TANF Benefits Shrink by 30%

CBPP Releases Paper on TANF Benefits
Down 30% in NJ Since 1996

TANFThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has released a paper on the shrinking benefits provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Included in the paper’s findings, in New Jersey, for a family of three:

  • In July 2011, the TANF benefit level was $424, a 30% decrease from 1996;
  • The maximum TANF benefits as a percentage of the federal poverty level was 39% in 1996 and decreased to 28% in 2011;
  • The maximum TANF benefits as a percentage of Fair Market Rent was 48% in 2010 and decreased to 33% in 2011; and
  • In 2011, the combined TANF and SNAP (food stamps) benefit levels as a percentage of the federal poverty level was 62%.

The paper found that TANF purchasing power fell again in 2011 and is now at least 20% below its 1996 levels in 34 states, after adjusting for inflation.

On top of this, large numbers of families that qualify for TANF benefits are not receiving them. In 2009, for every 100 families in poverty who qualified for benefits, only 27 received any cash assistance through TANF. The paper also found that there is not a single state in the nation in which the TANF benefit level for a family of three with no other income is at least equal to the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment. In a majority of states, TANF benefits amount to less than half of the Fair Market Rent.

Click here to read the full report.