Author: Attorney Desk Reference Manual
Last updated: August 2013
Statutes and Regulations
The Department of Human Services
Parent/Relative Grants with Children
Conditions of Eligibility
Single Filing Unit
Non-Financial Eligibility Criteria
The Responsibility and Services Plan
Work and Training Requirements for TANF Adults
Required Hours and Activities
Care of Child Under Age One (1)
Child Who is Not a Parent
Adult Age 60 or Older
Barriers to Work and Training
Home and Community-based Care Waiver Child
Care of Others
Domestic Violence Exclusion
Lifetime Limits for the Receipt of TANF
Exceptions to the 60-month Limit
Relation of TANF to Other Programs
Financial Eligibility Criteria
New Baby: Family Cap Rule
Budgeting of Income
Participation Requirements Redetermination
Child Support Enforcement
School Attendance Initiative
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is designed to temporarily provide help while a family moves to self-sufficiency. It replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. It is administered by Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and funded jointly by the state and federal governments. The goal that IDHS has set for TANF is to address the strengths and needs of the entire family for moving to sustained self-sufficiency. It is welfare, so there are financial requirements to prove "need." There are also non-financial eligibility requirements and provisions that require recipients to undertake certain activities in return for the benefits.
The administering agency, DHS, provides an array of state human services in one department. The DHS is the result of the merging of The Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, the community services of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the child care and youth services of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the field operations, income assistance, employment and training, food stamps, child care, and social services block grant administration in the Department of Public Aid.
The Illinois TANF Program provides cash benefits to certain eligible families.
The first group who can receive TANF, under child only assistance, include children who are living with a parent or relative but none of these adults are eligible or, with a nonparent relative, opts not to be included in the assistance unit. These families are not subject to time limits and work requirements but are subject to child support enforcement rules. Children who are living with non-relative caretakers are not eligible for TANF, but may be eligible for cash assistance under the Transitional or General Assistance Program.
Temporary assistance for families serves families with at least one eligible adult who participates in or is exempt from work activities.
Families are eligible to receive TANF but must contain at least one eligible child under the age of 18, or under the age of 19 if attending secondary school full-time, and may contain no more than two adult caretakers who are related to the children.
All siblings residing in the home, including half siblings of children included in the assistance unit, must be included in the assistance unit. (PM 04-01-00)
Unmarried parents under the age of 18 and their children living with them are assisted only if residing with their parent, legal guardian or other adult relative, or in an adult supervised arrangement. Wards of the Department of Children and Family Services participating in the DCFS Independent Living Program under the supervision of a case manager are living in an adult supervised arrangement and may qualify for TANF if they have a child. Some exceptions that apply to this requirement include single parents where the spouse is dead or unable to be found, and where the minor or a child’s physical or emotional health or safety is in danger. (PM 14-06-00 and 14-06-02)
The non-financial eligibility criteria can be found at PM 03-01.
Everyone in the family must have or apply for a social security number.
The family must reside in Illinois. A permanent residence is not required. Residence is where one functions – not an apartment or a house – so homeless families are eligible. (PM 03-02-00)
TANF in Illinois is available to citizens of the United States as well as to people legally admitted for permanent residence before August 22, 1996; people legally admitted for permanent residence on or after August 22, 1996, who have resided in the United States for five years since their date of entry; refugees and asylees as defined by the Immigration and Naturalization Act; parolees of at least one year who entered the United States before August 22, 1996; parolees of at least one year who entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996; parolees of at least one year who entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996, and have resided here for five years; and veterans and those currently on active duty. (PM 03-01-00)
Dependent child(ren) must live with a specified type of relative, including blood relatives, step-relatives, adoptive relatives, and spouses of blood-relatives. "Living with" means that the relative must exercise primary responsibility for the care and supervision of the child(ren). (The child or the caretaker relative may be temporarily absent from the home, but still meet the "living with" requirement.) (PM 03-05-00)
Families on strike are not eligible for TANF.
All adults and minor parents are required to sign a Responsibility and Services Plan and follow through with its provisions. PM 02-09-00
The plan will be periodically updated and staff will monitor the family’s progress and compliance. The plan will address child immunization, appropriate school attendance, family well being, and economic self-support goals. Any noncompliance with the plan can result in sanctions.
