Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The following section talks about the “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) a program that helps New Mexico families who are struggling financially.

What is TANF?

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a federal program that provides financial assistance for families in need. In New Mexico, the name of this program is NM Works.

Can I receive TANF benefits?

To receive TANF, you must:

  • Be a New Mexico resident
  • Be U.S. citizen or qualified alien (for example, a permanent resident or a refugee)
  • You must work for at least 30 hours per week.
  • The total income of your household must be below 85% of the federal poverty line.
  • If you are applying for benefits for a child, you must have custody or live with the dependent child for whom you are applying.

Who is a “dependent child”?

To be considered a “dependent child”, a child must be in one of the following categories:
The child is 17 years old or younger
The child is 18 years old and is enrolled full time in school
The child is between 18 and 22 years old and is receiving special education services

What is a benefit group?

A “benefit group” is the group of persons that can benefit from TANF. The “benefit group” is also used when it comes to determine if you are financially eligible for TANF benefits. The salaries made by the members of the benefit group, the house they own, the equipment they own for work, etc. will all be taken into consideration when you apply to get TANF benefits.

A “benefit group” can include:
A pregnant woman
A dependent child, all of his siblings (biological, half-sibling, adopted sibling or step siblings) that live with him in the same house as his guardian and the parents of this dependent child.

I am the grandparent of a child who lives apart from his parents, can I apply to receive TANF benefits?

Yes. You may apply for yourself and the child and your income will be considered. Or you can apply for “child only TANF” where your income won’t be taken into consideration.

If I am a grandparent do I still have to work to be eligible for the TANF benefits?

If you are included in the benefit group you are subject to the work requirements unless you are over 60 years-old you do not have to meet the work requirements to be eligible for TANF benefits.

I am under 18, can I apply for TANF benefits in my own name?

Normally, if you are under 18 years old, your parents will receive TANF benefits on your behalf even if you are yourself a parent.

However, you can receive TANF benefits in your own name if you satisfy the following requirements:
You are under 18
You are the parent of a child and you are the main person responsible for this child
You are not married
You finished high school or you are currently enrolled in a full-time program to finish high school or another training program that is approved by the Human Services Department
You live at home with your parents or guardian. There are certain circumstances where you do not have to live with your parents or guardian, for example, if you were the victim of abuse or if you do not have a parent or a guardian
Your parents are not already receiving TANF benefits for you
You will need to meet the income limits and have someone over the age of 18 to act as your “payee” and receive the benefits for you

If you meet all the above requirements, you can get TANF in your own name and your parents’ income will not be counted.

For more information on whether or not you are eligible, contact your local Income Support Division (ISD) office.

I am an emancipated minor; can I ask for TANF benefits in my own name?

Yes. If you meet the income limits, you may receive TANF benefits in your own name.

How long may I receive TANF benefits?

You can receive TANF benefits for only a total of 60 months (five years).
There are exceptions to the limit of 60 months. Those exceptions can apply to you if you were subjected to hardship or “extreme cruelty” or if you have been battered. This is the case if, for example, you are or have been the victim of physical or sexual abuse or if you can’t work because you are disabled.
The 60 months limit also does not apply to you if you were a minor AND were not the head of your household or married to the head of your household when your family started receiving TANF benefits.
However, if you were a minor and you were receiving TANF benefits on your own behalf this will count toward the 60 months limit.

What if I only received TANF for part of a month? Does this count in the 60 month limitation?

Yes. If you receive any TANF benefits at all in a month, this counts as a full month for the 60 months limit, even if you only received benefits for parts of the month.

Where can I apply for TANF benefits?

In order to apply for TANF, you will need to go to your local Income Support Division (ISD) office. You can find a list of offices here: For more information go to: or call the Human Services Department at 1-800-432-6217

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