Getting Assistance for Non-Food Items in Texas (TANF)


The Texas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides financial and medical benefits for families in need. To be eligible for TANF benefits, applicants must be Texas residents, U.S. citizens, unemployed, and have a child under the age of 19.

Eligibility requirements for TANF are similar to the SNAP requirements, as both programs use the same EBT card to distribute cash benefits.

How long can I receive TANF benefits for?

TANF benefits last up to 60 months or longer for children that start off in TANF families and continue on the program as adults.

What are the requirements to receive TANF benefits?

The basic requirements for TANF eligibility are:

  • Being a legal immigrant or U.S. citizen
  • Having children who are citizens
  • Having a Social Security number
  • Earning less than 200 percent below the set poverty line
  • Having less than $2,000 in assets

TANF applicants who are unemployed and not disabled will have to register for work as part of the program, unless they are caring for child under the age of six, or caring for a disabled or elderly person living in the household. Pregnant TANF applicants can receive TANF benefits starting the month before the baby’s due date.

What are the TANF work requirements?

All TANF recipients will have to register with the “Choices” employment and training program (ET). This program starts when you begin the Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) program that provides information to families about how to look for work, how to use other services, how to use job referrals, how to manage TANF benefits and how to reduce household expenditures.

What purchases does TANF benefits cover?

TANF’s monthly cash payments are usable for anything purchasable by credit card, such as clothing, transportation, utility bills, laundry and household supplies. The maximum monthly amount of TANF benefits is $120 for households with one parent and one child. An additional $66 in benefits is added for each additional household member.

TANF provides funded services in addition to cash assistance. For example, childcare is provided for free for TANF recipients. TANF families can also receive free counseling, transportation and child abuse prevention services.

What if I care for a child but am not a parent?

If you are responsible for a child, you can either receive TANF benefits for yourself and the child, or the child alone. If you choose to only apply for the child, then your income will not be accounted in determining eligibility. Also, you will not be required to participate in a work search activities.

What If I am not a U.S. Citizen but my child is a citizen or legal resident?

You can still receive TANF benefits for your child. You will not be required to indicate what kind of immigration papers you have.

Will I lose TANF benefits if I start working?

Your TANF payments are not necessarily canceled when you start working since eligibility depends on your income. You may still receive TANF benefits if your wages do not cover your expenses. For example, a family of three who has a household member that started earning $600 per week when their TANF payment was $428 per month, might see their TANF benefits reduced to $267. To keep TANF benefits after you find a job, you must report the change of income to your TANF job counselor, and send in the first pay stub.

Additional Requirements

If you are a parent under the age of 19, you are required to attend school to receive TANF benefits. You will also have to submit a letter from your school, attendance reports, a letter from someone you know who can testify on your behalf and a copy of your school registration. If there is a justifiable reason you cannot attend school, make sure to explain this to your TANF case worker. You will not have to attend school or work if your child is under 12 weeks old, or if your child is younger than 6 years old and you cannot find childcare.

Can I appeal my case if my TANF benefits get denied?

If you think the HHSC denied your application in error, you have the right to appeal its decision. To begin the appeal process, notify your case worker to request a hearing.

Do I need an attorney for my appeal hearing?

Your TANF denial appeal hearing is conducted by an impartial judge that will reevaluate the evidence of your case. The hearing provides both sides equal opportunity to present evidence without legal representation.

How do I report work verification?

To provide proof of work activities, you will have to attend the Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) where you can apply for employment services. If you are offered suitable employment, you are expected to accept the offer. If you are
offered job and have children, you may be eligible to receive free or low cost child care.