Supportive Services: Assistance is provided for a client whose approved plan requires such services. Supportive services include child care, transportation, books, fees (e.g., lab or registration), supplies, initial employment expenses, job retention expenses, and a $20 per month payment to individuals in Work First or work experience to help cover additional expenses. Supportive services of transportation, initial employment expenses, costs of books and fees will be provided to clients in accordance with their plan. Child Care is provided via the Child Care and Developmental Fund. Any child care co-payment for clients who are not employed can also be offset as a TANF supportive service cost.
Sanctions for failure to cooperate with employment or child support activities will be applied to families participating in the Illinois TANF Program.
Reconciliation is the process for persons who disagree with the activities included in their RASP or who are accused of failure to comply with requirements and are facing sanctions. It can resolve differences about the plan, they can claim good cause or valid reason for not complying, or show compliance. This process must begin within 14 days after the person disagrees with the plan or fails to satisfy a requirement.
First stage of reconciliation examines is good cause exists for failure to cooperate – if yes then the person is given the chance to cooperate; if no then it moves to the second stage.
Second stage of reconciliation may include a mediator. Cases involving a dispute (not good cause) begin at this stage. The goal is to resolve the dispute at this level. If an agreement is reached it is written up in a reconciliation agreement. The recipient is given the opportunity to perform the reconciliation agreement. If she fails to perform without good cause, the sanction is imposed.
The first instance of non-cooperation without good cause results in the assistance payment being reduced by 50% until the cooperation requirement is satisfied or three months of reduced payments have been issued. If cooperation has not occurred at the end of three months, the entire assistance payment is discontinued.
The second instance of non-cooperation without good cause results in the assistance payment being reduced by 50% for a minimum of three months. If cooperation has not occurred at the conclusion of three months, the entire assistance payment will be discontinued.
The third instance of non-cooperation without good cause results in the payment being discontinued for a minimum of three months and will not be resumed until cooperation has occurred.
Individuals who are sanctioned will be contacted at least one time per month to attempt to re-engage the client back into the program. Individuals are expected to continue to participate in employment activities even while sanctioned; supportive services will continue to be paid while in sanction status as long as the individual continues participating.
Finally, when a sanction has been imposed, that sanction will not affect receipt of Medical Assistance, unless it is a child support sanction, which results in the non-cooperating person losing Medical Assistance, unless she is pregnant. Food stamps will continue during a sanction, but they may not be increased to reflect a loss of benefits.
Good cause includes the failure of DHS to make available a supportive service agreed upon in the Plan. Good cause also includes but is not limited to temporary illness for its duration; family crisis; child care is necessary for the participation, or employment and such care is not available for a child under age 13; or the individual is homeless.
A client in a one parent case who is required to be in a work, training, or other self-sufficiency activity must participate an average of at least 30 hours per week. Participation hours include hours the applicant or client works and hours they participate in a work, training, or other self-sufficiency activity.
A young parent under age 20 who has not completed their high school education must participate in Teen Parent Services.
Two parent cases:
One or both parents in a case may be required to work or take part in a work activity, depending upon the family situation. The combined hours must total at least 35 per week. Participation hours include hours the applicants or clients work and hours they participate in a work, training, or other self-sufficiency activity. One parent in a two parent case must work or take part in Work Experience or another work activity for at least 30 hours per week.
(If one adult is exempt or has a barrier, then the case is considered a one parent case "04").
Clients Exempt from Work and Training Activities
An exempt client is not required to include work and training activities in their plan. If an exempt client agrees to participate as part of their Responsibility and Services Plan, they cannot be sanctioned.
An applicant or client who meets one of the following reasons is exempt from work and training activities.
An applicant or client is exempt if personally providing care for a child under age 1 living in the home. The person must be the parent or another adult relative living in the home. Only one person in a case can use this exemption.
A minor parent under age 20 who has not completed high school or earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate cannot claim an exemption for the care of a child under age 1. The minor parent is required to attend school full-time or complete other approved activities, unless they have a child under age 12 weeks.
A child who is not a parent is exempt.
A person age 60 or older is exempt.
Some individuals will not be required to participate in work and training activities due to certain barriers. These include:
An applicant or client with a temporary or chronic medical condition may have an illness or injury serious enough to prevent the person from working or participating in activities. When a determination of a medical barrier is pending or is under appeal, a client is not required to participate in a work or training activity.
