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Assistance Programs

Cash Assistance

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

The State and Federal governments provide cash assistance to certain individuals based upon financial need combined with other criteria including; caring for a minor child, having a temporary loss of income, being a refugee or serious vision impairment. A description of the cash assistance programs available can be found at 

The primary cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), is only available to parents or legally responsible relatives who have minor children living with them. In addition, eligibility for TANF is only established where there is no other income, or very low income, in the household applying for benefits. Applicants for TANF are limited in the value of the 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 might be, depending on their circumstances, entitled to continue to receive help with child care expenses, food stamps, and medical insurance benefits.

Other cash assistance programs include the Diversion Program, which provides a one-time cash payment to persons who are temporarily without a source of income but expect to begin receiving income in the near future. Refugees may get up to eight months of cash assistance payments if they are not eligible for TANF. Pennsylvania also runs a "State Blind Pension" program, although most people disabled due to vision problems are eligible for SSI or Social Security disability, which has higher monthly payment than the Pennsylvania state program. You can apply for any of the cash assistance programs in person at the Erie County Assistance Office 1316 Holland Street 814-461-2000 or online at