How to apply for welfare

Get information on government programs that may help you pay for food, housing, health care, and other basic living expenses. Find out about eligibility requirements for programs like food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid, and how to apply for them.

On This Page

  • Benefits and Financial Assistance from the Government
  • How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
  • Food Stamps (SNAP Food Benefits)
  • Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Benefits and Financial Assistance from the Government

If you're looking for immediate or emergency help, your state's human service or social service agency might be able to help. They can either provide financial assistance or refer you to local community organizations.

Search for Financial Assistance from the Government is a free website that can help you determine which types of government assistance you might qualify for. You can also find out how and where to apply.

Using the Benefit Finder, answer questions about yourself and your needs. Afterwards, you can find out if you’re eligible for programs to help you pay for:

Utilities, and other necessities

Check back with in the future to see if you’re eligible for additional benefits. You can report major life events or see if new benefit programs have become available.

Search for Benefits and Programs for People with Disabilities

Find government and local disability programs including housing, jobs, education, and health care.

Do you receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI)? If you need help with your benefits, you can review these top questions about Social Security.

Search for Benefits for Military Veterans and Their Families

Learn about veterans benefits such as burial, education, health, and housing.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

There are a variety of benefit and aid programs to help you if you lose your job. is a good place to start. It can help with unemployment insurance benefits, job training, and finding a job.

Unemployment Insurance

Am I eligible?

Unemployment insurance programs pay you money if you lose your job through no fault of your own. You must meet your state's eligibility requirements.

How do I apply?

Each state runs its own program. Select your state from this map to find out how to apply. You may be able to file online, by phone, or in person.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Some states provide extended benefits when there's high unemployment. Extended unemployment insurance benefits last for 13 weeks. You can apply for extended benefits only once you've run out of regular benefits. Check with your state; not everyone qualifies.

Other Types of Benefits and Programs for the Unemployed

Educational Help

Federal agencies offer many unemployment education and training programs. They are generally free or low cost to the unemployed.

Self-Employment Help

Self-employment assistance programs help unemployed workers start their own small businesses. Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon offer this program.

Food Stamps (SNAP Food Benefits)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program. Known previously as "food stamps," SNAP benefits can help you stretch your food budget if you have a low income.

Learn About the Types of Food You Can Buy With SNAP Benefits

If you’re eligible, you can purchase food using benefits that are issued to you monthly. You can use your SNAP benefits to buy a variety of foods for your household, including:

Fruits and vegetables

Meat, poultry, and fish

Breads and cereals

Find Out If You Are Eligible for SNAP

To determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you must meet certain requirements. States have income limits for SNAP recipients. They can also factor in your resources, such as money in the bank, to decide if you qualify for SNAP.

Apply for SNAP Benefits

Use the online map to apply for SNAP and to find your state and local offices and phone numbers. You may also apply in person at your state or local office.

How Your SNAP Benefits Work

Your state will issue benefits each month on a plastic electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Much like a credit or debit card, you can use your EBT card to buy eligible food items. You must buy them from:

Some states have websites set up for managing your benefits. If your state doesn't have an EBT management website, you can contact your state SNAP office to check your benefits.

File a Complaint About SNAP

Whether you currently receive SNAP benefits or you're in the process of applying, you can file a complaint using these resources:

File a complaint online or by phone about a SNAP retailer. You will need to give the name and the location of the store. You may remain anonymous if you choose.

Contact your state's SNAP fraud hotline or website if you suspect fraud or abuse of the SNAP program.

Learn how to file a complaint if you believe you have experienced discrimination in the SNAP program because of:

How to apply for welfare

Qualifications for welfare vary by region and depend upon the type of social service assistance needed. Basic qualifications include total household income that falls below the poverty level in the area, and special circumstances, such as unusually high medical bills. Other factors that determine qualifications for welfare include the number of people in the family, especially children, pregnancy, homelessness, and unemployment.

Welfare programs include social programs providing indirect aid and cash economic assistance. Applicants seeking cash payments must show they are unable to support themselves or their families. Heads of households might be unemployed or underemployed, making it impossible to meet basic monthly expenses. Disabilities or temporary hardships represent other situations that factor into determining qualifications for welfare.

Social welfare programs might include rent subsidies to enable families to remain in a home when facing eviction or homelessness. These subsidies usually do not represent cash payments but go directly to the property owner. A similar program consists of food stamps, which are redeemed at grocery stores. In most areas, restrictions prohibit the use of food stamps for tobacco or alcohol.

