Brief Graphical Overview of State TANF Policies as of July 2020
Sarah Knowles, Ilham Dehry, Katie Shantz, Sarah Minton
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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? The answers to these questions depend not only on the family’s circumstances but also on where they live.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is the primary program that provides cash aid to families in need. TANF is a block grant: 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 who receives help, how much they receive, and for how long. These policies vary greatly across states.

This brief provides a graphical overview of some of the TANF policy differences across states in July 2020. It includes information about initial eligibility, benefit amounts, work and activity requirements, and ongoing eligibility and time limits. It is a companion to the 2020 Welfare Rules Databook, which provides more details on state-by-state TANF policy variations. Both this brief and the databook are derived from information in the full Welfare Rules Database, publicly available at

Research Areas Social safety net
Tags Economic well-being Families with low incomes Poverty State programs, budgets Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center