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 http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/cashassistance/index.htm.
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