Some families meet qualifications for welfare in the form of childcare vouchers to enable work outside the home. This program might pay all or some of the expense of childcare for low-income families. Families that qualify for childcare assistance are typically also eligible for welfare programs that pay medical expenses for children living in the home. Single parents might take advantage of these welfare benefits because they cannot afford private health insurance.

In some regions, programs exist that provide job training to help welfare recipients become employable. Tax breaks and help with utility costs might ease some of the burden of supporting a family until employment is found. Children living in these situations might receive free lunches at school as another indirect social welfare benefit.

The qualifications for welfare changed over the years in the U.S. from a federal program to control by individual states. Welfare began in the 1930s, when the Great Depression put millions of people out of work. Over the years, stories of widespread abuse of the system led to welfare reform restricting the number of years for cash payments and tightening eligibility for welfare assistance.

Temporary assistance for families set limits of two years before the head of household must find full-time employment. Single parents might work a shorter work week and still meet standards of the program. Changes to the welfare program aim to decrease reliance on outside assistance and make families self-supporting. Welfare reform in the United Kingdom also put conditions on benefits and increased benefits to children and the elderly, making its programs similar to those in Holland and Denmark.

The US has a number of benefit programs designed to help impoverished Americans in hardship.

This is done by using several different governmental programs such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, HUD homes programs and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). When you hear politicians and the public speaking of welfare it is normally referring to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, this was formerly called AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and it is a cash assistance setup that is usually directed towards single parents. This type of program is actually a fairly small portion of the entire welfare program. In order to take advantage of these programs you must meet the resource and income limitations. The Food Stamp and HUD programs receive federal funds, while the rest use both state and federal funds.

In the 1990’s the welfare program underwent several changes, perhaps the one most well known was replacing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children with TANF. Under the TANF program federal government gives money to states by way of block grants which allows states to have more authority and flexibility when trying to administer welfare programs. This program represents a changed version of the purpose of welfare. Instead of long-term program assistance, welfare is considered a short-term program that will help individuals become better able to support themselves. Meaning the head of the household is required to be working within 2 years of starting to receive benefits, and the families have an imposed limit of no more than 5 years of cash assistance.

It appears that no matter which way welfare assistance is set up, there has always been a tendency for the general public to view those that apply for welfare in a negative light. While work requirements have changed as part of reforming welfare, most Americans continue to see welfare recipients (most often unwed or divorced single moms) with equal parts of impatience and scorn. This, of course, is seen as a highly unfair label to those that desperately need the help that welfare offers.

Fortunately the public support for reforming welfare is evident that even as cynical as we have become, most still feel some type of obligation to help poorer families. Which indicates that while still trying to uphold America’s values regarding individualism, community and hard work the desire to help the less fortunate is still going strong.

To fully understand the process of applying for welfare you need to know the general information provided through the government and each state has their own set of requirements that must be met as well. So, familiarize yourself with the basics and then contact the state where you reside to see what specifics may be required before applying for welfare.

For example, to be eligible for Medicaid you do not have to be eligible for welfare as well. Nor can the state limit eligibility for Medicaid to families that are already receiving or entitled to receive TANF benefits. Individual states are required to provide Medicaid to any family that has the following:

  • Dependent child that lives with them
  • Have the same resources and income that allowed them to be qualified for AFDC
  • Certain types of deprivation requirements (such as an absent parent)

All states are required to provide comparable standards, meaning that all regulations have to be the same for all recipients and applicants that apply for welfare. States must also apply the same policies throughout all of the sates subdivisions, in short that means that all of a states regulations and rules are required to be the same for the entire state.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is, if you do not know then don’t be afraid to ask. The people are there to help you and will not set out to embarrass you in any way so give them a chance to help.

There are multiple ways to apply for RI Department of Human Services benefits and support, and you can apply for multiple programs simultaneously. More information on the rights and responsibilities of our customers can be found here.

How to apply for welfare

Our staff use a state-of-the-art eligibility system known as RIBridges to determine eligibility for our programs and Medicaid, which is administered by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The web-based system is also used to get other affordable healthcare coverage options offered by HealthSource RI (HSRI). HSRI is available to answer health coverage questions Monday through Friday 8AM to 6PM through their contact center, 1-855-840-4774. The three state agencies designed RIBridges together.

The following are the ways to apply for DHS benefits and Medicaid.

Apply Online

  • BEFORE APPLYING ONLINE, please view the HealthSourceRI Browsers table list for the most common internet browsers compatibility. Make sure your web/internet browser is up to date.
  • To apply for any of the available human service programs, select the ‘HealthyRhode RI’ link shown above.

Need help with using the HealthyRhode RI and the Customer Portal? How to guides can be found here.

Apply by Mail

By filling out the Application for Assistance that is available below in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The application can be mailed to DHS or put in any of our secure drop boxes at all DHS offices and regional family centers.

The Human Services Department (HSD) Income Support Division (ISD) is taking steps to slow the spread of coronavirus. ISD will go on providing services. But you do not have to visit an ISD field office.

ISD Field Office curbside and lobby hours area: 8 a.m. to noon, daily.*

* N. Valencia (Los Lunas), S. Dona Ana (Anthony), Sandoval (Rio Rancho), Santa Fe, Sierra (T or C), SE Bernalillo (Albuquerque), Taos will all be open 8 AM- 11 AM

We urge you to apply for benefits as follows:

You can apply at any time!

Apply online. Visit:

You can apply for Medicaid over the phone. Consolidated Customer Service Center: 1-800-283-4465

For Questions or to Complete your Interview please call the Consolidated Customer Service Center at: 1-800-283-4465


La División de Asistencia Económica (Income Support Division, ISD) del Departamento de Servicios Humanos (Human Services Department, HSD) está tomando acciones para disminuir la propagación del coronavirus. La ISD está comprometida a prestar servicios sin necesidad de que acuda a su sucursal local.

Las oficinas de la ISD están abiertas; pero lo alentamos a solicitar los beneficios de alguna de las siguientes maneras.

¡Puede solicitar los beneficios en cualquier momento!

Puede hacer la solicitud línea en:

Puede solicitar Medicaid por teléfono llamando al: 1-855-637-6574
Para preguntas o para completar su entrevista, llame al Centro de Servicio al Cliente: 1-800-283-4465

You may apply for public assistance using one of the options below. Once you have successfully submitted an application you will be contacted by the Human Services Department regarding the next steps to take. For more information on individual programs, please use the menu on the left.

Usted puede solicitar asistencia pública utilizando uno de los siguientes opciones. Cuando usted ha enviado correctamente una aplicación usted será contactado por el Departamento de Servicios Humanos en relación con los pasos a seguir. Para obtener más información sobre los programas particulares, por favor utilice el menú a la izquierda.


Cash Assistance and COVID-19

HRA is in the process of re-opening locations. If your needs cannot be met by ACCESS HRA, call 311 or consult the HRA Locations page for the latest information on center openings.

Important Information about Recertifications

  • Recertifications: If you receive a Cash Assistance or SNAP recertification notice by mail or an ACCESS HRA alert that you need to recertify, you must submit your recertification or your benefits will stop. You can use ACCESS HRA, fax, mail, or a drop box at open centers to submit your recertification. Please make sure that we have your correct phone number. You can check it and update it on ACCESS HRA website or the ACCESS HRA Mobile App. View the below sections to see how you can submit your recertification and supporting documents.
  • CA 6-month mailer and SNAP periodic report: Starting July 2021, if you do not return your SNAP periodic report or Cash Assistance mailer your case will close.

New! If you receive Cash Assistance and have lost your job or need to request a case change, you can now go to ACCESS HRA website and the mobile app to submit a case change online. Please make sure to upload documents in support of your request.

Returning or Submitting Documents

Need to return or submit documents? You can submit documents in the following ways:

  • Upload them using the ACCESS HRA mobile app. Go to
  • Fax them to your Job Center. Find the fax number for your Job Center.
  • Mail them to an open Job Center location in your borough.
  • Bring them to an open Job Center location.

Documentation Guide

This guide gives examples of documents you can use to give proof of information we need to decide on help for you. This guide doesn’t mention every type of document. Other documents may be used, even if not on the list. Download the guide in:

Eligible families may receive up to 60 months of federally funded cash assistance under the Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program (TANF). Single individuals without children and families who have already received cash assistance for 60 months may receive benefits under the New York State Safety Net Program.

Here are some situations that may make you eligible for additional cash assistance.

Eligible clients receiving temporary cash assistance are required to engage in work and/or educational activities in most cases. Learn more about educational opportunities on our Training and Education page.

(Those participating in an approved program can receive transportation and child care expenses so that they can meet their requirements.)

