The federal government does not distribute TANF funds directly to residents and citizens. It provides the funding to states that distribute the funds to agencies, offices and departments that run TANF programs, including the cash assistance program.

Since every state runs its own TANF programs, you must apply through your relevant state department. You may be able to apply for TANF online, over the phone or in person at your local TANF office. Keep in mind that, while the contents of the TANF application will be more or less the same in any state, there may be some key differences in terms of due dates, being able to apply online and required documentation.

How to Apply for TANF

Another thing to note is that since TANF is made up of so many different assistance programs, you should make sure you’re applying to receive the benefits and resources you’re aiming to get. For example, if you’re in need of emergency cash assistance through TANF, then you’ll need to fill out that application specifically. Other services and resources may only require a brief application that shows you’re unemployed or underemployed and are in need of other services, like job preparation, work training, employment services, childcare assistance and more.

When you apply for TANF cash assistance, you’ll likely need to provide information on your household income, family composition and size, your work history and income taxes. You may need to indicate whether you’re already receiving financial assistance from other programs or if you’ve already received TANF cash assistance and for how many months. That’s because your state’s TANF agency will consider a variety of income sources to determine your income level, whether you’re low income or very low income. Also, the agency will consider how long you’ve received TANF in the past as you can only receive it for up to 48 months over your lifetime.

When applying or registering for other TANF programs, such as employment services or childcare, you may be required to provide relevant information regarding your work history, income and children’s ages.