TANF / NM Works

Updates

  • Center Files Lawsuit in Federal Court on Behalf of New Mexicans Experiencing Roadblocks to Access to Benefits. Read the filing here.

New Mexico Has Cut TANF Cash Assistance and Work Supports and More Cuts are Expected

Effective November 1, 2010 New Mexico cut certain supports making it possible for parents to work and participate in education and training. Removing these supports undermines the goal of long term self-sufficiency.

TANF cash assistance benefits were cut 15% effective January 1, 2011. After a 15% cut, a family of three with no other source of income will be provided only $4,560 to meet their needs for a year.

The clothing allowance for school age children was cut in half – reducing it to a once a year issuance.

The state has proposed additional cuts which will go into effect soon if additional funds are not dedicated to this critical program. The Transition / Employment Bonus Program will be suspended. This program is designed to make work pay for low-income families giving them a realistic hope of moving out of poverty. The program provides for a limited and fixed monthly cash assistance benefit to encourage families to leave the TANF Cash Assistance Program and gain self-sufficiency.

Income Calculation Method Changed
Starting on April 1, 2010, the way earned income is calculated will change. The change will expand eligibility and increase benefit amounts for working families.

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About TANF

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known in New Mexico as New Mexico Works (NM Works), provides time-limited cash assistance to low-income families who qualify.  TANF is a flawed but essential part of the safety net for very low-income families.  While cash benefits are meager – a maximum of $447 per month for a family of 3 – TANF provides much needed assistance.  TANF serves only extremely poor New Mexicans – working families generally must to have income at or below 69% of the poverty level and families with unearned income generally must have income at or below 33% of the poverty level.  TANF can also provide access to paths out of poverty through services such as job training and work supports such as child care.

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How to Apply for TANF

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Know Your Rights

Following a few tips can help ensure that your application is processed correctly and efficiently:

  • Find all of the documents you need for the application, make copies of them, and submit them at one time to avoid repeated trips to the ISD office.
  • Always ask for a receipt! The ISD office must provide you with a receipt that lists the documents that you turned in for the application. This is a very helpful tool for ensuring that your application is not improperly denied.
  • Keep copies of every document submitted, and every letter or notice from ISD about the case, including envelopes that show when the document was mailed.
  • Remember – if you have difficulty completing the application process because your primary language is not English, HSD must provide translation and interpretation services to you at no cost.

For more information about your rights, we encourage you to read our brochures:

If you, or a family member or client encounter problems when applying for SNAP that cannot be resolved with the Human Services Department, please contact the Center on Law and Poverty for assistance. However, please note that the Center provides legal assistance in limited circumstances, and may instead provide a referral to another agency.

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Our Advocacy on TANF

The Center works closely with state government, legislators, poverty advocates, and community organizations to protect and improve the TANF/NM Works program through both legislative and administrative channels. Our advocacy includes:

  • Ensuring New Mexico takes full advantage of federal funds available through the TANF Emergency Fund.
  • Advocating for an extension and expansion of the TANF Emergency Fund to ensure New Mexico has sufficient resources to provide assistance to the growing number of families facing unemployment in this difficult job market.
  • Advocating to ensure federal TANF funds received by New Mexico are used to provide core TANF services to New Mexico’s most vulnerable families.
  • Advocating for change in TANF program so that caregivers are not penalized for becoming legal guardians of needy children.
  • Encouraging the Human Services Department to fully utilize a policy which would prevent families with hardships from being unnecessarily cut off of TANF assistance due to the time limit.  While New Mexico could be providing benefits beyond the 60 month time limit to 20% of the caseload, in May 2009, only 1.3% of the TANF caseload was comprised of families receiving benefits beyond 60 months.
  • Encouraging the Human Services Department to implement an Emergency Assistance Program to provide one-time assistance to families facing short-term crisis during the recession.  Emergency Assistance could be designed to prevent families from falling into homelessness and to support self-sufficiency through the following work supports:
    • Payments for up to four months of back rent to prevent eviction and homelessness;
    • Payments for utility arrearages;
    • Assistance with the first month of rent and security deposit to move families out of homelessness;
    • Payment to prevent job loss such as cost to repair a car or purchase uniforms.
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Resources

Factsheets
Brochures
Media
Links
Additional Information/Resources:
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