Apply For Tennessee TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for Tennessee TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Tennessee Families 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 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 TN 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 Tennessee TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for TN TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF Tennessee.

Tennessee TANF eligibility

Families First provides assistance to families who have children, and are experiencing financial difficulties. These benefits are time-limited to 60 months in a participant's lifetime. The Families First program emphasizes work, training, and personal responsibility. To be eligible for the program, participants must agree to follow a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP). As part of the PRP, the participant agrees to:

  • Make sure their children receive immunization shots and health checks
  • Make sure their children attend school, including kindergarten regularly
  • Cooperate with child support requirements
  • Agree to work or attend work preparation activity, if not exempt

Unless a participant is exempt from the 30-hour work requirement, he/she will develop, with the assistance of an Employment and Case Management Services (ECMS) provider, a family empower plan (FEP). The FEP is a family-centered, strengths-based plan that focuses on the family's progress from a Two-Generation Approach throughout the case to ensure services are tailored to best address the family's strengths and needs.

Participants must comply with the plan that they developed with the ECMS provider. Failure to comply without good cause could affect the participant's eligibility to access program services and cash benefits.

Child only cases

This is a special category of exemption. When a child lives with a relative who is not their parent, the adult may choose to be excluded from the case. When the parent(s) collect SSI, they are also excluded from the case.

Apply for Tennessee TANF

People may apply for Families First benefits at their local Department of Human Services (DHS) county office or by applying online using the Family Assistance (FA) online application. To find a location, view a list of DHS county offices near you.

You can download a copy of the TANF application by clicking here, fill it out and either mail or fax it to a county office. Or if you prefer, you can apply for TANF benefits online by going to

In order to determine eligibility for the program, DHS caseworkers may ask for documentation like birth certificates, social security cards, check stubs, bank statements, utility bills, rent receipts, tax returns, and insurance policies.

Applicants are notified by mail (within 45 days of the application date for Families First 30 days of the application date for SNAP) of the eligibility decision.

Families First cash assistance benefits are issued and accessed electronically using a Benefit Security Card or EBT Card. Current Families First recipients can find information on their Families First case with CaseConnect. If you do not already have a TDHS account, you will need to create one to access services.

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 TN TANF office.