TANF-ACF-PI-2021-02 (The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund)

Publication Date: April 9, 2021


State, tribal, and territorial agencies administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, and other eligible territories.


The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund.


The American Rescue Plan Act, Public Law 117-2; section 403(c) of the Social Security Act.


To provide initial guidance regarding the newly established Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund.


On March 11, 2021, the President signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law.  Now Public Law 117-2, it establishes the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund (PEAF) in section 403(c) of the Social Security Act (the Act). 

The PEAF provides funding to states (which includes the District of Columbia), tribes administering a TANF program, and five U.S. territories[1] to assist needy families impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.  Grantees may use funds to provide certain non-recurrent, short term (NRST) benefits, described in more detail below.  Additionally, they may use funds for administrative costs (up to a 15-percent cap for states and territories and up to the negotiated cap for tribes).  All grantees must use funds to supplement, and not supplant, other federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local funds.

We will issue supplemental information specific to tribes that integrate TANF under Public Law 102-477 into a single plan.


For more than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a national emergency affecting not only public health, but also the American economy.  Many states, tribes, and territories have had to implement emergency measures to assist low income families in this difficult time.  The PEAF represents a singular opportunity to help some of our nation’s neediest families struggling with the effects of the pandemic.  The PEAF can be a powerful tool to give poor families a much-needed boost in the face of lost wages, limited work opportunities, or housing insecurity, to name just a few obstacles exacerbated by the pandemic.  This is especially true if grantees also make use of the unobligated TANF balances that many have accumulated for just such a crisis.  We encourage grantees to use this opportunity to assist needy families affected by the pandemic in meeting their basic needs.


The law specifies an allotment formula.  After deducting $2 million for federal administration:

  • 92.5 percent of funds (equal to $923,150,000) will be distributed to states (including the District of Columbia), using a two-part formula, half based on child population and half based on fiscal year 2019 state expenditures on non-recurrent short term benefits, basic assistance and emergency assistance authorized solely under prior law. 
  • 7.5 percent of funds are set aside for Tribal TANF programs and all 5 U.S. territories, to be distributed in a manner deemed appropriate by the HHS Secretary.

Requesting Funds

A grantee must make a one-time election of the amount of its allotment it wishes to receive.  Under the law, states must inform HHS of its expenditure commitment within 45 days of the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and tribes and territories within 90 days of enactment.  Those dates are April 25, 2021, for states and June 9, 2021 for tribes and territories.  We have created a form that allows each grantee to make this election.  If a grantee does not submit a request for an allotment or submits one after the due date, the grantee will lose any claim to the allotment. 

We have published tables showing the full allotment of each grantee and will include them as an appendix to this program instruction as well.  While each grantee must decide whether or not it intends to use its full allotment, it is important to understand that if a grantee elects to receive an amount less than the full allotment, it will lose its claim to the remainder of that allotment.  Any such unallotted funds will be reallotted, as discussed below.  For example, suppose a grantee’s full allotment were $2,876,380.  If the grantee elected to accept $2,000,000 of that allotment, the remaining $876,380 would no longer be set aside for that grantee and would be reallotted to all grantees eligible for reallotment.


The law requires HHS to reallot unused funds among eligible grantees, discussed below.  This means that we will reallot:  (1) funds not initially awarded to a grantee because it chose to receive less than its full allotment; and (2) funds from the initial award that are unexpended (including unliquidated obligations) at the end of the statutory expenditure period, i.e., September 30, 2022.  We anticipate having only one reallotment of those two sources of funds, but we will make a decision on whether to have more than one after we see how much of the allotment grantees request initially.  We will distribute reallotted funds based on the original allotment formula.  Under the law, a grantee must expend reallotted funds within 12 months of receipt of the reallotted funds.

All grantees are eligible for reallotted funds, unless they have unexpended funds at the end of the expenditure period.  If after September 30, 2022, a grantee has unspent funds from its initial award — i.e., any unobligated funds or any unliquidated obligations — the grantee will not be eligible to receive reallotted funds. 

Expenditure Period

A grantee has from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022, the end of fiscal year 2022, to expend its initial award.  As noted above, if a grantee has not expended all of its funds by that date, HHS will reallot any unused funds to other eligible states, territories, and tribes, which must expend the reallotted funds within 12 months of receipt, as specified in the legislation.

Regardless of when it receives its PEAF funds, a grantee may use the funds for allowable expenditures on or after April 1, 2021.  For example, if a grantee received its funds on May 15, 2021, it could use the PEAF funds to reimburse itself for allowable expenditures it made starting on April 1, 2021.

Use of Funds — Administrative Costs

Grantees may use funds for administrative costs, within limitations.  For states (including the District of Columbia) and territories, the law provides a 15-percent cap on administrative expenditures.  For tribes, the same cap will apply to administrative costs in the PEAF that a tribe negotiated for administrative costs in its approved tribal TANF plan (or approved 477 plan for federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia that integrate TANF under P.L. 102-477).

