Pennsylvania Welfare Requirements

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, also known as the Welfare Reform Act, replaced traditional welfare with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. Qualified households with children receive monthly cash benefits designed to supplement household incomes and help make ends meet. If you're approved for TANF in Pennsylvania, you'll automatically receive medical assistance through the state's Medicaid program.

TANF Overview

TANF is only available to households with dependent children or pregnant women. The benefit amount varies based on your county, your income and the number of people living in the home. At the time of publication, the maximum benefit amount for a family of three is around $421 per month. If approved for TANF, your benefits are deposited using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) onto a Pennsylvania Access Card. You can use your cash benefits wherever EBT is accepted or withdraw cash at an ATM.

Tip

When you apply for TANF online using the COMPASS portal or in person at your local Department of Human Services office, you can also ask the caseworker to determine your eligibility for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP benefits are deposited onto the same access card.

TANF Eligibility

You must meet general eligibility requirements to qualify for TANF. You must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Pennsylvania and provide Social Security numbers for all members of your household. If your child's parent isn't living in your home, you'll need to help child support enforcement establish a court order for child support by providing necessary information about the absent parent. In some cases, the requirement may be waived if there's a good reason. For example, if cooperating places you or your child in danger, you may seek a waiver. If you have any questions about the eligibility requirements, contact a county assistance office for more information.

Income and Asset Limits

Under federal guidelines, families must be deemed financially needy to receive TANF. If you're working when you apply, the household income can't exceed $8,124 a year for a household of three at the time of publication. Your resources, including cash and money in the bank, can't exceed $1,000. Your vehicle and home are excluded from this equation.

Work Requirements

Although you aren't required to be employed when you apply for TANF, you'll need to search for a job <ahref="http: www.dhs.state.pa.us="" foradults="" cashassistance="" frequentlyaskedquestions="" index.htm"=""> </ahref="http:>or participate in a job training program. For single parents with children under age 6, the work requirement is 20 hours per week. If you're a single parent with a child over age 6, the work requirement is 30 hours. For a two-parent household, the combined requirement is 35 hours. Certain adults are exempt from working, including those with disabilities. You'll need to complete and sign an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility document, which outlines your employment goals and how you'll achieve them. The state's Child Care Works program helps pay for necessary child care while you're fulfilling the work requirement.

TANF Time Limits

The maximum length of time you can receive TANF in Pennsylvania is 60 months, and you're allowed to stop the clock for up to 12 months. Any other type of cash assistance you receive during this time won't count against the five-year TANF benefits. You may qualify for a TANF "timeout" if:

  • You're a victim of domestic violence
  • You're caring for a child under 1 year of age
  • You're caring for a child other than your own

In come cases, you can receive extended TANF benefits beyond the five-year limit. You'll need to contact your caseworker to determine your eligible for an extension. You may qualify if:

  • You're working or in a training program and unable to financially support yourself
  • You're unable to find work
  • You're unable to work due to a physical or mental illness
  • You're experiencing a family crisis
  • You or a household member is a victim of domestic violence
  • You're caring for a disabled individual
  • You're caring for a child under 1 year of age
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