The state's welfare reform program, WorkFirst NJ, emphasizes work as the first step toward building a sustainable and stable future. The goal of the program is to help people get off welfare, secure employment and become self-sufficient, through job training, education and work activities.
WFNJ provides temporary cash assistance and many other support services to families through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Cash benefits and support services to individuals and couples with no dependent children are available as well through a General Assistance (GA) program. Services under WFNJ are limited to five years.
Under the supervision of the NJ Division of Family Development (DFD), the 21 county welfare agencies (County Board of Social Services) administer the TANF and GA programs.
To be eligible for TANF/GA you must:
- Meet income eligibility requirements which are based upon the number of people in your household and you're earned and unearned household income.
- Meet WFNJ asset requirements. This usually means that you cannot have more than $2,000 in assets. Some assets are not included such as some vehicles, personal items, life insurance, the home in which you live.
- Provide identification for all household members including a Social Security number for each.
- Be a U.S. citizen or qualify as an eligible alien.
Emergency Assistance (EA)
WFNJ clients may receive emergency assistance in certain situations. Benefits under this program include, but are not limited to: essential food, clothing, shelter and household furnishings; temporary rental assistance or back rent or mortgage payments; utility payments (such as heat, water, electric); transportation to search for housing; and moving expenses.
Eligible persons include those who are homeless or at immediate risk of becoming homeless, and those who have experienced a substantial loss of housing, food, clothing or household furnishings due to fire, flood or similar disaster. EA is limited to 12 months, though extensions may be granted under certain hardship circumstances. Contact your County Board of Social Services to apply for EA.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The state also provides financial assistance and services to people who cannot work, due to a disability or other reason. People who are disabled may qualify for the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This program is also managed by the County Board of Social Services.
Once applications have been received for WFNJ programs you will participate in a personal interview. Should you have questions before that time, you are advised to call ahead and make an appointment to meet with a caseworker. Caseworkers have been trained to assist you and are most familiar with all eligibility and program requirements.
Legal Services/SSI Initiative
WFNJ recipients who may be eligible for federal SSI benefits can now get free legal help. The Division of Family Development has established an agreement with Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) to assist these recipients in either filing for SSI benefits or appealing a denial of benefits.
The project primarily targets WFNJ recipients who currently receive a medical deferral from work requirements for at least 12 months or those who are participating in the Emergency Assistance Pilot for the Long-Term Chronically Impaired. Recipients may call the LSNJ toll-free number 888.LSNJ.LAW (888.576.5529) for assistance.
Family Success Centers
Family Success Centers may offer services that could help you during these difficult times. Centers are community-based, neighborhood gathering places where any community resident can go for family support, information and services. Centers are designed to enrich the lives of children by strengthening families and neighborhoods; provide integrated, locally-based services; reduce isolation and promote connections among family and community, and provide services in a warm and welcoming environment. Services are provided at no charge.