There are moments in life when you may feel vulnerable or hopeless. It could be losing a job that have been bringing in stable income for your family, experiencing the loss of a life partner that leaves you having to shoulder all parenting responsibilities alone, or facing overwhelming emotional distress as a result of mounting financial pressures
Seeking support is critical in times like these. In our society, there are plenty of things you can do, such as reaching out to family members, friends, support groups who are willing to offer a listening ear or helping hand, seeking career counseling services that can assist you in finding new jobs, or getting advice from mental health professionals who are valuable resources for managing emotional breakdowns.
On top of all these, there are many government assistance programs or charity organizations that can provide practical support to alleviate your financial burdens and allow you to find strength and focus on rebuilding a hopeful future. For people living in Oklahoma, one source of support is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
In this blog, you will find a comprehensive introduction to the program, including its eligibility criteria, application process and some of additional requirements for certain groups of applicants. By leveraging these resources, you will stand on your feet again more quickly!
What is TANF?
Funded by the Federal Government, TANF provides temporary support for basic needs, employment training and services, as well as childcare assistance for families in need of such support because of a parent's death, incapacity, absence or unemployment. The program has three main features:
One goal of the TANF program is to be a source of temporary financial assistance to help families work towards self-sufficiency. The assistance for qualified families are normally deposited into Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which is the same card used for assistance programs such as Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or designated accounts at other financial institutions.
Time limited basis
Under normal circumstances, qualified families may not receive TANF assistance for longer than 60 months unless they have special approved from the authority. The exception is if minor children are not the head of household, or if a parent or caretaker relative is not included in TANF benefit or when the benefit is non-cash assistance.
TANF Work Plan
The benefit associates with a compulsory personalized work plan which aims to help TANF recipients move from welfare to work.
TANF benefits include cash payment, Soonercare, participation in job readiness activities and flex funds. There are more support services available in association with TANF Work Plan, such as:
- Participant allowances
- Work activity payments
- Achievement bonuses for educational and certain work credentials
Who is eligible for this program?
To be eligible for TANF cash assistance, an applicant must be living in Oklahoma legally and are responsible for a minor child in the family. There are also specific income standards requirement. The applicant must also agree to cooperate with Child Support Services and engage in approved work activities. Other eligibility requirements include:
- Age: The child must be younger than 18 years old or younger than 19 years old and enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary school.
- Citizenship: applicant must be a U.S. citizen, or a legal alien.
- Social Security Number Compliance: applicant must provide a Social Security Number or proof of application for a Number.
- Income and resources: Income includes payment, proceeds from business or property, retirement, and other benefits. Qualified families should have resources totaling less than $2,250, excluding values of the primary residence and equity in the primary vehicle, which is limited to $5,000.
- School Attendance: School attendance is required for children from kindergarten age through 18 unless they are home educated according to the Oklahoma constitution and statutes.
- Drug Screen: Adult parents, or needy caretakers who apply for TANF must be screened for illegal use of a controlled substance or substances. Fugitive felons, probation, parole violators and drug users will be denied to receive TANF benefits.
- Relationship: A child must be living with a specific relative in a home maintained by him/her.
TANF requires work-eligible parents or caretakers receiving cash assistance to engage in work or approved work activities from the time of application.
The assessment of work-eligibility will be conducted once the applicant initiate the application process. According to the program requirements, a work-eligible person must take part in work activities an average of 30 hours per week unless being exempted. For two-parent families, the non-incapacitated adult must participate in work activities an average of 30 hours per week in cases of incapacity, unless otherwise approved.
Examples of acceptable work activities include:
- Employment: Full/Part time or subsidized employment opportunities
- Training: Work experience program or community partnerships
- Education: High school or equivalency, long-term/short-term training and literacy classes
- Job Readiness/Job Search
TANF application process
The application process of TANF is quite straightforward. The applicant can choose to apply online at www.OKDHSLIVE.org or submit a hard-copy application form to local Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Center.
After submitting the application, someone at the OKDHS will reach out and schedule a face-to-face interview w. They will then review and determine the applicant's eligibility within 30 days after the initial interview.
Additional benefits that you will qualify for ...
When you become a TANF recipient, it may automatically qualify you for other government assistance programs, including the above-mentioned SNAP (or food stamps), or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline Program.
SNAP provides additional support on purchasing nutritious food, including vegetables, meat, and dairy products from authorized groceries or Farmers' Markets across Oklahoma. The program also loads benefits directly into your EBT card.
The ACP and Lifeline, on the other hand, aims to provide affordable and high-qualify communications services for low income families and individuals.
Qualified participants of the ACP can receive a monthly discount up to $30 on broadband service (up to $75 if you live on qualifying tribal lands). The benefit will be paid directly to participating service provider. The Lifeline provides a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on phone services (up to $34.25 for those live on qualifying tribal lands).
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If you qualify for the ACP or Lifeline and apply directly with service providers like EASY Wireless, you will receive more benefits! For example, EASY Wireless offers an Unlimited Plan for eligible residents in Oklahoma, which include:
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