Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The TANF Program provides benefits for families with needy children under age 18. The TANF Program is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency through employment and training activities provided by the TANF Work Program (TWP). TANF supportive services such as assistance with child care and transportation expenses are available to help the adults in the family prepare for employment and to promote self-sufficiency.

TANF, commonly known as welfare, is the monthly cash assistance program for poor families with children under age 18. TANF benefits are made for children and their needy caretaker relatives who do not have enough income or resources to meet their everyday needs by state program standards.

The goal of TANF is to end the dependence on public assistance by preparing you for a job by helping you with job readiness training, job skills training, vocational training, other educational training programs and assisting you in finding and keeping a job.

  • Cooperation with Child Support is a requirement of receiving TANF benefits.
  • Cooperation with the TANF Work Program (TWP) is a requirement of receiving TANF unless the adult in the family meets an exemption.
  • Registering with Mississippi Works and completion of the Substance Abuse Screening Inventory are required for TANF application approval.
  • TANF benefits and TANF Work Program Supportive Service payments are issued to a Mississippi Debit MasterCard® Card.  Paper checks are not issued.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is the cash assistance program formerly known as welfare. The TANF program was created in the 1996 welfare reform law. The federal legislation was enacted on August 22, 1996, as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Mississippi implemented its TANF program October 1, 1996.

In order for adults to receive TANF, they must participate in a work program. There are other circumstances where adults who are receiving Supplemental Support Income (SSI) disability or other caretakers of children can receive TANF as a payee and not be included in the cash assistance grant.

To apply for TANF you must submit a TANF application  English, En Español – Spanish, or Tiếng Việt – Vietnamese to the Department of Human Services (DHS) office in the county where you live.  The application is available online or you may request an application by phone, in person, by fax, or by mail from the county DHS office.

Upon receipt of your application, a face-to-face interview or telephonic interview will be scheduled to determine your family’s eligibility.  You will be notified of your appointment date and time and the documents that must be provided for the interview.

When the TANF interview is completed, a worker will conduct an investigation to see whether the family is eligible according to all TANF eligibility factors. A notice will be provided to the parent or caretaker relative within 30 days telling whether the family is approved for TANF benefits, the amount, start date, etc.

Families must meet both financial and non-financial requirements established in state law. In general, families must include a child under age 18 and be residents of Mississippi. Children under age 7 must comply with TANF immunization requirements, and children ages 6 to 17 must attend school and have satisfactory attendance. Children age 18 that are included in the Assistance Unit (AU) because they are in school full-time, must have satisfactory school attendance.

The purpose of the TANF program is to:

  • To provide assistance to needy families with children so that they can live in their own home or the homes of relatives;
  • To end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits through work, job preparation, and marriage;
  • To reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and
  • To promote the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Adults who receive TANF and who do not meet a work exemption are required to participate in work activities such as work experience, job search and/or others.

Mississippi provides assistance for 60 months. The maximum allowed by Federal law. States may extend assistance beyond 60 months to up to 20 percent of their caseload provided for hardship.

A hardship exists when both of the following criteria is a barrier to the family’s attainment of self-sufficiency:

  • The disability of the grantee relative, other eligible adult or a household member is a barrier to employment for the grantee relative or other eligible adults; and
  • The household’s income does not exceed the Basic 100% Requirement for the TANF Program.

The 60-month time limit is reduced to 24 months for TANF recipients who are determined to be work eligible individuals but fail, without good cause, to participate satisfactorily in the TANF Work Program (TWP).

The basic TANF block grant is based on the amount of federal funds that a state received under the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. To qualify for the federal block grants, states are required to “maintain effort” through providing state funds equal to 80 percent of the amount of state funds that were expended under the former AFDC program. This “maintenance-of-effort (MOE)” requirement is reduced to 75% if the state meets federal work participation requirements.

This checklist gives examples of the information that may have to be verified to determine your eligibility for SNAP and/or TANF. Use this checklist to help you gather the items needed for your interview.

  • Identity of person making application and authorized representative, if applicable
  • Divorce decree, marriage license, death certificate for spouse
  • Proof of relationship of children to you (TANF only)
  • Alien Status for any non-U.S. citizen
  • Checking or savings account, or union or bank statement
  • Names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and places of employment of the absent parent(s) of your children
  • Trust funds
  • Medical expenses for anyone age 60 or older or disabled
  • Stocks and/or savings bonds
  • Social Security number for all individuals
  • Proof of where you live
  • Property owned, sold, or transferred
  • Pregnancy
  • Dependent care (child/disabled or aged dependent care)
  • Rent and Utility expenses
  • Income

If you have any current medical documentation to verify a current medical condition, please bring it to your appointment. At the time of your interview, you may be asked to furnish additional information and/or verification, depending on your circumstances.

Failure to keep your initial SNAP or TANF application appointment will cause your SNAP or TANF application to be denied.