All Cash Assistance and SNAP applicants that have been approved for benefits will receive an EBT card in the mail. If your EBT card has not yet arrived, you can go to the Brooklyn OTC site for your permanent card, or one of seven open center locations for a temporary card that will have all benefits available until the EBT card arrives. Please see the list of locations here.

Emergency Assistance

You may be eligible for an emergency cash grant if it will meet certain special needs. For example:

  • Back rent would prevent your eviction
  • Payment is needed to maintain or restore utility service(s)
  • If you must move, you may be eligible for help with moving expenses, security deposit voucher, broker’s fees, or temporary storage for furniture and personal belongings

For more information, please contact HRA’s Infoline at 718-557-1399. Or ask an HRA worker at your Center about getting a request form.

Emergency Rental Assistance Grant Flyer:

Special Grant Document Guide

You can ask for a Special Grant to get benefits for emergencies or add members of your household to your case. You can find forms that are used to ask for a Special Grant in our Special Grant Document Guide.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

If you receive SNAP or Cash Assistance, you may qualify for a $50 per month discount on your mobile or fixed broadband internet service, along with a one-time $100 discount for purchasing a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. To learn more and apply, visit

Child Care

Parents and guardians who are employed or engage in work-related activities (required or voluntary), including those in school, may be eligible for child care. If eligible for child care, parents and guardians have the right to appropriate, affordable, accessible, and suitable child care. HRA will never require you to use a specific provider but can help you find one that is best for you if you need one.

If you are employed or participating in a work activity and would like HRA to help pay for child care, you and the provider will need to complete and submit the forms below.

Child Care Forms

Automated Child Care Eligibility and Enrollment System (ACEE): Child care programs for HRA clients
Child Care Provider Search: Easy to use search tool to locate NYC contracted & non-contracted Child Care Providers & short list/filter based on client needs
Child Care Provider Enrollment Supplement

View the Important Information about Child Care (FIA-1144) form in:

View the Enrollment Form for Provider of Legally-Exempt In-Home Child Care and Legally-Exempt Family Child Care (OCFS-LDSS-4699) in:

View the Legally-Exempt Child Care Training Record Form (OCFS-LDSS-4699.3) in:

View the Instructions for Enrollment Form for Provider of Legally-Exempt In-Home Child Care and Legally- Exempt Family Child Care (OCFS-LDSS-4699a) in:

Part A: Enrollment Form for Legally-Exempt Group Child Care Program (OCFS-LDSS-4700) in:

Instructions for Part A: Enrollment Form for Legally-Exempt Group Child Care Program (OCFS-LDSS-4700a) in:

View the Work Schedule for Child Care (FIA-1100) form in:


The Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) program is a unique initiative that addresses the needs of cash assistance clients with medical and/or mental health barriers to employment. The WeCARE program is available by referral only.

Other Forms

View the Verification of Secondary Tenant’s Residence and Housing Costs form in:

View the Request for Additional Allowance form in:



Daily Timekeeping System (DTS): For agencies that employee HRA clients
Food Card Access Project (FCAP): Submit appointments for SNAP interview
Line Item Contracts (LIC): Monthly line item expenses
Payment and Claiming System on the Web (PACSWeb): Enables vendors to request payments for services provided to HRA clients
Substance Abuse Tracking and Reporting System (STARS): For treatment providers
Supportive Housing System (PACT): The Office of Health and Mental Health Services’ Placement, Assessment and Client Tracking Unit
Training Provider Tracking System (TPTS): For training providers
Available Training/Educational Programs: Search for training/educational providers and programs
New Training Provider Application: Become a training provider
WeCare System: Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment, Rehabilitation and Employment program


COVID-19: Get the latest updates on COVID-19 at Find a vaccination site near you at

**DSS Field Offices are now open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

**DSS Field Offices and our staffed telephone Benefits Center (1-855-6-CONNECT or 1-855-626-6632) are closed on Wednesdays to allow our staff time to process applications, renewals and related work.

**24/7 access: Customers can access benefit and application information, at and; or our automated Client Information Line at 1-855-6-CONNECT (1-855-626-6632). More about 24/7 access options at

and; or 1-855-6-CONNECT (1-855-626-6632), except during system maintenance on Friday, 10/22/2021 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., during which ConneCT will experience limited functionality. –>

How to Apply for Services


There are several ways to apply for DSS programs and services. You can apply online; download and mail in an application; or, for some health coverage, apply over the phone at Access Health CT. When possible, we recommend online application as the quickest and most convenient.

