Family Assistance (FA) provides cash assistance to needy families
that include a minor child living with one or both parents or
a caretaker relative. FA operates under Federal Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF) guidelines. FA is one of two programs
providing temporary cash assistance in New York State. The other
is SAFETY NET, a New York State program with no federal participation.
All recipients except those in the Child Assistance Program (a local district, optional component of the State's FA program) are subject to a gross income test.
Effective June 1, 2006, the gross earned and unearned income of applicants for and recipients of FA cannot exceed the 2006 Federal Poverty guidelines as published in the Federal Register by family size, and available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/poverty.shtml. The Poverty level Test applies to all FA households except those residing temporarily in a hotel/motel, homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, AIDS housing or congregate care facility.
Exception to Income Test
for Prevention of Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy:
Youth under 21 years of age and other individuals at
risk for out-of-wedlock pregnancies or single parenthood
may be eligible without regard to income for FA cash
benefits and related services in order to prevent out-of-wedlock
pregnancy and to encourage formation and maintenance
of 2-parent families.
Assets: Recipients are subject
to the following limits on countable assets:
with no elderly members (age 60 or older), $2,000
except recipients in the Child Assistance Program.
• Families with
an elderly member (age 60 or older), $3,000 except recipients in the Child Assistance Program.
Exception to Asset Limits: The Child Assistance Program (CAP) requires that applicants meet the FA resource test at an initial certification for CAP. However, no assets test is applied thereafter, allowing participants to acquire assets in excess of the ordinary FA limits. (See OTHER ELIGIBILITY CONDITIONS for CAP eligibility).
For recipients who own a car, the fair market value
of a car above $4,650 is treated as a countable asset.
If the recipient is seeking employment or is employed,
there are allowances for increased car value up to $9,300.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is exempt as income
or a resource. Also exempt is an amount up to $4,650
in a separate bank account established by an individual
while currently in receipt of assistance for the sole
purpose of enabling the individual to purchase a first
or replacement vehicle for the recipient to seek, obtain
or maintain employment, so long as the funds are not
used for any other purpose. Funds withdrawn for reasons
other than the purchase of a first or replacement vehicle
nullify the intent of the account. The full amount of
the funds in the account prior to the withdrawal become
countable toward the public assistance household’s
resource limit beginning with the month of the withdrawal.
For age of children, See Presence
of Children below.
Age of Parents:
Unmarried individuals under the age of 18 and with a
child over 12 weeks of age in their care and who have
not successfully completed high school or its equivalent
are ineligible for TANF assistance. However, the educational
requirement would be satisfied if the individual is
working towards a high school diploma or its equivalent
or participating in an alternative program approved
by the caseworker.
not a condition.
Presence of Spouse:
not a condition. All two-parent families are eligible
for assistance based on the same eligibility criteria
as single parent families.
To be eligible for TANF cash assistance, families must
include a minor child, defined as a child under age
18 or a child between ages 18 and 19 who is a full-time
student in a secondary school or equivalent level of
A pregnant woman with no other children is eligible
for assistance, beginning when the pregnancy is medically
The grandparent of a child of a minor parent is required to be in the same assistance unit with the minor parent and child if the grandparent resides in the same home and receives assistance.
The relationship of the caretaker to the child must
be documented. At a minimum, documentation must include
the applicant’s declaration of the relationship
on the application plus a third party statement attesting
to the relationship. The caretaker must cooperate with
any attempt by the State to secure additional documentation
of the relationship.
Not a condition.
Exhaustion of Benefits From Other
Not a condition.
A family member receiving SSI benefits is excluded
from the assistance unit. The SSI recipient's income
and resources are not considered when determining eligibility
or benefits for the rest of the family.
Participation in Work Program:
TANF legislation requires that states must have 50%
of their caseload in specified work activities. New
York State carries out this requirement in the following
Parents and other adult relative who can work must be
working or involved in work-like activities after receiving
FA benefits for 2 years, or sooner, if the local Department
of Social Services (DSS) decides they can work earlier.
Single parent recipients are required to work or participate
in a designated form of work experience or training
at least 30 hours per week to count toward Federally-mandated
TANF work participation requirements, except for single
parents with a child under 6 years of age. A single
parent with a child under 6 is considered engaged in
work if the recipient participates in 20 hours of work
per week. One parent in a two-parent family must work
35 hours per week. States are required to engage 90% of all two-parent households in which neither parent is disabled in work activities for 35 hours averaged weekly, or 55 hours averaged weekly, if the household received federally funded child care assistance.
