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Frequently Asked Questions

What is TANF?

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), formerly known as Family Independence, is South Carolina’s welfare program. TANF benefits provide temporary financial assistance to needy families with dependent children.

How do I apply for TANF?

You may apply for TANF benefits online, in person, or by mail or fax.
To apply online, please visit the DSS Benefits Portal.

To apply in person visit your local county office.

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To apply by mail or fax, please submit your completed application to your county office 


Are TANF benefits time limited?

In SC, most TANF benefits are limited to 24 months in a 10 year time period. The federal time limit on TANF benefits is limited to 60 months. The time limit may be extended due to hardship reasons, if specific criteria is met.

Do I have to provide child support information for the absent parent(s) in order to receive TANF benefits?

DSS is required to take action to enforce collection of child support and established spousal support monies from the absent parent(s) whose child(ren) is receiving TANF benefits. Failure to cooperate with the child support requirements may result in program ineligibility. Contact your assigned Case Manager for more information.

I need childcare assistance and I receive TANF?

You may be eligible to receive childcare assistance, known as the SC Voucher Program, while participating in an approved work activity. Contact your assigned Case Manager for more information.

What types of Support Services are available to me as a TANF recipient?

You may be eligible to receive support services, such as childcare, transportation and work related expenses, while participating in an approved work activity. For more information contact your Case Manager.

What can I buy with TANF benefits?

The use of TANF cash benefits cannot be limited or restricted by policy. Recipients of TANF benefits have the right to make decisions for their families. However, if DSS determines that benefits are not used in the best interest of the child(ren) then a protective payee may be considered.

What cannot be purchased with SC ePay Card?

The SC ePay card cannot be used at any liquor store; any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or any business that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state. Using your card at these locations are subject to SC penalties. This includes automated teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale (POS) purchase transactions.

How can I check the status of my TANF application?

Your application will be processed by DSS within 30 days of the date you filed your application. You may check the status of your TANF application by calling 1-800-616-1309. If you have received TANF benefits in SC, be sure to have your case number available. Your case number can be found on the top right hand corner of every notice.

Do I have to look for a job to receive TANF benefits?

All applicants who are considered to be work-eligible are required to complete an initial job search and to meet the TANF Work Requirements while receiving TANF benefits. Contact your Case Manager for more information about who is considered to be work eligible and the TANF Work Requirements.

How can I obtain contact information for my TANF Case Manager?

Call DSS Connect at 1-800-616-1309 to obtain your Case Manager’s contact information. Be sure to have your case number available. Your case number can be found on the top right hand corner of every notice.

How do I know if I may be eligible to receive benefits?

If you would like to see whether or not you are potentially eligible for TANF benefits, please access "Am I Eligible?" on the DSS Benefits Portal.

Who can receive these services?

  • You must be a citizen of the United States (U.S.) or meet certain alien status requirements (qualified aliens - Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Refugees and Asylees). U.S. citizens include the following people:
    • A person born in the U.S;
    • A naturalized citizen;
    • A person born outside of the U.S. but whose parents (both mother and father) are U.S. citizens;
    • A person born outside of the U.S. who is over 18 years of age, but who has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen;
    • A child born outside of the U.S. who is under 18 years of age and has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen. The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence;
    • and
    • A person lawfully adopted by U.S. citizens.
  • Low income South Carolina families with a dependent child, to whom they are related, living in the household.
  • Individuals that agree to pursue child support from parent(s) absent from the home.

What are the Work and Training Requirements?

Work requirements are designed to assist TANF recipients to become employed and achieve self-sufficiency. Employment services offered by DSS that assist recipients with the work and training requirements include thorough assessments, evaluations, screenings to identify barriers, job readiness classes, work experience or community service placements, on-the-job training, and child care and transportation assistance.

Will benefits increase when another child is born?

No. Any child born 10 months or more after you applied for TANF is not eligible for TANF benefits, unless the child qualifies for an exception (such as: if the child was born because of forced sex, sexual assault, or incest). To determine if a child is subject to a family cap, the child’s month of birth should be counted as month 10, and count backwards to month zero. If the family received benefits in month zero, that child is not eligible for a cash benefit.

How can I register to vote?

You can register to vote by visiting or by visiting any local DSS county office for assistance.

Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.