TANF Program Benefits in Pennsylvania


TANF benefits in Pennsylvania are targeted at helping poor children and their families. The TANF benefits program enables families to receive child support and welfare payments necessary to maintain healthy lives. Therefore, the goals of the program are threefold. First, the program seeks to provide cash assistance to needy families to allow children to remain in their homes with two parents, if possible, by promoting marriage. Next, TANF benefits offer unemployment resources and require beneficiaries to utilize them during benefit periods to encourage independence. Finally, TANF aims to prevent or reduce the prevalence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The PA TANF benefits program was created to enact these goals and help children and families with the aspects of their lives for which they require support. To learn more about the TANF program and how its benefits may help you and your family become more independent and financially stable, consult the following sections.

What is given to TANF beneficiaries in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania TANF beneficiaries receive support in the form of cash payments. The financial assistance provided by the TANF benefits program can be used to purchase items meant for the care of children. For instance, TANF benefits can pay for food, clothing, housing expenses and school fees. However, to receive monthly TANF benefit checks, separated or divorced families with children younger than 18 years of age are required to provide the name of the biological parent not currently caring for the children (if applicable). This allows local authorities to locate the other parent and request child support payments. Unless contacting the noncustodial parent (NCP) poses serious problems or concerns or the NCP has passed, child support must be sought prior to the delivery of TANF payments. Therefore, PA TANF benefits payments may be acquired in conjunction with child support.

Because TANF programs have similar eligibility requirements to SNAP and Medicaid programs, many families will be enrolled in multiple programs to receive comprehensive care and services. However, PA Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits recipients regardless of the inclusion of other programs. The program addresses families’ individual needs and assigns them to in-network counselors or physicians that can help struggling families become self-sufficient and properly and effectively care for their children.

All financial TANF benefits in Pennsylvania are stored on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards that function like debit cards. EBT cards are issued at the onset of TANF assistance payments and can only be redeemed at participating grocery stores or retailers and restrict permissible items available for purchase. Beneficiaries will receive information on approved items, participating stores and any other pertinent payment information necessary for using the card once they are accepted into the program. For more specific information about the TANF program, you can download our comprehensive guide today.

How long can you receive TANF benefits in Pennsylvania?

“How long do TANF benefits last in PA?” is a common and important question that residents often ask. How long TANF benefits last, however, depends on a few factors. For instance, whether beneficiaries are families or child-only cases greatly affects benefits. While residents may only receive Pennsylvania TANF assistance benefits for a maximum of 60 months, or five years, within their lifetime, children receiving child-only benefits may be eligible to receive multiple five-year benefit periods. Consequently, some adults who met eligibility guidelines for TANF benefits as children may receive another 60 months of benefits as long as there is a substantial break between the issuance of benefits (i.e., from childhood to adulthood).

TANF benefits have more than time-limits, though. Beneficiaries are constantly at risk of losing temporary assistance benefits if they fail to follow TANF guidelines. For example, TANF benefits may be temporarily or permanently terminated if TANF beneficiaries in Pennsylvania do not retain current employment or continue to participate in work-related activities deemed appropriate by TANF guidelines. Because beneficiaries sign an agreement of mutual responsibility (AMR) and must agree to all other PA TANF benefits program conditions prior to receiving benefits, violating any conditions may result in serious consequences and even the expulsion from all future welfare benefits.

How is the TANF Benefit amount determined in Pennsylvania?

TANF benefits are calculated based on essential household information that applicants provide. The Pennsylvania TANF program assesses applicants’ reported incomes, household sizes and expenses to determine their financial needs. Additionally, the program takes participation in other welfare programs into consideration when deciding benefit amounts. TANF benefits in PA are influenced by some factors, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Total household income
  • Rent or mortgage costs
  • Dependent care costs
  • Child support expenses (if applicable)

TANF benefits are also dependent on the number of residents receiving them. If more family members residing in the same household require PA TANF benefits, then more benefits will be distributed to the family, whereas child-only cases will receive fewer benefits because fewer residents are utilizing them. To learn more specific information about how TANF amounts are calculated, you can download our comprehensive guide today.

What Is the Division of Family and Children Services in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania provides services for families and children who are most in need. The division provides resources for free and reduced lunch, food stamps and temporary cash assistance for needy families. To find out if you are eligible for these services, download our comprehensive guide to review the eligibility requirements for each program.

How Can I Apply for Assistance Through the Division of Family and Children Services?

In order to be considered for the benefit programs offered by the Division of Family and Children Services, you must submit an application via an approved method. Additionally, many of the services provided by the division have eligibility requirements that you must meet to obtain benefits. Learn all about the application processes for these programs by downloading our guide.