You must bring or send verification for each of the items needed to determine your eligibility.

Items to be Verified

Bring or Send One or More of the Following:


  • Driver’s license
  • Work or school ID
  • Work badge
  • Health insurance ID
  • ID for another assistance program
  • Voter registration card
  • Birth certificates
  • Draft cards or military ID
  • Medicare Card
  • United States Passport
  • Proof of where you live
  • Rent or lease receipts from landlord
  • Utility bills
  • Mortgage payment book
  • Tax receipts
  • Documents showing home address

Alien Status

  • INS 1-151 Alien Registration Receipt Card
  • 1-551 Re-entry Permit; 1-94 Arrival-Departure Record

Social Security Numbers

  • Social Security Card for each member
  • An official document containing the Social Security Number
  • Social Security Award Letter


  • Check Stubs
  • Statement from employer
  • Benefit award letter from Social Security
  • SSI
  • Veterans Administration
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Business records for self-employed
  • Lay off or termination notice
  • IRS 1040 Form – for self-employment

Trust Funds

  • Wills
  • Court orders
  • Deeds or other documents by which the trust was established

Medical Expenses

  • Medical bills from hospitals or clinics
  • Printouts from pharmacist
  • Health insurance premium receipt or stub
  • Payment agreement with doctor, and/or hospital


  • Statement from a licensed physician or medical personnel in a public health or outpatient clinic


  • Rent or lease receipt from landlord
  • Utility bills (gas, electric, water etc.)
  • Telephone bill
  • Property tax statement
  • Home owner’s insurance policy
  • Mortgage payment books

Dependent Care

  • Child care or day care receipts or statement from provider

Property Owned

  • Sold or Transferred
  • Deeds
  • Sale or transfer papers

Proof Of Relationship

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Insurance policies
  • Wills

Income, Resource, & Benefit Guidelines

The amount of the TANF payment is based on the family’s income. When the income does not meet the TANF Program Need Standard, the family may be approved for a monthly benefit up to the state maximum for that household size. Monthly payments in Mississippi are limited to no more than:

  • $200 for the first person
  • $36 for the second person
  • $24 for each additional person

Currently, the benefit for a family of three is $260. Benefits are issued through the Mississippi Debt MasterCard® Card which is a prepaid debit MasterCard.  The ePayment card can be used at MasterCard member banks, ATMs and any retailers that accept MasterCard.

The gross monthly income limit for a family of three is currently $680. If a family member works and pays for child care, the actual verified cost of child care can be deducted. Use the table below to find the maximum monthly gross income allowed for your household size.

Number Persons in Assistance Unit (AU)











Maximum Monthly Gross Income (185%)











If more than 10 are in the budget, add $75 to the requirements for each person above 10 and compute 185 percent of that figure, rounding down to the nearest dollar, for the gross income test. This income limit includes requirements for food, clothing, personal incidentals, electricity, water, household supplies, fuel, and shelter.

The maximum amount of cash or cash assets which a TANF assistance unit may retain and be eligible for TANF is $2000.

A request for TANF assistance in Mississippi is a request for help in finding a job!

All adult household members applying for TANF assistance will be required to meet with an MDHS worker, register for employment through Mississippi Works or comply with Vocational Rehabilitation services.  Each adult household member must complete the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory. These requirements must be met before the TANF applications can be approved. However, adults who meet an exemption will not be required to register for employment through Mississippi Works or comply with Vocational Rehabilitation services.

Mississippi Debit MasterCard Program

Always know your balance before you shop!

It is a way of delivering TANF benefits and TANF Work Program supportive service payments to TANF recipients and Child Support payments to custodial parents without issuing paper checks. Card holders can use the debit card at merchant and bank locations worldwide.

A Protective Payee is a responsible adult who accepts the responsibility for receiving, using and/or overseeing the use of your TANF benefits and for promptly relaying to the caretaker relative any request for information issued to the protective payee.

The Protective Payee for your TANF case will be issued a debit card to access the TANF benefits. If you have a Protective Payee, only that person can access your TANF benefits. Benefits used or misused by a Protective Payee will not be replaced. Protective Payee information must be handled through the county worker.

Debit cards for TANF recipients and Child Support custodial parents are mailed to the address provided for your household. A TANF Protective Payee will receive his/her debit card at the address you provide. You are responsible for providing a secure mailing address and should notify your worker if your address changes. TANF benefits or child support payments used from the debit card sent to the address you provide will not be replaced.

Before using your debit card, you must select a secret Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use. You may get cash at an ATM that displays MasterCard® or Cirrus® or a teller in a bank location that displays the MasterCard®. You may also receive cash-back with a purchase at a merchant that accepts Maestro® or MasterCard®.

A PIN is a 4-digit “secret” code to be used with the debit card. Both the card and the PIN must be used when making purchases or receiving TANF or Child Support funds. The PIN is very important and should be memorized or kept in a safe place. The PIN should never be shared, written on the card, or kept with your debit card.