To count toward the work requirement, recipients must
participate in one or more of the following: unsubsidized
or subsidized employment, on-the-job training, work
experience, community service, up to 12 months of vocational
education, or provide child care services to individuals
who are participating in community service. Beyond 20
hours per week (35 for two-parent families), participation
may also include job skills training related to employment,
education directly related to employment (for recipients
lacking a diploma or GED), and secondary school or GED
Exempted from the work requirement are: Custodial parents
or caretakers of children under 1 year of age for a
total of 12 months (lifetime), with only 3 months exemption
for any one child of the parent or caretaker, unless
the local DSS decides to use more than the 3 months
or all of the maximum 12 months for any 1 child; a woman
who is pregnant, beginning 30 days prior to the medically
verified, expected date of delivery of the child; Individuals
who are ill, incapacitated, 60 years old or older or
disabled as defined by State law; an individual whose
presence is required in the home as a caretaker of an
incapacitated family member; a child who is under 16
years of age or under the age of 19 and attending full
time a secondary, vocational or technical school.
All FA applicants and recipients are informed that
their FA benefits cannot be reduced or terminated if
they are not participating in work requirements due
to a lack of suitable child care through the issuance
of a notice from the local Department of Social Services.
State law provides sanctions for individuals who quit
employment to obtain benefits, as follows:
1) Applicants: disqualified for 90 days from the date
of the quit.
2) Recipients: sanctioned the same as an individual
whose family fails to comply with employment requirements.
Every teen-age parent under 18 years of age who lacks
a high school diploma or the equivalent must be satisfactorily
attending programs leading to a secondary credential
or the equivalent or to employment.
Job search in fulfillment of the work requirement is
limited to 6 weeks.
Citizenship/ Legal Alien Status:
Must be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien. Illegal
aliens, undocumented aliens, or aliens with a temporary
immigration status are not eligible for FA but may be
eligible for Safety Net (See Safety Net: Citizenship
/Legal Alien Status).
The following qualified aliens are eligible for FA
for the first 5 years from the date the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) designation was granted: a refugee; an asylee; a person for whom deportation was withheld; a Cuban or Haitian entrant; an alien admitted into the United States
as an Amerasian immigrant; a person lawfully admitted for permanent
residence into the United States who has worked for
40 quarters as defined under Title II of the Social
Security Act, or who can be credited with such qualifying
quarters exclusive of any quarter after December 31,
1996, in which such person or such person’s parent
or spouse received any federal means tested assistance,
whose entry into the United States was at least 5 years
earlier or who entered the United States prior to August
22, 1996; any qualified alien who is on active duty, other than duty for training, in the United States Armed Forces or who has received a discharge characterized as honorable and not on account of alien age, or their spouse, unremarried surviving spouse, or unmarried dependent child of any such alien who is also a qualified alien;
a qualified alien who entered the United States before August 22, 1996, or who entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996, and has resided in the United States for 5 or more years.
Other Eligibility Conditions:
60 Month Limit on FA:
To be eligible adults are limited to receiving benefits
for a total of 60 months in their lifetime, including
months of TANF-funded assistance granted in other states.
Once this limit is reached, that adult and all members
of his or her FA household are ineligible to receive
any more FA benefits. The months need not be consecutive;
each individual month in which TANF-funded benefits
are received is included in the lifetime count.
Absent Child Exception:
A family that has exceeded the 60-month limit can continue
to receive assistance for a child who is absent from
the home for a period not to exceed 45 days. This allowable
period can be extended under the following circumstances
foster care placement (provided that the goal is return
to the household); visits to friends or relatives; attendance
at school or camp, or hospitalization.
Alternative Assistance for Families
Who Exceed the 60-Month Limit:
A State may exempt up to 20% of its caseload from the
5-year time limit on grounds of hardship or the family's
inclusion of a battered woman. State funds used to aid
persons ineligible for FA because of the 5-year time
limit or new alien rules may be counted toward the State’s
The State operates a finger-imaging program for purposes
of identification of recipients and prevention of fraud.
Persons must submit to required finger imaging in order
to be eligible for assistance.
All heads of households and adult recipients of FA must be screened for alcoholism and/or substance abuse as part of the initial application and for recertification. Testing is also required at the discretion of the local district if there is evidence to indicate potential alcohol and/or drug abuse but otherwise may be conducted no more frequently than every six months.
If the screening process indicates that these is reason to believe that an applicant or recipient is abusing or dependent on alcohol or drugs, the local district will require a formal assessment, which may include drug testing, to be performed by a certified alcohol or substance abuse counselor. If the formal assessment determines that the applicant or recipient is unable to work by reason of alcoholism or substance abuse, the individual must be referred to an appropriate treatment program. Such person and other members of that household, if otherwise eligible, receive non-cash assistance.
