Cash Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is dedicated to helping low-income families become independent while they receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. TANF is also referred to as cash assistance.

Who does TANF help?

The TANF program provides money to help: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Dependent children and their parents who live with them
  • Dependent children and other relatives who live with them and care for them

2021 Pennsylvania TANF State Plan

Each state must submit a TANF state plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Pennysylvania's updated State Plan will be submitted to DHHS in December 2021.  

View the 2021 Pennsylvania TANF State Plan, key changes, and how to participate in public comment

How to apply

If you need help completing the application form or need more information about benefits, trained workers at your county assistance office can help you.

Are You Eligible?

To be eligible for cash assistance/TANF, you must meet certain requirements. Workers at the county assistance office can provide more information on all of these requirements: 

  • You must be a United States citizen and a resident of Pennsylvania. (Certain non-citizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence may be eligible.)
  • You and your family members must provide Social Security Numbers or apply for them.
  • You are required to look for a job or participate in an employment and training program. (Some people may be excused from the work requirements, for example, a person with a disability.)
  • You are required to help the caseworker complete an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR), which is a plan for what you will do so you no longer need cash assistance. The plan may include looking for work, attending a training program, or applying for Social Security benefits. You must sign the AMR and follow through with the plan.
  • If you want cash assistance for a dependent child, you must cooperate with paternity and child support requirements, unless you have a good cause for not cooperating. Your child must be under age 18 or age 18 and a full-time student. Your child must live with you and you must care for the child. You must need support and care for the child as a result of at least one of these things:
    • Death of the child's parent;
    • Incapacity of the child's parent (such as a long illness);
    • Continued absence of a parent from your home; or
    • One or both parents with no income or low income from employment.
    • Your resources (things with cash value such as bank accounts, bonds or property that is not your primary/main residence) must have a value of $1,000 or less.
    • You must report all income from employment or from other sources including, but not limited to, child support, unemployment compensation, interest, Social Security benefits, or lottery winnings.

How long can I receive cash assistance?

You can receive cash assistance for 60 months (five years) total over the course of your lifetime.