Apply For Wisconsin TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for Wisconsin TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Wisconsin Works (W-2), 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 Children and Families. 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 WI 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 Wisconsin TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for WI TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF Wisconsin.

W-2 is a time-limited program that provides temporary cash assistance and case management services to low-income parents and pregnant women. W-2 is a work program for adults willing to engage in work activities; it is not an entitlement.

Wisconsin TANF eligibility

Low-income parents and pregnant women may participate in W-2. Both you and your child's other parent may be eligible for W-2, even if your child only lives with you. The purpose of the Wisconsin TANF program is to help you gain the skills you need to get a job and provide for your family.

If you have a disability, a worker at a Wisconsin W-2 agency can help you apply for disability-related benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Lastly, if you are a pregnant woman, W-2 can provide cash assistance and case management services. A worker at the W-2 Agency determines if you are eligible for TANF benefits.

To see if you are eligible for TANF benefits, you can use the ACCESS website where they have an interactive interview that can help determine eligibility of the W-2 program. You must apply at your local W-2 Agency even if you complete the ACCESS interview. Below is a list of services the WI TANF program provides:

  • Case management services
  • Vocational education and training
  • Assistance with searching for housing, child care, and employment
  • Assistance applying for SSI/SSDI and
  • Work experience, through supervised worksites

Wisconsin TANF work requirements

You are required to participate in work or activities to help you get ready to work, in exchange for cash assistance. A worker at the W-2 Agency will determine which activities are appropriate for you and if you need additional services to participate.

Apply for Wisconsin TANF

To apply for WI TANF benefits, you can download a copy of the TANF application and submit it in-person to your local W-2 agency. To find a location, view a list of W-2 agencies near you. If you have questions or issues about the application process, you can also contact a W-2 agency for further assistance.

Documents needed to apply for TANF

Below is a list of documents you will need when applying for TANF Wisconsin:

Social security number

Social Security card, award letter from Social Security Administration, hospital discharge letter referencing the newborn's SSN application, or receipt for SSN application.

Citizenship, non-citizen status

Passport, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, birth certificate, adoption papers, alien registration card, US Immigration form I-94, military ID card, hospital or medical records, nursing home admission record.


Passport, State or territory driver license, school records, certain US American Indian or Alaska Native tribal documents, Written Affidavit, US military card or draft record, US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card, identification card issued by state, federal or local government agency.

Age and relationship

Birth certificate, adoption papers, alien registration card, hospital or medical records, baptismal certificate, school records or ID, court records, marriage certificate, divorce or separation papers or death certificate.

School enrollment or other status

Letter from school, report card, diploma, GED certificate or high school equivalency diploma.

Monthly rent or house payment

Current rent receipt with landlord's name and phone number on it, lease or mortgage papers, real estate property tax statement, homeowner's insurance statement.

Unearned income

Unemployment Insurance Disability Insurance, Social Security, Retirement, Veteran's Benefits, Military Allotments
Award letter or copy of last check.

Child support

Court order or payment record from other state.

Savings and checking accounts

Current credit union or bank statements.

Insurance policies

Life insurance policy and the insurance company's statement on the policy's current cash value.

Trust funds

Trust agreement or court order.

Other savings or investment certificates of deposit etc

Statement from stockbroker, copy of bonds, or current bank, credit union or savings and loan statement.

Real estate

Deeds or titles, real estate receipts or tax records and statement of current value from local business.


For FS, you can use any item that provides your address such as a Driver's License, mail to your address, rent receipt or a lease, etc. For CC you must be a Wisconsin resident and provide proof of address in the form of a lease agreement or utility bill listing the household's address. For W-2 you can use any item that proves Wisconsin residency.


Car title or registration, written statement from car dealer, loan papers or sales receipt, or State Division of Motor Vehicle statement.

Earned income

All check stubs received in the last 30 days or a signed statement from your employer that includes gross earnings and pay dates expected for the next 30 days, Employer Verification of Earnings form.

Earned income (self-employment)

Most recent income tax returns (including Schedules SE, F, or C) or bookkeeping records.

I am a minor parent. What services are available to me through W-2?
W-2 provides services specific to minor parents.

My children don't live with me, what services are available through W-2?
If your children don't live with you, you are considered a noncustodial parent. Wisconsin offers many services to help low-income noncustodial parents become self-sufficient and able to pay child support.

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 WI TANF office.