A person who fails to participate in the screening and/or assessment process is ineligible for FA. Other members of a household that includes an individual who has failed to participate in the screening and/or assessment process shall, if otherwise eligible, receive non-cash assistance. If an applicant or recipient of FA who is required to participate in an appropriate treatment program fails to particle without good cause or leaves the program prior to completion without good cause, the individual is disqualified from receiving assistance for the time periods listed: (1). for the first failure to participate in or complete the program, until the failure ceases or for 45 days, whichever period of time is longer; (2). for the second failure, until the failure ceases or for 120 days, whichever period of time is longer; and (3). for the third and subsequent failures, until the failure ceases or 180 days, whichever period of time is longer.
The family of the disqualified person received non-cash assistance, if otherwise eligible. Persons disqualified for failing to participate in or complete treatment who return to treatment prior to the end of the disqualification who are receiving care in an office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse certified congregate care level II facility, or residential program, if otherwise eligible, receive non-cash assistance. Whether the applicant or recipient has completed the treatment program will be determined solely by using the guidelines and rules of the treatment program.
Prevention of Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy:
The State may provide TANF-funded benefits and services
(i.e., FA) to eligible individuals and families without
regard to income to prevent or reduce the incidence
of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and to encourage the formation
and maintenance of two-parent families. The services
are targeted to youth under 21 years of age, other individuals
at risk of out-of-wedlock births or single parenthood,
and non-custodial parents.
Ineligibility and Sanctions:
Fraud with Respect to Residence:
Individuals who have been convicted in federal
court of having made a fraudulent statement or representation
with respect to their place of residence in order to
receive TANF-funded assistance from 2 or more states
are ineligible for 10 years.
Avoidance of Prosecution:
Persons who are fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody,
or confinement under the laws of the place from which
the individual flees for a crime or attempts to commit
a crime are ineligible for TANF-funded assistance (FA
in New York State). This includes a felony under the
laws of the place from which the individual flees.
Violating Probation or Parole:
Individuals who are violating a condition of probation
or parole imposed under Federal or State laws are ineligible
for TANF-funded assistance (FA in New York State).
Intentional Program Violations:
Sanctions for intentional program violations are based
on the number of previous offenses and the dollar value
of the offense: 6-month disqualification for a 1st offense
that is less than $1,000; 12-months disqualification
for a 2nd offense or an offense between $1,000 and $3,900;
18-month disqualification for a 3rd offense or offense
greater than $3,900; 5-year disqualification for any
Child Support Orders and Child Assistance
To be eligible for CAP, which permits families to acquire
assets while receiving public assistance, FA custodial
parents must possess a child-support order for each
child participating in the program, unless the custodial
parents do not possess a child-support order because: the absent parent is deceased; the custodial parent has good cause for not establishing paternity or pursuing a child-support order, such as battering or threat of harm; despite a diligent effort by the custodial parent, a child-support order is not available in a reasonable period of time for reasons outside the custodial parent’s control; or, the child resides with both parents and paternity has been acknowledged or adjudicated.
Monthly cash benefits. FA recipients, except for those in CAP, are automatically
eligible for Food Stamps, Medicaid, and HEAP. CAP recipients need to apply for Medicaid.
Cash public assistance, as well as Food Stamps, is delivered
through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) in New York
State. Beneficiaries receive a plastic card in the mail,
which is used to obtain access to benefits to buy food
and other items and to withdraw cash. This one card provides
access both to cash assistance and Food Stamp accounts (if
receiving Food Stamps). Two free cash withdrawal ATM's are provided without surcharge. Each extra ATM transaction
costs 50 ¢; this fee is taken automatically out of
the cash benefit account.
Beneficiaries can telephone 1-888-328-6399 for the balance
on the cards. This is a free call. FA recipients, except for CAP recipients, are automatically eligible for Food Stamps and Medicaid.
Recipients may also be eligible for job skills training
provided through the New York State Department of Labor's
InVEST Program; parenting skills services offered through
the New York State Office of Children and Family Services;
job coach/mentor programs offered through the Department
of Labor; wrap-around services for persons in need of
substance abuse services through the New York State Office
of Temporary and Disability Assistance; wage subsidies
offered by the State Department of Labor; and health care
worker recruitment and training offered by the New York
State Department of Health.
Recipients are guaranteed childcare for children under
13, if necessary for parent or caretaker’s participation
in work activities or in order to accept or keep a job.
Transitional childcare assistance is guaranteed for up
to 12 months for families leaving TANF for employment
until their income exceeds a county-established limit
that cannot exceed 200% of the poverty level. To receive
the 12-month guarantee, the household must have received
FA in 3 of the preceding 6 months.