Use of Funds — Non-Recurrent, Short Term Benefits

For the purposes of the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund, NRST benefits mean cash payments or other benefits that meet the regulatory definition (45 CFR 260.31(b)(1)), but are limited to those that fall into the specific expenditure reporting category mentioned in the legislation (line 15 of the ACF-196R (PDF), the state financial reporting form for the TANF program).  In other words, for this fund, NRST benefits, like all NRSTs under TANF, must:

  • be designed to deal with a specific crisis situation or episode of need;
  • not be intended to meet on-going needs; and
  • not extend beyond four months;

and (as explained in the instructions for reporting on line 15 of the ACF-196R) NRSTs paid for with PEAF funds:

  • must only include expenditures such as emergency assistance and diversion payments, emergency housing and short-term homelessness assistance, emergency food aid, short-term utilities payments, burial assistance, clothing allowances, and back-to-school payments; and 
  • may not include tax credits, child care, transportation, or short-term education and training.

Like TANF, any PEAF-funded benefit must meet a purpose of Title IV-A of the Social Security Act.  Given that the fund was created specifically to help address needs arising out of the pandemic, we have determined that NRST benefits that meet Purpose One (provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives) are in line with the PEAF and we do not think benefits meeting the other purposes are.  If a grantee wishes to use PEAF funds for a benefit that meets a different purpose, it must be able to demonstrate how the benefit is designed to address pandemic-related needs.

In most cases under TANF, a NRST benefit addresses a “specific episode of need,” which means that the state or tribe has determined the specific need of that family; however, the regulation allows for NRSTs to address a “specific crisis situation.”  As is evidenced by Congress creating the PEAF, the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its sweeping economic impacts constitute a “specific crisis situation” allowing a grantee to offer a NRST benefit broadly to needy families who are financially and otherwise eligible.  We hope that making this determination now will enable grantees to act expeditiously in distributing PEAF benefits and be responsive to the current crisis.  If a grantee does choose to offer a benefit without determining an individual episode of need, it would need to be clear that the NRST expenditure was related to the pandemic.  Indeed, as we noted above, all PEAF-funded benefits must be designed to address needs arising from the pandemic.  For example, a grantee might consider crafting a NRST to provide extra cash for all current TANF recipient families who are affected by the pandemic.  This benefit clearly meets Purpose One and is pandemic-related.

Here are some other examples of NRST benefits that grantees might want to provide with PEAF funds.  The NRST benefits a grantee funds with PEAF need not be the same as the ones funded by TANF.

  • A one-time payment to provide extra cash to all current TANF recipient families to assist them in dealing with added costs caused by the pandemic.
  • A one-time payment to provide extra cash to weather the pandemic to current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient families with children affected by the pandemic.
  • A benefit to provide extra cash to replace lost wages to all families with children eligible to receive SNAP or other means-tested benefits who are affected by the pandemic.
  • Assistance for families who are behind in rent or experiencing other housing insecurity due to the pandemic.
  • Cash assistance for short-term basic needs to help families with mixed immigration status (e.g., citizen children with parents who are not eligible due to their immigration status) who are affected by the pandemic.
  • A benefit to cover burial expenses for needy families who have had a family member die from COVID-19.
  • A payment for hotel rooms and meal delivery for people who need to quarantine away from their families.
  • A benefit to secure personal protective equipment. 
  • A voucher to cover the cost of utility bills in arrears due to financial issues arising from the pandemic.

Eligible Recipients of NRSTs

The recipients of PEAF-funded NRSTs must be needy families with children but they do not necessarily have to be eligible for TANF cash assistance.  A grantee has the flexibility to determine what needy means for each NRST and may wish to set a higher standard than it does for TANF cash assistance, such as aligning with SNAP or Medicaid income eligibility criteria.

We remind grantees that the Income Eligibility Verification System (IEVS) does apply to the PEAF, as it is funded under Title IV-A; however tribes are not subject to the IEVS requirements.


Grantees must use funds to supplement, and not supplant, other federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local funds.  For example, suppose a grantee wants to offer diversion payments to families affected by the pandemic, but it already offers diversion assistance under TANF.  It could use the PEAF funds for diversion, as long as it adds to its program and does not replace existing funding with the PEAF dollars. 

Expenditure Data

We are revising financial reporting forms, the ACF-196R, ACF-196T, and ACF-196TR, to include a column for reporting PEAF expenditures so that grantees will not have to submit a separate form to report for this fund.  In addition, we will use the information grantees report on these forms to determine the amount of funds remaining for reallotment. 

TANF Plan Amendments

A grantee will not need to amend its TANF plan to provide NRSTs with the PEAF.  This means that a grantee could offer the same or different NRSTs from the ones it offers under TANF, as long as they meet the requirements of the PEAF, including adhering to the requirement not to supplant current federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local expenditures.

Spending Cap for Territories

The law exempts PEAF funds from the spending cap in section 1108 of the Social Security Act. 


Please direct inquiries to the TANF Program Manager in your region.



