Arizona Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Application Information

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF is one of the federal-state assistance programs in the United States - the federal government establishes the fundamental rules and regulations to run the program, but each state is in charge of developing its own programs, eligibility requirements, and benefits.

In Arizona, there are many programs under TANF and one of them is the Cash Assistance (CA) program. The CA program gives cash benefits and services temporarily to poor children and families. The aim of this program is to support families in meeting their basic needs such as food, clothing, as well as rent, and to assist them in becoming self-sufficient.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance (CA) program in Arizona is administered by the Department of Economic Security or DES. Eligible applicants receive their cash benefits through a QUEST Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT card that works like any other ATM or debit card or through direct deposit to a bank account.

All adults who receive benefits from this program must sign a Personal Responsibility Agreement. This indicates that they are willing to take on work activities leading to employment and if applicable, this will specify that they are prepared to meet the terms of child support payments.

There is a limit in how long individuals can receive CA benefits, depending on the state. There is the Federal Lifetime Benefit Limit applicable to all states that confines the main applicant and his/her spouse to receive assistance for 60 months, unless exempted. This federal limit is not applicable to household members who are below 18 years old. And there's the State Benefit Limit in Arizona that restricts the main applicant and his/her spouse to get benefits for themselves or for a dependent child for two years or 24 months, unless exempted. This 24-month limit can be spent consecutively or it may be distributed over a lifetime.

If you are qualified to receive Cash Assistance, the amount of benefits you get per month may vary, depending on the following factors:

  • Size of household
  • Income
  • Type of income (earned, unearned, or both)
  • Household members
  • Rent

The Eligibility Interviewer will be the one who will decide on how much Cash Assistance you will receive since the benefit calculation of each applicant is different.

Once your application has been approved, you must take part in the Jobs Program, unless you are exempted. This is to help you get back on track and to avoid depending too much on public aid.

To continue getting CA benefits, you must undergo eligibility reviews known as renewals. They are normally set every six months, but the schedule may vary.

If there are any changes in your personal information or other household details, you have to report them immediately within ten days of being aware of them. You may report the changes in three ways:

  1. Report online by going to the MyFamilyBenefits Page.
  2. 2. Call your local Department of Economic Security office or call 602-542-9935 (for area codes 480, 623, or 602) or 1-800-352-8401 (for all the other area codes)
  3. Fill out the FAA Change Report form FA-412 and then mail, fax, or bring it personally to the nearest DES office. You may get the form by downloading it here.

To see a complete list of all the changes you need to report, you may view the chart here.

The QUEST Electronic Benefits (EBT) card mailed to you after your eligibility interview works like any other debit or ATM card. It is issued by JPMorgan Chase and you can use it at the majority of stores with Point of Sale (POS) devices or you can withdraw cash from an ATM that has the QUEST symbol. Your benefits will be accessible on the first day of the month at 5 a.m. If you aren't eligible, you may still receive the card.

You may check the balance of your EBT card by calling JPMorgan Chase Customer Service hotline at 1-888-997-9333. You may also login to your account at JPMorgan Chase to review all your transactions, check your account balance, and contact customer support.

If you want to authorize another individual to use your EBT card you may fill up and submit the Designation of EBT Alternate Card Holder Form. You can download the form here.

It is your responsibility to keep your EBT Card and your Personal Identification Number (PIN) safe. You are also in charge of properly using your benefits. If your account is used by unauthorized people using your card or your representative's card, the cash will not be returned. Replacement will only be considered after you have reported that your account has been stolen or lost. You may report it by contacting the DES Office or calling the JPMorgan Customer Service Hotline at 1-888-997-9333.

If there's an action or decision by the DES Family Assistance Administration (FAA) that you do not agree with (for instance, your application was denied or you benefits have stopped), you may file an appeal. Your case will be reviewed by a judge in a Fair Hearing.

Eligibility Requirements

These are the individuals who may be qualified to receive Cash Assistance benefits:

  • Parents who are taking care of dependent children below 19 years old.
  • Identified relatives (such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and the like) with dependent children 18 years old and below who are in their safekeeping (called Kinship Care)
  • Parents of a child who gets SSI or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
  • Individuals who are enrolled in the Kinship Foster Care Program.