Teenage mothers receiving assistance are required
to attend school or work and to
live with their parents. Families may access teen pregnancy
prevention programs, including abstinence education.
A recipient's benefit equals the difference between
countable income (income after specified deductions) and the maximum benefit. If countable
income exceeds the maximum benefit, the family is not eligible for assistance. The benefit calculation for families in the basic cash assistance program (FA) is different from the calculation for families in the Child Assistance Program (CAP). The average monthly cash benefit a family if $291.00.
Maximum monthly benefit for a family of three with no income living in New York City is $691. The corresponding maximum monthly benefit for a single individual is $352. New York State's highest level for a family of three is $703.
In region with Most Recipients
Lowest in State
Highest in State
For families in the basic cash assistance program, countable income equals gross monthly income less the deductions in the following order: up to $50 in child support income or $90 and 50% of remaining earnings.
Note: The percentage of earnings that is disregarded is adjusted upward annually under a formula set in New York State law.
in Recipient Status:
The FA grant will be continued for up to 1 month after
family circumstances change as a result of one of the
following: the caregiver adult relative is absent or a
child age 18 leaves school.
When a family receives a non-recurring lump sum payment
(such as a personal injury award or lottery winnings)
the family is ineligible for assistance for a period of
months equal to the lump sum divided by the State's need
Heads of households and adult recipients of FA must
be screened for alcoholism and/or substance abuse no
later than the next recertification, and thereafter
whenever the local DSS has evidence to indicate potential
alcohol and/or drug abuse but no more frequently than
every 6 months. If the screening process indicates that
there is reason to believe that an applicant or recipient
is abusing or dependent on alcohol or drugs, the local
DSS will require a formal assessment. All adult applicants/recipients
and heads of households who are determined to be not
employable due to alcohol/drug abuse (as determined
by the formal assessment) must participate in appropriate
alcohol/drug rehabilitation treatment as a condition
of eligibility for public assistance.
Changes in Benefit Levels:
B y Act of the New York State Legislature with the signature
of the Governor.
How to Apply:
Applicants should telephone or visit the local Department
of Social Services (DSS) in the county or New York City
to request an application package.
Applications for Public Assistance programs in Nassau County are taken at the Department of Social Services, 60 Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Uniondale, NY 11553. A satellite office is located at 450 N. Main Street, Freeport, NY 11520. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30AM to 8:00PM on Thursdays.
In Suffolk County, applications are taken at the Suffolk County DSS, 3085 Veterans Memorial Highway, Ronkonkoma, NY 11788-8900. Telephone: 1-631-854-9700.
For a list of local DSS offices in New York State, access
this web site:
After an application is filed, an appointment will be
made for an eligibility interview. The applicant will
be asked to supply documentation to verify the information
on the application form. All household members aged
18 years or older will be finger imaged. Determination
of the application is made within 30 days, and the applicant
will be notified of the decision by letter.
Levels of Government:
FA is jointly financed by the federal government and by
the state and local governments. The federal share is
approximately 50% and the remainder is split equally between the state
and the local or county governments.
Local Social Service Districts' (LSSD) costs for TA benefits historically have been reimbursed at 50 percent from separate TANF funds and 25 percent State, provided that the State meets the TANF Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements. Certain programs that have little or no LSSD operational requirements are funded separately by TANF. These programs include Alternatives to Incarceration, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services, Food Pantries, Home Visiting Program, Pregnancy Prevention and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
The federal share comes from general revenues, 89% of
which were derived from individual and corporate income
taxes in 2005. State and local general revenues are the
source of the non-federal share. State general revenues
are 95% of which are derived from:
income taxes (45%); sales tax (28%); charges for education, hospitals, etc. and miscellaneous taxes (22%) (2003-2004).
The federal law allows states to transfer up to 30% of
TANF funds to the Child Care and Development Block Grant
(CCDBG) and the Title XX Social Services Block Grant (SSBG),
but sets a limit of 10% on the share that can go to SSBG.
States may use TANF funds, within the overall 30% transfer
limit, as state matching funds for job access grants to
provide transportation services to TANF recipients and
ex-recipients, non-custodial parents of TANF children,
and those at “risk” of becoming eligible for
At the federal level, TANF is administered by the Department
of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children
In New York State the Office of Temporary and Disability
Assistance of the Department of Family Assistance administers
and supervises those portions of the State’s program
operated with TANF Block Grant funds. Those portions of
the program relating to training and work programs are
administered and supervised by the New York State Department
These Departments will work cooperatively with the New
York State Department of Health.