Activities relevant to establishing the medical barrier (e.g., keeping medical appointments, obtaining medical information, etc.) must be included as part of the client’s RSP. Self-sufficiency activities other than work and training activities (e.g., parenting classes) that are appropriate to the client, may be included in the RSP as long as the client’s barrier does not prevent the client from participating in them. A sanction may be imposed based on failure to participate in other self-sufficiency activities if the client does not have good cause.
The Client Assessment Unit (CAU) decides whether or not the person has a temporary or chronic medical barrier.
A client automatically has a barrier to participation in work, training, or other self-sufficiency activities when they have a child living with them who is approved under the Home & Community-based Care Program (see PM 06-11-01).
A client has a barrier to participation in work, training, or other self-sufficiency activities when they are approved to provide full-time care to a related child under age 18 or spouse living in the home, due to that person's medical condition. The Client Assessment Unit (CAU) makes this determination. Participation in work and training activities is not required while the determination is pending or is under appeal.
If a client cannot participate in work or training because they must care fore someone who is not a related child under age 18 or spouse, the client should be referred to the Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS) or the Department on Aging (DoA). Care of others includes persons such as related children age 18 and over,parents, grandparents, unrelated persons of any age, etc. Clients are not required to in work and training during the referral process, while ORS or DoA makes a decision.
A person may be excused from participating in work and training activities with a Domestic Violence Exclusion if:
A person does not have to be receiving services from a domestic violence service provider to qualify for the exclusion.
Applicants for TANF who do not have a barrier or are not exempt from Work and Training Activities may be required to participate in activities while their application is pending. These individuals must be given a Family Assessment before being assigned to an activity. Supportive services, such as child care and transportation should be provided by a Front Door partner.
TANF applications must be processed within 30 days. Benefits are payable from the date of application. Individuals eligible for Crisis Assistance are eligible for benefits within five workdays days.
Crisis Assistance payments may be provided when:
- a fire, flood, or other natural disaster; or
- an eviction or court order to vacate the home for any reason.
There are time limits relevant to the Illinois program:
1. No family may receive TANF if one or both adults have received 60 months of TANF benefits which include Federal Block Grant Funds. Beginning July 1, 1997, all months of TANF benefits are counted against the 60, including those received in other states, and in noncontinuous months. Months that do not count against the 60 month clock:
Certain families can receive benefits beyond the 60- month limit.
When an adult reaches the 60-month limit, the adult is ineligible for TANF benefits, unless an adult in the case qualifies for an exception reason. When the ineligible adult is a parent, their children who live with them are also ineligible for cash benefits as children. If a child is a minor parent, the child is eligible as an adult in a separate case with their child. If a child whose parent is ineligible due to the time limit goes to live with another relative and the parent is not in the home, the relative may receive TANF for the child. The relative may also be included in the case if they have not reached their 60-month limit and are otherwise eligible.
Exception policy may apply any time a person or family would be ineligible due to the 60-month limit on receipt of TANF. A client may qualify for an exception at the end of the 60 months or when reapplying for TANF at a later time. When a client qualifies for an exception, the family receives TANF benefits as though there were no time limit. The rest of TANF policy continues to apply.
To be approved for an exception, the family must meet one or more of the following exception reasons:
If there are 2 adults in the case, only one of them has to meet an exception reason for the entire family to receive cash assistance. If one adult’s counter is over 60 and the other adult’s counter is under 60, either person can qualify for the exception.
SSI. There is a special relationship between TANF and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits (SSI). SSI recipients may not receive TANF. They are not part of any TANF assistance unit, nor are their income or assets counted against any TANF unit. But a SSI recipient is taken into consideration for purposes of whether a TANF unit meets the "living with" requirement or any other non-financial factor of eligibility. For example, consider a mother and child where the child receives SSI. The presence of the child establishes that the mother and child meet the non-financial eligibility requirements to be considered a TANF assistance unit: the child "lives with" a specified caretaker relative. For financial purposes, however, the child is "invisible": the unit receives the standard TANF payment for a family consisting of one adult and no children (rather than one adult and one child), and the child’s SSI payment will not count to reduce the mother’s TANF grant. Note that all income and assets of an SSI recipient are exempt from TANF consideration. If the child in the example received Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits in addition to the SSI, they would be exempt, too, even though OASDI benefits are usually not otherwise exempt from TANF consideration.
Other Disability Payments - Disability payments from other government disability programs (i.e. OASDI, Railroad Retirement, Black Lung and Veterans (100% disability) are exempt up to the amount of the current SSI amount, currently $552.
Children who are wards of the state are eligible to receive
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