Frequently Asked Questions about the TANF Program.


Generally speaking, anyone may apply for assistance. Eligible applicants will ordinarily reside in North Dakota. For additional information, please refer to the TANF or JOBS program brochures.

Online: Visit the Apply for Help page

By Mail: Submit a request to have an application mailed to you.

In Person: Print and complete the Application for Assistance (SFN 405) and then return it to the human service zone office in your county. 

Please contact the Customer Support Center. Eligibility experts can help you complete the application and can answer your questions about assistance programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services must follow federal and state laws on privacy. Only those individuals whose jobs require them to view your personal information in order to administer the programs or to process payments have access to your information. Department of Health and Human Services staff and Human Service Zone Office staff are bound by strict confidentiality rules that do not allow unauthorized disclosure of your personal information.

The Department of Human Services provides a wide range of programs and services. You can return to the Financial Help page to review other programs that may assist with your financial needs.

There is no cost to apply, but some economic assistance programs have a cost-sharing element.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides assistance and work opportunities to needy families. For more information, refer to the brochures in the publication section.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is available to any needy child who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of the parents' death, continued absence from the home, incapacity or disability, and who meets other criteria. To qualify, a child must also live in the home of a person who is related to the child by birth, marriage, or adoption.

Citizenship and immigration status affects eligibility. United States citizens are always eligible if they meet other eligibility criteria. Eligibility of non-citizens depends on their Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) classification. Non-citizens who are lawfully residing in the United States meet the technical requirements for immigration status, but their eligibility depends on immigration status and date of entry. Non-citizens admitted on or after August 22, 1996, must live in the United States for five years and must meet program participation guidelines before they are eligible.

The state is prohibited from providing TANF benefits to households that include an adult who has received TANF assistance for a total of 60 months. To determine when a household reaches the 60-month lifetime limit, eligibility staff review the countable months of TANF assistance received by a North Dakota household since July 1, 1997. Information from other state TANF programs or tribal TANF programs is also reviewed and factored into the 60-month limit. In certain situations, a household may receive TANF benefits beyond the 60 months.

The amount of the benefit is based on the number of eligible household members, income available to the household members, allowable work expenses and childcare expenses, and the current level of payment.

Yes. Most individuals who receive a TANF benefit are referred to the Job Opportunity and Basic Skills (JOBS) program and are required to be involved in work activities that will help them transition off of TANF and become more self-sufficient.

The JOBS program is the employment and training component of North Dakota's TANF program. The goal of the program is to help TANF recipients become economically self-sufficient.

Unless determined to be exempt, individuals who receive a TANF cash grant are required to participate in the JOBS program. Exceptions to this requirement include: a caretaker or parent over age 65, a caretaker or parent of a child younger than 2 months of age, and teens who are enrolled in school full-time. For detailed information, view the JOBS program brochure in the publications section.

JOBS participants are required to complete a minimum number of hours each week in one or more of the following approved work activities:

  • Job readiness
  • Job search
  • Paid employment
  • High school/GED or education directly related to employment
  • Job skills directly related to employment
  • On-the-job training
  • Vocational training
  • Unpaid work experience
  • Community service
  • Child care for another participant involved in community service

Involvement in education and training is limited and must be approved by a JOBS program coordinator.

Participants must complete a minimum average of 30 hours per week in one or more approved work activities unless they are responsible for the care of a child who is younger than six years of age. If caring for a child under age six, an individual must complete a minimum average of 20 hours per week in an approved work activity.

The JOBS program offers some supportive services to help participants in their efforts to become self-sufficient. Supportive services include: transportation, childcare, job readiness, relocation, and tuition assistance; money for license, certification and examination fees; tools for employment; and care of incapacitated household members. Some of these supportive services can be provided to former TANF participants for up to six months after their TANF case closes in order to help them succeed in the workforce.

Individuals who fail or refuse to participate in the JOBS program without a good reason, can be sanctioned (penalized). A sanction takes the sanctioned individual's financial needs out of the TANF grant for one month. If the sanctioned individual fails to demonstrate cooperation with JOBS program requirements in the penalty month, the entire case will be closed and the sanctioned individual and her or his household will be ineligible for TANF for one additional month. After reapplying for TANF, no one in the household will be eligible for a TANF benefit until the sanctioned individual cooperates with JOBS program requirements.