How to Qualify for Welfare in Tennessee

Tennessee's welfare program, Families First, complies with the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Everyone is eligible to apply, whether as a family or as an individual, and applications are available in both English and Spanish. The Families First program is designed to emphasize work and work training, and caseworkers collaborate with applicants to create individual career plans that help to establish financial independence for the applicant.


Step 1

Fill out the welfare application forms, which can be done in person at your local Department of Human Services office, or online, by mail or by fax. The application is reviewed and an appointment for an interview is scheduled.

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Step 2

Appear at the scheduled interview to discuss your eligibility with a caseworker. The purpose of the interview is to determine what benefits and programs are most helpful to you and what information must be provided.


Step 3

Work with the caseworker to develop a Personal Responsibility Plan, which includes immunizations and health checkups for children; school attendance for children; and participation in a work/training program, unless you're exempt due to age, health or other factors.

Step 4

Comply with work/training requirements by participating in training programs or working a given amount per week. The amount required depends on your or your family's needs. Two-parent households usually have a higher rate of required hours per week, meant to be divided between the two parents. Generally, each individual is required to work or train at least 30 hours per week.



Step 5

Comply with the Personal Responsibility Plan that was created with your caseworker. Generally, this means making sure that minors attend school, as well as providing for medical checkups and needed immunizations and taking steps to establish paternity if needed.


Tennessee's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits are limited to 60 months within a participant's lifetime. They may require that an individual hasn't received assistance from another state within the past two years.

Things You'll Need

  • Proof of identity

  • Proof of citizenship and alien status

  • Documentation of income

  • Proof of address

  • Child support information

  • School attendance records of minors


Failing to comply with the work/training requirements or the Personal Responsibility Plan can disqualify you from receiving assistance.

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