The following are the requirements to become eligible for the CA program:

  • Must be living in the state of Arizona.
  • Has to be a citizen of the United States or a qualified non-citizen.
  • Has to fill up and sign the Personal Responsibility Agreement that can be found here
  • Must meet the income limit.

If you're not sure if you will qualify, you should still apply for the CA program as there is no exact amount of income limit.

Income is referred to as the money you receive from various sources including work and benefits. The income limit that will help determine your eligibility depends on the exact situation of your household.

There are two income limits in Arizona, depending on the size of your household:

  1. Needs Standard - this is the most you can make and still be qualified to receive child care services and jobs assistance.
  2. CA Payment Standard - this is the limit that you can make and be eligible for the Cash Assistance program, jobs assistance, and child care services.

Here are two tables that show these income limits with the given family size:

  1. Cash Assistance A1 Needs Standards - for households that pay rent/mortgage
  2. Cash Assistance A2 Needs Standards - for households that do not pay rent/mortgage

Assets are also taken into consideration when applying for Cash Assistance. Assets are the things that you possess such as savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and checking accounts. To become eligible, you must have assets that are worth under $2,000. The state excludes the following things listed when counting your assets because you can't use these to pay for your basic needs:

  • Your home where you and your family live
  • Personal goods such as clothing, furniture, appliances, tools, and jewelry
  • Your vehicle

Signing the Personal Responsibility Agreement or PRA is one of the eligibility requirements for the CA program. When you sign it, it indicates that you agree that the members of your family will:

  • Make preparations for a job and accept it.
  • Ensure that all children in the household between ages 6 and 15 attend school.
  • Oblige with all the rules and regulations of the CA program, the Child Care Administration, and the Jobs Administration.
  • Keep the immunization of the children up-to-date; and
  • Coincide with the Division of Child Support Enforcement, when appropriate./li>

If you do not sign this agreement, Cash Assistance benefits will be denied. If you have already been approved and you fail to meet the conditions of the PRA, it will result to a penalty:

  • First offense - reduction of 25% on the CA benefits of the household
  • Second offense - reduction of 50% on the CA benefits of the household
  • Third and all succeeding times after reapplying - benefits will be stopped

If you have a good reason for not complying with the requirements indicated in the PRA, you must inform your eligibility interviewer immediately.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Application Instructions

If you want to apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance (CA) program, you need to take three steps:

1. Gather the necessary information you need to apply.

There are things you need to bring during the interview process that may help speed up the process, whether it is your first time applying or you're reapplying for the program. Bring all the things that apply to you:

  • Identification (I.D.) of applicant.
  • Proof of identity and citizenship for each one in your household applying for the program.
  • Alien Registration Cards (if there are household members that are not U.S. citizens).
  • Social Security numbers (if none, proof that it has already been applied for)
  • Birth certificates for everyone in your household.
  • Name and contact information of your neighbor or landlord.
  • Verification of address and all the names in your household (it must be made by a non-relative who you do not live with, dated and signed by the person who verified, including his/her contact details)
  • Proof of all income your household received in the past few months.
  • Complete statement of account from the bank or credit union.
  • Verification that your employment has ended, as well as the last date you were paid.
  • Proof of retirement plans, securities, life insurance, and savings bonds.
  • Proof of pregnancy, as well as the expected time of delivery.
  • Rent/mortgage and utility bills for the past few months.
  • List of child care expenses for the recent months.
  • Proof of medical costs for individuals who are 60 years old and above.
  • Verification of any medical insurance coverage aside from AHCCCS.

Get an application form and fill out all the necessary information.

You can get the application form in three ways:

  • You may submit your application online by clicking here. After this, there are still additional details that you need to fax to complete your application. You may download the fax cover sheets on the Providing Documents tab of the website.
  • Download the www.azdes.gov/AHCCCSCombinedApplication. You may submit it through fax or submit it personally to your local FAA office. This is the same application used when renewing CA benefits.
  • You may go to the nearest FAA office and ask for an application form; you may also call and request it to be mailed to your address.

3. Submit application and all the necessary documents.

After you have gathered all the needed documents and filled up the application form, you should submit it by fax, by mail, or in person to the FAA office near you. From here, the process starts.

The FAA will contact you for an Eligibility Interview, also known as the fact-finding interview. If there are more information needed, you'll be contacted by email or by phone. You will be informed of the eligibility decision by mail.