If I Receive Food Stamps Can I Receive TANF?

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Eligible families can receive TANF and food stamps, but rules apply.
Eligible families can receive TANF and food stamps, but rules apply. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. It's a program created by the government to provide very low-income families with cash to pay bills and buy necessary items, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The aim of TANF is to help families become self-sufficient, to encourage two-parent families, and to discourage pregnancy out of wedlock.

TANF and Food Stamps

As long as your financial and living situations qualify, you can receive both food stamps and TANF, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The food stamp program provides families with the ability to buy food, while TANF provides cash for other items. The major difference between the programs is the length of time you're allowed to receive them. TANF is temporary, while, depending on your circumstances, you can receive food stamps as long as you need them.

Assets and Income

Both programs have income requirements. For example, a family of one can earn no more than $1,174 a month in gross, or total, income a month to qualify for food stamps. TANF income guidelines are set by each state. Additionally, most families have to pass an asset test for food stamps (no more than $3,000 for families with disabled or elderly members, or no more than $2,000 for other families); but families already receiving TANF don't. Whether vehicles are treated as an asset is up to the state, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Time Allowed

A family with dependents can receive food stamp benefits as long as it's needed, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but since TANF is designed to help families become independent, benefits are usually limited to five years, or 60 months, during a lifetime. A person who received TANF as a child may be able to apply again as an adult. Also, some states waive the 60-month limit in extreme cases of hardship or abuse, though the assistance is reduced to 20 percent of the original allotment.

Work Requirements

Most people between the ages of 16 and 60 who have no disabilities or dependents must register for work to receive food stamp benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Benefits may be limited to three months, unless the state waives this limit due to a lack of work in the area. TANF usually requires recipients to begin work immediately, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Families with children may be able to delay work requirements for up to two years, depending on the state's rules. Not complying with your state's work requirements can make your benefits stop.

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