According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 17 percent of the population of Nevada lived below the poverty level during 2008-2009. Low- and no-income families with dependent children in Nevada may be eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). TANF replaced what was commonly called welfare in 1996 with the passing of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. If they meet certain requirements, Nevada families can receive monthly cash benefits.
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TANF benefits are offered only to families with dependent children at home. The family must be current residents of Nevada and citizens of the United States, or legal immigrants who have lived in the country for at least five years. Parents who do not qualify can apply for benefits on behalf of their children. Certain groups of immigrants may be allowed to receive TANF before living in the country for five years under federal law, but these cases are relatively rare. They include refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking and Cuban or Haitian entrants.
Income and Asset Limits
Families must meet income and asset limits. The maximum monthly income is based on the size of the family and the current federal poverty level guidelines. Gross income cannot exceed 130 percent of the poverty level. Countable assets held by the family cannot be worth more than $2,000, as of 2011. Countable assets include all bank accounts, cash, real property and stocks. Certain assets, such as the home and household goods, are exempt.
Adults receiving TANF benefits must undergo a skills assessment to help determine job skills and work experience. The assessment is also used to decide whether members of the family will need non-cash benefits such as job training, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, child care or domestic violence intercession. A personal responsibility plan is developed to help the family become self-sufficient. Adults that do not have infants must meet TANF work requirements. Participants must be employed, search for work, volunteer in the community or attend skills training or other educational activities in order to keep TANF benefits. Failure to comply with the work requirements will result in the termination of their TANF allotment.
Federal law states that no one can receive TANF benefits for more than five years during their lifetime. Nevada law further stipulates that households can only receive 24 months of cash assistance, after which they must remain off the program for 12 consecutive months before being eligible to apply again. The Division of Welfare may extend the 24-month period by six months if it decides that the household could achieve self-sufficiency if given the extra time.