Know Your Rights! TANF

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What is TANF?
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TANF is cash for low-income families with kids.

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Can I get TANF?
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You can get TANF in D.C. if all these things are true:

  • You live in D.C.
  • You’re pregnant or live with children who are 18 or younger
  • You earn less than the monthly maximum (see below)
  • Your family has less than $2000 in cash or your bank account (less than $3000 if someone in your household is over 60)
  • You’re a U.S. citizen or fall into a different category (see below)
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How much can I get from TANF?
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Family Size You can get TANF if you earn less than . . . The most you can get in TANF is . . .
1 $574/month* $414/month
2 $675* 515
3 $818* 658
4 $964* 804
5 $1,088* 928
6 $1,251* 1091

*This amount goes up if you have childcare costs.

If you have a job, you can still get TANF, as long as your total income is less than the above amount!

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Can I apply if I don’t speak English well?
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Yes. The law says the government has to help you in your language. Tell the agency you want help in your language

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What do I need to do if I get TANF?
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If you get TANF, you have to do 2 things:

  1. You might have to do a work activity while getting TANF.
    Work activities include: work, education, training, job search. If you don’t do the work activity, your benefits might be cut.

    You might not have to do a work activity if you:
    1. Are disabled;
    2. Have a child under the age of one;
    3. Are a domestic violence survivor;
    4. Need to care for a family member at home; or
    5. Don’t have child care.
  2. If you’re a parent, you have to help the DC government get child support from the other parent.
    You don’t have to do this if going after child support could result in you or your child being hurt.
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I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I get TANF?
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Maybe. Some people who aren’t U.S. Citizens can get TANF. Go to Legal Aid’s flyer, “Getting Public Benefits if You’re Not a U.S. Citizen.”

Even you can’t get TANF, you can still apply for your children or other household members.

You only have to write the immigration status of people you’re applying for. The government can’t ask more questions.

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How do I apply for TANF?
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You can apply for all public benefits, including food stamps, TANF, Medicaid, and D.C. Healthcare Alliance on the same application.


Step 1: Get the documents you need. Don’t send the originals! Take a picture or make a copy.

  • Your photo ID
  • Your Social Security Card (if you have one)
  • Proof of income (such as pay stubs)
  • Your utility bill or other proof of address
  • Birth certificates of everyone in your household

Step 2: Apply in one of five ways:

In person: Go to one of these ESA service centers. Ask for a receipt when you apply.

  • Anacostia Service Center
    2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE
    (202) 645-4614
  • Congress Heights Service Center 4001
    South Capitol Street SW
    (202) 645-4546
  • H Street Service Center
    645 H Street NE
    (202) 698-4350
  • [Closed] Fort Davis Service Center
    3851 Alabama Avenue SE
    (202) 645-4500
  • [Closed] Taylor Street Service Center
    1207 Taylor Street NW
    (202) 576-8000

Smartphone: Download the District Direct app in the app store. Apply through your phone. Write down your confirmation number.

Online: Apply online through Write down your confirmation number. Save a copy of what you submit.

Mail: Get the application at Send in the application and copies of your documents to a Service Center (listed to the left). Keep proof that you mailed in your application. This option isn’t recommended.

Fax: Fax the completed application to DHS ESA at (202) 671-4400.

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After I apply, what happens next?
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Usually, the government has 45 days to process your application. If it takes longer, call an ESA service center listed above or contact Legal Aid.

You’ll get a notice in the mail or on the app telling you if your application was approved or denied.

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I didn’t get TANF or stopped getting TANF. What can I do?
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You have the right to appeal. You need to appeal within 90 days of the notice that your TANF was denied, cut off, or reduced. There are three steps to appeal.

Step 1: Get the appeal form online at

Step 2: Fill out the appeal form.

Step 3: File the form in one of these ways:

Email it to

Bring it in person to the Office of -
Administrative Hearings, 441 Fourth
Street NW, Suite 450N, Washington,
DC 20001. Keep a copy of the form.

Mail it the address on the left. Keep a copy of the form. Write down the date you sent it. This option isn’t recommended.

You might be able to keep your TANF while waiting for your hearing. Ask for a hearing before the date your benefits get cut off or reduced (find this date on the notice). Say it’s an emergency.