If a family needs help covering their expenses during a period of financial hardship, will they qualify for temporary cash assistance? If so, how much assistance can they receive each month, and for how long can they receive it? The answers to these questions depend not only on the family’s circumstances but also on where they live.
The primary program that provides cash aid to families in need is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. TANF is a block grant, meaning the federal government provides each state with a set amount of money that the state combines with its own funding to meet the program’s goals. Each state sets its own policies for exactly who can get help, how much they can receive, and for how long. These policies can vary greatly across states.
This brief provides a graphical overview of some of the TANF policy differences across states in July 2018. It includes information about initial eligibility, benefit amounts, work and activity requirements, and ongoing eligibility and time limits. More information about these and other policies can be found at https://wrd.urban.org.