Murphy Administration Boosts Payments for Families & Individuals in Need

WorkFirst NJ Cash Assistance Benefits Increasing 20 Percent

Sept. 4, 2019

(TRENTON) – Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced WorkFirst NJ cash assistance benefits are increasing by 20 percent for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and General Assistance recipients. 

Today's announcement builds on the Murphy Administration's ongoing effort to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey and comes on the heels of a 10 percent increase in these programs last fiscal year, which was the first meaningful increase in WorkFirst NJ in nearly 30 years. The increases announced today were included in the state budget for this fiscal year that was signed by Governor Phil Murphy and approved by the Legislature.

"The Murphy Administration is committed to helping families get on the strongest possible financial footing," Commissioner Johnson said. "Providing increased income assistance to our neighbors in need is the right approach. It will help families with additional income at a crucial time and put more money back into the New Jersey economy, which will benefit everyone."

Under this year's increase, a family of three under WorkFirst NJ will see their maximum benefits payment increase to $559 per month from $466, while an individual under General Assistance will see their maximum benefit payment increase to $185 per month from $154.

"These increases are another crucial step forward in the Murphy Administration's efforts to build a fairer New Jersey," said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira. "These increases and the benefits provided to families and individuals in these programs are critical in protecting the most vulnerable New Jerseyans."

WorkFirst NJ provides temporary cash assistance and support services to families through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

General Assistance provides temporary cash assistance and support services to individuals and couples in need with no dependent children.

These support services include emergency housing assistance; temporary utility, rental or mortgage assistance; job training; mental health and addictions support; and counseling.

The TANF increase took effect August 1, and the General Assistance increase took effect September 1.  Both will be retroactive to July 1.

Last year, the Governor and Legislature also worked together to remove the punitive WorkFirst NJ family cap that unfairly limited family benefits regardless of family size.

Residents can apply for WorkFirst NJ benefits at their county Board of Social Services or by visiting

"We, along with our partners at the local County Boards of Social Services, want to ensure that New Jersey residents have access to these safety net services," said Human Services Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who leads the Department's Division of Family Development. "We encourage residents to see if they're eligible, apply and learn about additional resources.”

"Thanks to the leadership of Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, Senator Vitale and the Department of Human Services, New Jersey is taking major strides in providing families and children facing deep poverty with critical basic assistance and work supports," said Ray Castro, Director of Health Policy at New Jersey Policy Perspective. "After more than thirty years of neglect - with not even one cost of living increase - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants have increased by 30 percent in the last two years alone, representing the largest increase in the nation during that time. This is not only the right thing to do for families living in poverty, but it is one of the best investments the New Jersey can make as these funds are spent immediately and locally in communities across the state."

"The Anti-Poverty Network is grateful for the recognition of Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin and the New Jersey Department of Human Services that our stagnant Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefit level was sorely inadequate for families to climb out of poverty,” said Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “After the first benefit increase in 30 years last year, an additional 20 percent increase for families this year is a much needed boost so that more children in poverty will receive assistance and their parents can access work activities and supports needed to thrive in our state become independent."