Susan J. Golonka
Acting Director
Office of Family Assistance

[1]   The eligible territories are:  the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund Allotment - States

State Allotment
Alabama $10,181,762
Alaska $3,363,523
Arizona $14,546,479
Arkansas $4,714,762
California $203,818,559
Colorado $13,502,982
Connecticut $7,096,959
Delaware $2,075,691
District of Columbia $14,740,312
Florida $35,508,000
Georgia $22,014,387
Hawaii $4,216,684
Idaho $3,422,707
Illinois $20,439,923
Indiana $10,709,351
Iowa $6,333,899
Kansas $5,142,203
Kentucky $17,411,149
Louisiana $7,905,732
Maine $3,850,659
Maryland $17,756,381
Massachusetts $27,853,223
Michigan $19,001,764
Minnesota $14,352,019
Mississippi $4,750,783
Missouri $14,530,873
Montana $2,733,901
Nebraska $4,438,712
Nevada $6,794,491
New Hampshire $4,145,240
New Jersey $17,254,346
New Mexico $6,385,240
New York $128,476,323
North Carolina $16,782,875
North Dakota $1,354,594
Ohio $33,945,583
Oklahoma $7,124,347
Oregon $12,225,605
Pennsylvania $26,444,265
Rhode Island $2,703,237
South Carolina $10,153,432
South Dakota $2,285,616
Tennessee $12,994,779
Texas $49,518,884
Utah $7,334,784
Vermont $1,617,028
Virginia $15,744,856
Washington $22,766,008
West Virginia $4,617,546
Wisconsin $14,522,972
Wyoming $1,544,571
Total Allotted to States $923,150,000

Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund Allotment - Tribes and Territories

Tribe Allotment State
Association of Village Council Presidents $1,402,249 AK
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa $75,494 WI
Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Res $799,266 MT
Bristol Bay Native Association $314,666 AK
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska $612,328 AK
Cherokee Nation $1,547,699 OK
Chippewa-Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's Reservation $325,586 MT
Coeur D'Alene Tribe of the Coeur D'Alene Reservation $41,833 ID
Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of Flathead Res $553,548 MT
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation  $878,718 WA
Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation $171,147 OR
Cook Inlet Tribal Council $1,573,026 AK
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina $208,127 NC
Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation $424,349 WY
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria  $425,429 CA
Forest County Potawatomi Community $29,953 WI
Fort Belknap Community Council $260,359 MT
Hoopa Valley Tribe $313,579 CA
Hopi Tribe $186,283 AZ
Karuk Tribe of California $313,470 CA
Klamath Tribes of Oregon $120,093 OR
Kodiak Area Native Association $107,533 AK
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa $165,100 WI
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa $157,825 WI
Lower Elwha Tribe of the Lower Elwha Reservation $129,686 WA
Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation $391,747 WA
Maniilaq Association $273,307 AK
Menominee Indian Tribe $327,985 WI
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe $1,177,193 MN
Morongo Band of Mission Indians $1,450,597 CA
Muscogee (Creek) Nation $805,693 OK
Navajo Nation (AZ, NM, UT) $8,064,017 AZ, NM, UT
Nez Perce Tribe $130,630 ID
Nooksack Indian Tribe $236,387 WA
North Fork Rancheria $556,495 CA
Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Indian Res $424,349 WY
Omaha Tribe of Nebraska in NE and IA $176,334 IA, NE
Oneida Tribe  $216,235 WI
Osage Nation of Oklahoma  $108,471 OK
Owens Valley Career Development Center  $3,952,012 CA
Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona  $447,503 AZ
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians  $234,606 CA
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe $133,628 WA
Prairie Band Potowatomi Nation  $30,263 KS
Pueblo of Zuni $207,301 NM
Quileute Indian Tribe   $193,869 WA
Quinault Indian Tribe $438,493 WA
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians $80,766 WI
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians $771,017 MN
Robinson Rancheria - California Tribal TANF Partnership $1,999,479 CA
Round Valley Indian Tribes $296,081 CA
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community $174,613 AZ
San Carlos Apache Tribe $510,361 AZ
Santee Sioux Nation  $37,375 NE
Santo Domingo Tribe  $62,629 NM
Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians $573,296 CA
Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians $1,290,333 CA
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall Res $222,147 ID
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Res $158,794 SD
Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians  $445,975 CA
Sokaogon Chippewa Community of the Mole Lake Band $19,969 WI
South Puget Inter-Tribal Planning Agency (SPIPA) $1,351,324 WA
Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association $2,563,928 CA
Spokane Tribe of Indians $2,173,726 WA
Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Mohican Indians $37,022 WI
Tanana Chiefs Conference $632,201 AK
Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation CA & OR  (aka Smith River) $144,908 CA, OR
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians $4,891,645 CA
Tulalip Tribes of the Tulalip Reservation $253,256 WA
Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians  $457,071 CA
Upper Skagit Indian Tribe $29,949 WA
Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California $2,437,054 CA, NV
White Mountain Apache Tribe of Fort Apache Res $495,282 AZ
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (in NE and IA) -- NE $237,091 NE, IA
Yurok Tribe $329,365 CA


Territory Allotment
Puerto Rico $18,450,515
Guam $893,483
Virgin Islands $733,912
American Samoa $494,816
Northern Marianna Islands. $486,157


Total Allotted to Tribes and Territories $24,362,320



Current as of: