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Am I eligible for TANF?

Authored By: Partnership for Legal Access


Eligibility For TANF:

vLow income households with children may qualify for TANF if the household has children who:

ØLack the financial support of one or both parents because of a parent's absence, disability, unemployment, or underemployment;

ØAre living in Texas with parent or a relative;

ØAre less than 18 years old (children may be 18 if attending school and expected to graduate before age 19); and

ØAre U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) in the U.S. on or before August 22, 1996. LPRs who entered the U.S. after August 22, 1996, are barred for 5-years (there are special exceptions for refugees and veterans)

vEligible TANF households may also receive Food Stamps and Medicaid benefits.

vHouseholds with immigrants who are not Legal Permanent Residents, or with immigrants who want to sponsor another immigrant to enter the U.S., should seek legal assistance before applying for TANF due to possible "public charge" issues. TANF is a cash benefit that will be considered in making a "public charge" determination.

vGrandparent TANF eligibility:

ØGrandparents caring for one or more grandchildren may be eligible to receive a one-time supplemental payment of $1000

ØGrandparents must:

§Be 45 years of age or older,

§Be low income, and

§Have resources less than $1,000.

ØGrandparents can only receive this payment once, even though other grandchildren move into their home at a later time.

ØGrandparents cannot receive TANF if the grandchild for whom they are caring has already received the payment.

vFactors that Determine Eligibility for TANF:

ØThe "TANF certified group" or household includes parents or "caretakers" who live in the home, and children under age 18 (children may be 18 if attending school and expected to graduate before age 19);

ØTotal household income which includes:

§Earnings of household members including those who are not eligible for benefits,

§Child support,

§Income of sponsors of certain immigrants, and

§Receipt of other benefits such as Social Security.

ØReal property other than homestead - owning the home you live in will never count against you.

ØResources such as automobiles, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, etc.

vTANF time limits:

ØThe U.S. (federal) government has a 5-year lifetime limit.

§A person cannot receive TANF for more than 60 months over a lifetime

§Signing the Personal Responsibility Agreement starts the time clock

§Federal time limits affect the entire household, both parents and children.

ØTexasplaces different time limits on TANF

§Texas Time Limits depend upon the education and job experience of the parent/caretaker:

·1 Year Texas Time Limit - the parent/caretaker has a high school education or higher, or at least 18 months of work experience

·2 Year Texas Time Limit - the parent/caretaker has at least 3 years of high school education, or 6 to18 months of work experience

·3 Year Texas Time Limit - the parent/caretaker has less than 3 years of high school, or less than 6 months of work experience

§Texastime limits affect only parent's/caretaker's portion of assistance, not the children's portion of assistance.

§Once Texas time limit is reached, you are not eligible for TANF again for 5 years.

ØYou may eligible for an exception to TANF time limits due to local economic conditions and for severe personal hardship.

vThe Personal Responsibility Agreement:

ØEveryone who applies for TANF must sign a Personal Responsibility Agreement to receive benefits.

ØBy signing the Personal Responsibility Agreement, the parent/caretaker agrees to:

§Keep their children in school;

§Have their children immunized and complete required health screenings;

§Cooperate with child-support collection efforts - the parent/caretaker may claim good cause for not cooperating with the child support program if:

·cooperation could result in physical or emotional harm to the child or responsible relative,

·the child was conceived as a result of rape or incest, or

·the child may be placed for adoption.

§Participate in job training/education programs (CHOICES);

§Not voluntarily quit a job;

§Not abuse alcohol or drugs; and

§Attend parenting classes if referred by TxHHSC.

vFamily Violence Option (FVO)

ØIn order to receive cash benefits and Medicaid through TANF the parent/caretaker is required to:

§Disclose identity of father(s) of children and cooperate with attempts to collect child support

§Participate in work related activities (CHOICES program)

§Comply with Time Limits (receive cash assistance for a limited amount of time)

ØThrough the FVO, these program requirements may be waived to protect the confidentiality of a victim of family violence if the TANF requirement would endanger the victim and/or her children

ØUnder the FVO, the TANF applicant should inform the TxHHSC that she is the victim of domestic violence, and

§cooperation with the child support enforcement process (Attorney General suit to establish or enforce child support) would endanger the applicant and her children by revealing where she is living and require continuing contact with the abuser through court ordered visitation,

§work or searching for work would place her and her children in danger (abuser could interfere with her going/coming from work, harass her at work, and/or find out where she is) The applicant should ask for a "Good Cause Waiver" to remove work requirements. The waiver is reviewed monthly to determine if safety concerns exist and may be extended for up to 12 months.

§request that her TANF time clock stop for the period of time she receives a waiver from the TANF work requirements.

vReporting Requirements:

ØYou must let TxHHSC know about any changes in your living situation.

ØYou are responsible for reporting - within 10 days - toTxHHSCany changes in your situation, including:



§Your job,

§Address, and/or

§Who lives in your household.

ØYou should always keep a copy of any documents you give to TxHHSC

ØYou should always get TxHHSC to date stamp a copy of any document delivered to office

ØYou should avoid mailing in documents since it is better to have a receipt showing you delivered the documents

ØIf at all possible, send mail to TxHHSC by certified mail with return receipt requested


ØYou will have the responsibility to return to theTxHHSCoffice for "re-certification," or to renew your application

ØTxHHSCwill mail you a notice of a re-certification appointment (about every 6 months).