Ohio Works First, also known as cash assistance or Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), is temporary assistance available to families to help pay for immediate needs while the adults of the family prepare and search for jobs. Ohio Works First is a work program. Families receive assistance by spending a minimum of 20 to 35 hours per week (depending on circumstances) working, in school, or in some cases, volunteering at a location that will help them gain work experience for the future. Adults who are unable to find a work or volunteer activity will work closely with their STEPS case manager to remove any remaining barriers to finding employment.
Benefits are distributed through the EPPIcard, which can be used like a debit card, or through direct deposit into the individual’s bank account. Families may be eligible for the program for up to 36 months, which may be non-consecutive. Ultimately, Ohio Works First allows families to work toward financial stability.
Do I Qualify?
Eligibility for Ohio Works First is based on the family’s income and the number of people living in the household. Minor children and women who are at least six months pregnant and in an approved living arrangement may also be eligible.
Typically, to qualify for cash assistance, a family must meet the “gross monthly income test”, which means that their monthly income (both earned and unearned) before taxes is below a certain level.
The best way to find out if you qualify is to apply. There are certain individuals that are not eligible, including:
- Fugitive felons.
- Probation/parole violators.
- Individuals convicted for fraudulent misstatement of residence in order to receive benefits.
- Individuals that receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI or SSDI).
- Families that receive adoption assistance payments or federal, state or local foster care maintenance payments.
Other individuals may also be ineligible, but are not included in the list above.