Procedures for Appeal:
Applicants or recipients who feel they have been unfairly
denied benefits by the local DSS have the right to appeal
to the Office of Administrative Hearings, an office
within Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
A Fair Hearing is an administrative law procedure in
which a determination made by the local DSS is challenged.
Based upon New York State (and Federal regulations),
the Fair Hearing provides the opportunity to respond
to DSS’s evidence and arguments and to present
evidence and arguments before an impartial Administrative
To request a Fair Hearing, applicants, recipients, or
their representatives (lawyers, social workers, translators,
etc.) should write to:
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201-1930
Telephone: 800-342-3334 or Fax: 518-473-6735
Alternatively appellants can telephone:
(212) 417-6550 in New York City
(516) 739-4868 in Nassau or Suffolk County
A request may also be submitted online using a form from the website:
Except for hearings which are given priority in scheduling,
at least 10 calendar days prior to the date of the Fair
Hearing, a written notice will be sent by the Office
of Administrative Hearings to the appellant, the appellant's
authorized representative and the relevant, local DSS.
The Fair Hearing notice will state the following: the
date, time and place of the Fair Hearing and an explanation
of how and when a change in the date and place of the
Fair Hearing may be requested, and under what circumstances
a hearing will be rescheduled if neither the appellant
nor the appellant's representative appears at the hearing;
whether public assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamp or services
such as childcare must be continued unchanged; and the
appellant's right upon request to necessary transportation
or to transportation expenses to and from the Fair Hearing
for the appellant and the appellant's authorized representatives
and witnesses and for payment of the appellant's necessary
child care costs; for any other necessary costs and expenditures
related to the Fair Hearing; the appellant's right to
be represented at the Fair Hearing by legal counsel, a
relative, friend or other person; and the right to bring
witnesses to the Fair Hearing and to question witnesses
at the hearing;
Deaf or non-English-speaking appellants have a right to
interpreter services at the Fair Hearing at no charge.
The Fair Hearing will be held at a time and place convenient
to the appellant as far as practicable. In scheduling
the hearing, the department will consider such things
as the physical inability of the appellant to travel to
the regular hearing location.
A Fair Hearing that is subject to priority processing
must be scheduled as soon as practicable after the request
is made. In determining the date for which the hearing
will be scheduled, consideration must be given to the
nature and urgency of the appellant's situation, including
any date before which the decision must be issued to allow
for meaningful resolution of the issue under review.
If public assistance, medical assistance, Food Stamps
or services such as childcare are continued and the Fair
Hearing is rescheduled, an appellant has the right to
have those benefits continued until the Fair Hearing decision
The following persons may be present at a Fair Hearing:
the appellant who has requested the Fair Hearing; the
appellant's representative; counsel or other representatives
of the social services agency; and witnesses of either
party and any who may be called by the hearing officer;
and an interpreter; and any other person admitted at
the hearing officer's discretion, with the consent of
To request an adjournment of a scheduled Fair Hearing,
clients and their representatives may telephone: 877-209-1134.
At a Fair Hearing concerning the denial of an application
for or the adequacy of public assistance, Medicaid,
HEAP, Food Stamps or services, the appellant must establish
that the agency's denial of assistance or benefits was
not correct or that the appellant is eligible for a
greater amount of assistance or benefits. Except where
otherwise established by law or regulation, in Fair
Hearings concerning the discontinuance, reduction, or
suspension of public assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamps
or services, the local DSS must establish that its actions
Upon issuance, the decision of a Fair Hearing is final
and binding upon social services agencies and must be
complied with. A copy of the decision, accompanied by
written notice to the appellant of the right to judicial
review, is sent to each of the parties and to their
representatives, if any. In addition, such notice will
advise the appellant that the appellant or the appellant's
authorized representative may request the assistance
of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
in obtaining compliance with the decision. If the appellants get "aid continuing" and lose the Fair Hearing, the will have to pay back any Public Assistance and/or Food Stamps they got while they were waiting for the Fair Hearing decision. Also, if they do get "aid continuing" and they lose the Fair Hearing, they may have to pay back any Medical Assistance they got while they were waiting for the Fair Hearing decision.
For all decisions, except those involving Food Stamp
issues only, definitive and final administrative action
must be taken promptly, but in no event more than 60
days from the date of the request for a Fair Hearing.
For all cases involving Food Stamp issues only, the
decision must be issued and the parties notified of
the decision within 90 days of receipt of the request
for the Fair Hearing by the department. Upon receipt
of a complaint that a social services agency has not
complied with the Fair Hearing decision, the Office
of Temporary and Disability Assistance will secure compliance
by whatever means is deemed necessary and appropriate
under the circumstances of the case.