The debit card has a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free Customer Service. The number is 1-855-709-1079. You can call the automated response unit (ARU) to find out how many benefits are left in your account or to inquire about child support payments. You can also report lost, stolen or damaged cards, get your transaction history, pin or re-pin your card or discuss any problems you are having with your debit card.

You are allowed five (5) free calls to Customer Service each month to ask about your balance or to hear your transaction history. After the fifth call each calendar month, each call will cost you $0.50 (50 cents).

Do not call this number to discuss your TANF eligibility or child support case. Call your worker at the county office to discuss questions about your case.

If you are in the store and enter the wrong PIN, you will have three more chances that day to enter the right PIN. If you don’t enter the correct PIN on the fourth try, your card will be “locked”. To “unlock” your card, you may call Customer Service. If you can’t remember your PIN or want to change your PIN because you think someone else knows it, call Customer Service to re-PIN your card. You should always know your PIN before you go to the store.

If your debit card is lost, stolen or damaged, call Customer Service to report it. It will be deactivated and a new card requested. No one will be able to use your card once you report it is missing. A new card will be mailed to you and should arrive in 9-10 days. It is necessary to select a new PIN for your replacement card. A $5.00 card replacement fee will be deducted from your account balance. Your account balance must be at least $5.00 before a replacement card will be issued.

Your debit card may be dirty or damaged. Call Customer Service and explain that your card will not work. If the card is not working properly, a new one will be mailed.

The following fees will be applied to your account:

No fee

Cash-back or Bank Teller Window
No fee

ATM Cash Withdrawal
$1.75 each time

ATM Balance Inquiry
$0.75 each time

Card Replacement

Expedited Card Delivery

ATM Denial for Insufficient Funds
$0.50 after the 3rd request (each call, each calendar month).

Monthly Account Access by:

Calling Customer Service
$0.50 after the fifth call (each call, each calendar month).

ATM Surcharges – Some bank ATMs will apply a fee called a surcharge to use their ATM. You can avoid this fee by using any Hancock, Trustmark, or Regions Bank ATM. Always read the ATM messages carefully. You can cancel if you wish to avoid the fee or press enter and pay the fee.

Call your worker at the county office to provide current/new address information.

Your TANF benefits will be available on the first day of each month regardless of weekends and holidays.

Twenty-four hours after the payment has been received. Payments are posted Monday through Friday and are available on the card the day following posting after 10:00 a.m.

Yes. Debit cards expire every three years. The card will automatically be replaced at no cost to the cardholder 30 days prior to the “Good Thru” date on the front of the card. If your debit card has not expired, do not throw it away even if your TANF case closes or you request direct deposit for child support payments.  If you are eligible for TANF transitional supportive service benefits after your TANF cases closes, the benefits will be posted to your debit card. You can also use the same card if you reapply and the case is approved. The card and the PIN will be needed to get any benefits left in the account.

The TANF benefits stay in your debit card account until you use them. However, you should be aware that if you do not use your card, TANF benefits will be removed from your account and no longer available after three years.

Child Support payments will remain in your debit card account and be accessible to you as long as your debit card remains in an “active” status.  A debit card that has been activated will become “inactive” when the cardholder has not had any card swipe debit transaction activity for five years.

There are three easy ways to check your account balance:

  • Keep your receipts each time you swipe your card. They show your balance.
  • Register and check your balance and transaction history on the website at www.eppicard.com.
  • Call Customer Service.

ATM transactions at liquor stores, gambling establishments, and strip clubs are prohibited by Federal law.

Beginning July 1, 2019 ATM transactions at the following locations are prohibited by State law:

  • Liquor Stores
  • Strip Clubs
  • Tattoo and Body Piercing Parlors
  • Spas
  • Lingerie Shops
  • Vapor Cigarette Stores
  • Bail Bond Companies
  • Movie Theaters
  • Theme Parks
  • Businesses or Retail Establishments where minors under 18 are not permitted
  • Gambling Establishments
  • Jewelry stores
  • Tobacco Paraphernalia Stores
  • Nail Salons
  • Massage Parlors
  • Psychic or Fortune Telling Businesses
  • Dog or Horse Racing Facilities
  • Cruise Ships
  • Video Arcade
  • Sexually Oriented Businesses

In addition, beginning July 1, 2019 State law prohibits purchasing the following items:

  • Alcohol
  • Liquor or imitation Liquor
  • Bail
  • Lottery TIckets
  • Tobacco Products
  • Travel Services Provided by a Travel Agent
  • Professional or Collegiate Sporting Event tickets
  • Cigarettes
  • Sexually Oriented Adult Materials
  • Gambling Activities
  • Tattoos
  • Concert Tickets
  • Money Transmission to Locations Abroad
  • Tickets for Other Entertainment Events Intended for the General Public