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Cash Assistance

The State and Federal governments provide cash assistance to certain individuals based upon financial need combined with other criteria such as difficulty finding employment due to a verified medical problem or caring for a minor child. The State funded program is called General Assistance, while the State and Federal government together fund the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF program.

TANF is only available to parents or legally responsible relatives who have minor children living with them. In addition, eligibility for TANF can only be established where there is no other income, or very low income, in the household applying for benefits. Applicants for TANF are also limited in the value of property they can own and still be eligible for benefits. To encourage employment TANF rules require most recipients to work, enroll in a job search to look for work, or be enrolled in a training program or school. In addition, most TANF recipients can only get benefits for a maximum of 5 years. Persons who lose eligibility for TANF due to employment income are entitled to continue to receive child care expenses, food stamps and medical assistance benefits for a period of time after eligibility for TANF ends.

Persons not eligible for TANF may be eligible for General Assistance. Like TANF, only certain persons who have very low income and property resource qualify for General Assistance. Individuals who have a medical condition which prevents them from working is one category of persons eligible for General Assistance. There are, however, several other circumstances under which a very low income individual may receive General Assistance. Check with the Erie County Assistance Office for more details. You can apply for Cash Assistance in person or online at  3/11

If you need to consult with an attorney, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.