TANF Program Benefits in Virginia


The TANF benefits program in Virginia ensures that needy families have access to financial aid and important services to help them succeed. While TANF benefits include cash assistance, the program encourages families to become independent and support themselves through additional services. Since the programs aim for Virginia families to become self-sufficient, financial benefits are not permanent. However, the answer to, “How long do TANF benefits last?” is somewhat dependent on families’ perceived autonomy and overall limits. Additionally, TANF benefits may not be distributed on a regular basis and are distributed in varying amounts to all beneficiaries. Since beneficiaries have different needs, TANF benefits also range in services from counseling to transportation to meet most TANF recipients’ needs. To learn how TANF benefits can help you and your family become financially independent and help you care for your family temporarily, review the following sections. For more information on TANF benefits, benefit periods and benefit calculations, download our comprehensive guide here.

What TANF benefits are available for residents in Virginia?

While TANF benefits include financial assistance for families struggling, program benefits consist of more than just cash payments. For instance, the TANF benefits program includes services such as childcare, transportation assistance to places of employment or school and job resources. Additionally, food, health and housing benefits may be included for families who are eligible for TANF coverage. TANF participation may enable families to receive government aid from other programs as well. For example, families may enroll in SNAP and Medicaid in addition to TANF.

Using cash resources from the TANF program, TANF beneficiaries can purchase most food items, supplies for work or job training, clothing and other items required for maintaining healthy lives. Since all TANF benefits are meant to help needy children receive proper care, cash payments should be spent on items and services that promote TANF’s goal. TANF also encourages the formation and perpetuation of two-parent families that can care for children, so other TANF benefits may include marriage counseling services and educational services designed to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

TANF benefits may also include child support payments to recipients with absent parents. The TANF benefits program requires single-parent families to cooperate in the attainment of child support payment. The VA Department of Social Services will collect the child support payments form the absent parent and send payment directly to TANF recipients after subtracting the sum from the total benefits they would receive. For more information on TANF benefits, download our detailed guide here.

How long do TANF benefits last in Virginia?

The TANF benefits program in Virginia is not a permanent solution for needy families. TANF benefits have a maximum lifetime limit. In other words, families may no longer receive benefits after participating in the TANF benefits program for a total of five years. However, the duration of payments and the use of TANF services does not have to be consecutive to count towards the lifetime benefit limit. Adults who have received TANF benefits as children may qualify for an additional benefit duration if they meet TANF requirements as adults.

How long TANF benefits last is further restricted by participation in Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW) program. VA residents enrolled in VIEW have shorter TANF benefit periods since these enrollees are expected to earn more money and recover faster from financial difficulties than residents receiving TANF without additional income. Some residents may receive TANF benefits for an even shorter period. This occurs when families meet the requirements for emergency TANF. Emergency TANF allows families to receive TANF benefits that do not last as long as traditional benefits. Instead of receiving multiple, monthly checks with cash payments, families with emergency TANF benefits can choose to receive a one-time TANF payment to cover necessary expenses immediately. While this can help families dealing with temporary hardships, it is not a recommended option for families with recurring or chronic difficulties. Since families receiving emergency benefits through the TANF program do not continue to receive benefits, they may not be eligible for other TANF services besides the cash payment.

To continue receiving TANF benefits, some residents may be able to apply for a hardship exception. TANF benefit extensions may be granted to VA residents for up to one year beyond their benefit limit. However, extensions are only awarded to residents who demonstrate extreme hardships.

How is the TANF benefit amount determined in Virginia?

TANF benefits are calculated based on gross countable income values for each assistance unit such as a group of residents living and requesting TANF coverage together. TANF benefit amounts may also depend on beneficiaries’ involvement in other government assistance programs. To calculate TANF benefits, VDSS employees must assess applicants’ financial need in comparison to collected benefits (if applicable) and the number of residents requiring financial aid in the household. Through this process, the TANF benefit program ensures that families receive the correct amount of benefits.

Virginia Department of Social Services