Apply For New Jersey TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for New Jersey TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Work First New Jersey (WFNJ), may help you become self-supportive while receiving monthly cash benefits to meet your everyday needs such as rent, utilities, clothes, transportation, or additional expenses.

Sometimes you may not be eligible to receive TANF for yourself, but a child or children in your household may. The TANF program is administered by the Department of Human Services. In most cases, in order to qualify for TANF you must meet both types of eligibility, categorical and financial.

Additionally, to qualify for TANF there are work requirements. The NJ TANF program requires most adults be employed or participate in certain work-related activities, which you will be assigned for a certain number of hours on a weekly basis in order to continue receiving TANF benefits.

The total number of hours needed to fulfill your work activity requirement depends on your family composition. Qualified state residents are required to produce information including household income, age, citizenship and resources.

Only household members who are eligible for New Jersey TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for NJ TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF New Jersey.

New Jersey TANF is a program which provides temporary financial assistance to eligible families with children. The family receives a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs. To be eligible, a family must be financially needy and must meet certain requirements.

The amount of the TANF check is based on the size of the family. A family may still be eligible to receive TANF while receiving money from other benefits. New Jersey is one of only a few states that also provides cash benefits and support services to individuals and couples with no dependent children, through their General Assistance (GA) program.

To receive assistance, you will need to cooperate with child support requirements if you have dependent children. You will have to work, actively look for work or participate in an approved work activity.

The WorkFirst New Jersey program:

  • Works to end welfare dependency by limiting assistance to five years, and offering you the tools to find a job and to take pride in working toward independence
  • Works to help children by helping you get child support payments to care for your dependent children
  • Works toward self-sufficiency by allowing you to keep more of your paycheck when you get a job
  • Works to keep you on the job by helping with child care, health care, transportation, housing and other support services, if needed
  • Works for a brighter future for parents and children by keeping teen parents at home and in school

New Jersey TANF eligibility

To be eligible for the New Jersey TANF program, an applicant must:

  • Live in New Jersey
  • Be a US citizen or qualified immigrant whose documents allow them to remain in this country permanently
Teen parents

For teen parents applying for WorkFirst New Jersey, they must accept to live with either their parents or in the absence of parents they must arrange with their case worker to live with another responsible adult or guardian.

Completion of education

If an applicant is under the age of 20 and he or she has not finished high school, they are required to make arrangements to finish high school, or attend a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

For those participants who are either 18 or 19 this requirement can be met by participating in an education program that has been approved by their individual case workers.

Family cap

In the event that a participant gives birth within 10 months of application, they are not entitled to an increase in the WorkFirst New Jersey benefits. However, the newborn child is eligible to such programs as food stamps, Medicaid, and child care.

Apply for New Jersey TANF

Prior to applying, you can use their online pre-screening tool to see if you are eligible for NJ TANF benefits. You can apply for New Jersey TANF benefits online at Before you begin to fill out the application online, you will need the following information for yourself and the people for whom you want to apply:

  • Names and birth dates
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Information about other health insurance
  • Information about income, both work income and any other income

Or if you prefer, you can apply in person by visiting your local DHS office. To view a list of locations, find a DHS office near you. To download a copy of the TANF application, click here.

You can also get a copy at the DHS office you plan to apply at. If you have any questions or issues about the application process, then we recommend you contact the office for further assistance.

TANF time limits

After you begin receiving cash assistance, you are required to be at work or in a work activity as soon as possible, or as soon as your caseworker determines you are ready to begin work. You should begin work or a work activity immediately, unless you are deferred, but no later than 24 months after going on assistance.

Your caseworker will offer you the opportunity to participate. You will need to cooperate, or you will be sanctioned. This means your welfare grant will be reduced.

When you get a job and go off welfare, the "clock stops ticking" on your five-year limit. Any time you have left will remain available to use for a future emergency. There are, however, certain situations in which you may qualify for an extension of cash assistance.

Your caseworker will discuss these with you when you get close to your five-year limit. Once you use up your five years, you are no longer eligible for welfare. If benefits are received for only dependent children and/or teen parents, the months of receipt are not counted toward the five-year limit. The five-year limit begins once a teen parent reaches the age of 18.

New Jersey TANF EBT card

WFNJ uses an EBT (Electronic benefit transfer) card, called Families First, for you to access your cash assistance. The card can be used to withdraw cash benefits from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or to purchase food at grocery stores.

I was denied TANF benefits. What can I do?

State and local agencies are responsible for establishing the eligibility criteria and procedures that apply in their programs, not the Federal government. If you disagree with a decision regarding welfare benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. For more information about your state's appeals procedures, contact the NJ TANF office.