Apply For North Carolina TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for North Carolina TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called North Carolina Work First, 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 North Carolina Departments of Social 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 NC 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 North Carolina TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for NC TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF North Carolina.

North Carolina TANF eligibility

In order to qualify for Work First Family Assistance, you must:

  • Have children below 18 years living in your home
  • Cooperate with North Carolina Work First in the employment part of the program
  • Be a US National or qualified immigrant
  • Own no more than one vehicle per adult in the household
  • Cooperate with Child Support enforcement
  • Have up to but not more than $3,000 in resources. Resources include cash, savings, cash value of whole life insurance policies, etc
  • Be related with the child, or have legal custody or guardianship of a child
  • Have a yearly income below the amounts listed below, before taxes:
Household Size Monthly Income
1 $362
2 $472
3 $544
4 $594
5 $648
6 $698
7 $746
8 $772

Any person meeting the above financial guidelines with children less than 18 years and has not exhausted the 60-month federal time limit for receiving assistance may be eligible for NC Work First. There are some cases that are specific to children only in which an adult is not eligible for benefit.

Documents needed to apply for TANF

Below is a list of documents you need when applying for the North Carolina TANF program:


Passport, ID, other primary documents. Needed for application or if questionable.

Address/Living Arrangement

Valid NC driver's license, lease agreement, utility bill. Needed for application, review, change in situation.


Birth certificate. Need for application, change in situation.


Birth certificate, copy of court order documents. Needed for application, change in situation.

Citizenship/Alien Status

Passport, ID, other primary documents. Needed for application or if questionable.

Social Security Number

Valid social security card or number. Needed for application or until received.

Income/Wages/Trust etc

Wage stubs, verification from employer, tax forms, award letter. Needed for application, review, change in situation.


Ownership and tax records, bank and court documents. Needed for application, review, change in situation.

Apply for North Carolina TANF

Work First applicants are required to register for the First Stop Employment Assistance Program with the Employment Security Commission (ESC). Failure to register results in the family's ineligibility for Work First Family Assistance.

You can apply in person at the local Departments of Social Services (DSS) office, to view a list of locations, find a DSS office near you. To download a copy of the TANF application, click here.

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 NC TANF office.