    Households and individuals who wish to apply for or renew health coverage for children (HUSKY A & B); parents with dependent children (HUSKY A); caretakers/guardians of minor children (HUSKY A); pregnant women (HUSKY A); and adults under 65 without dependent children (HUSKY D), can apply online at

Please click on the ‘How To’ link on this page for more application guidance and options.

  • How to apply for welfareUnited States FULL
  • How to apply for welfareConnecticut FULL

The Public Assistance (PA) Program Delivery Model is the process used by FEMA to deliver grant assistance to Applicants following a disaster declaration. Projects are segmented based on the complexity of the type of work. Workflows are transparent and accountable through the online Grants Manager and Grants Portal tools. The process pairs specialized staff, roles, and responsibilities to fit Applicants’ needs; and centralizes processing to ensure consistency across multiple disaster operations.

Communities interested in applying for a PA Grant should contact their local or state emergency manager to begin the process and submit a Request for Public Assistance form. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit their forms through the online FEMA Grants Portal for faster processing.

Phases of the Public Assistance Delivery Model

1. Operational Planning

In Phase 1, Applicants work with the Recipient and FEMA to identify disaster impacts and recovery priorities. As soon as possible following the President’s declaration, the Recipient conducts briefings for all potential Applicants. Applicants register to access the online grants management system (Grants Portal) and submit Requests for Public Assistance (RPA), which are then reviewed by the Recipient and FEMA for eligibility. Once complete, FEMA will generally assign the Applicant a Program Delivery Manager (PDMG) to guide the Applicant throughout the program delivery process. The PDMG will schedule an Exploratory Call and a Recovery Scoping Meeting to provide Applicants with information about next steps.

2. Impacts and Eligibility

In Phase 2, Applicants must report all disaster-related impacts to FEMA within 60 days of the Recovery Scoping Meeting. FEMA then works with the Applicant to finalize the list of impacts; logically group the impacts and associated damage and work into project applications; conduct site inspections to develop a detailed description of the incident-related damage and dimensions; and collect additional project information and documentation.

3. Scoping and Costing

In Phase 3, FEMA develops the damage description and dimensions (for Completed/Fully Documented projects), scopes of work (if not provided by the Applicant), including hazard mitigation plans, and costs for each project. FEMA reviews and validates all documentation to ensure document integrity and compliance with all laws and regulations including for duplication-of-benefits from insurance or other Federal Agencies and Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) compliance.

4. Final Reviews

In Phase 4, FEMA and the Recipient review and validate the project application to ensure completeness, eligibility, and compliance with Federal laws and regulations on items such as contracting and environmental and historic preservation. The Applicant reviews all terms and conditions that FEMA or the Recipient include in the project application and signs in agreement to the funding terms, including requirements for reporting on project work progress and completion.

5. Obligation and Recovery Transition

In Phase 5, FEMA obligates funds to the Recipient, after which the Recipient is responsible for distributing the funds to the Applicant. Once the Applicant has signed all of its projects, FEMA coordinates with the Recipient to schedule a Recovery Transition Meeting. The purpose of the Recovery Transition Meeting is to transition the primary point-of-contact from FEMA field personnel to the Recipient. At the meeting, FEMA will confirm with the Applicant that all claimed damage is sufficiently and accurately documented, explain deadlines for completion of work and appeal, and ensure that the Applicant understands the terms and conditions of its projects.

6. Post-Award Monitoring and Amendments

In Phase 6, the Applicant provides additional documentation as its recovery efforts unfold. The Applicant may submit an amendment request to change the scope of work or costs of a project or request additional time to complete the project. FEMA will review all amendment and time extension requests for eligibility and compliance with EHP regulations. During this phase, Recipients will work with Applicants to submit quarterly progress reporting and address federal and non-federal audit requests.

7. Final Reconciliation and Closeout

In Phase 7, the Applicant coordinates with the Recipient to formally close projects upon completion of work. Once all of an Applicant’s projects are complete, the Recipient will request closeout for the Applicant. Once all Applicants are closed, FEMA and the Recipient will work together to close the PA award for the entire disaster.

Grants Manager and Grants Portal

How to apply for welfare

Applicants should use the Grants Portal to account for all activities associated with their damage claims.

Need help? Call the hotline at 1-866-337-8448 or email the Grants Portal team to request webinars and training.

The Grants Manager and Grants Portal tool is a two-part, online platform that is used to formulate and track award packages. Grants Manager is the internal platform used by FEMA specialists, while the Grants Portal is the external platform used by applicants, recipients, and sub-recipients to manage their projects.