Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

TANF Eligibility Determinations

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federally funded public assistance program providing cash assistance, job training and other services to adults with dependent children. To be eligible to receive TANF benefits, individuals must meet certain requirements. In New York State, TANF eligibility determinations are made by 58 local social services districts (57 counties and New York City) and are overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

We examined the eligibility determination process in New York State and found that certain improvements were needed. For example, according to federal requirements, to adequately verify the income reported by TANF applicants, states must review certain information. We found that the local districts review some, but not all, of the required information. States are also required to verify applicants’ alien status against federal immigration records. However, in most of the cases that we reviewed at four local districts, the recipients’ alien status had not been verified by the districts. The local districts are also required by State law to assess the reliability of eligibility information provided by TANF applicants to determine whether there are indications that the information may not be accurate. If there are such indications, the case is to be referred to investigative staff at the district for more intensive review. However, we found that local districts do not always refer such cases for investigation. We recommend OTDA strengthen its oversight of certain aspects of the eligibility determination process and take certain other actions to bring New York State into full compliance with federal eligibility requirements.

For a complete copy of Report 2003-S-8 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.