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Government Benefits After You Start Working

When you start working, you may still be eligible to keep your public assistance case open, and to receive a cash and/or rent supplement, food stamps, Medicaid, and child care, depending on your income.

If your public assistance case is closed after you start working, you may still be eligible for food stamps based on your income. You may also be eligible to receive “transitional benefits:” Medicaid and child care for up to one year.

Will My Public Assistance Case Be Closed When I Start Working?

Not necessarily: it depends on your circumstances and how much you earn.

You are required to report to your welfare caseworker any changes in income, such as starting a new job or getting an increase in wages, within ten days of receiving the new or increased income. When you report such a change, your budget will be recalculated to include the new income.

First, your gross (before tax) monthly income cannot exceed 185% of the household’s standard need.

In most cases, the first $90 of your gross (before tax) monthly income from employment is not counted (“disregarded”).

If there are no children living in your household, then you will still be eligible for public assistance if your monthly earned income minus $90 is less than the total welfare budget you were eligible for before you had work income. Your monthly public assistance grant will equal the difference between these two amounts.

If there are children living in your household and you were receiving public assistance for at least one of the last four months, then much more of your employment income is disregarded.

To figure out if you are still eligible for PA:

  • Multiply your weekly before tax income by 4.33. The result is your monthly gross income.
  • Subtract $90 from your monthly gross income.
  • Multiply the remainder by 53% (.53).
  • If the resulting amount is less than your total monthly welfare budget (rent + cash) before you started working, you will still be eligible to get public assistance.
  • Subtract the result from your monthly welfare budget. The amount left over is your new PA grant. Your new PA grant will usually go first toward rent.

If, after you do the first three calculations above, the resulting amount is more than your total monthly public assistance budget, you are no longer eligible for welfare and your case will be closed.

Will I Still Be Eligible for Food Stamps?

You may be eligible for food stamps whether or not your public assistance case is closed.

If your public assistance case remains open, then your food stamps will be rebudgeted to account for the new income.

If your public assistance case is closed because of your new income, welfare is supposed to calculate a new food stamps budget for you. If you are still eligible for food stamps, you will automatically get an additional month of food stamp benefits through your welfare center after your public assistance case is closed. Welfare should then transfer your case to a “non-public assistance food stamps center” and you should not have to reapply for food stamps. However, this often doesn’t happen the way it should.

If your food stamps are discontinued when your welfare case is closed, but you believe you may still be eligible, request a fair hearing and apply for food stamps at a non-public assistance food stamps center.

Households with children leaving public assistance are eligible for 5 months of transitional food stamp benefits.

Will I Still Be Eligible for Medicaid?

If your public assistance case remains open, then you will continue to receive Medicaid through your regular welfare center.

If there are no children under 21 living in your household you are not eligible for transitional Medicaid after your welfare case is closed.

If there are children under 21 living in your household you are eligible for transitional Medicaid if:

  • Your welfare case was closed because of your employment income, and
  • You received public assistance during at least three of the six months before your case was closed.

If you meet the requirements for transitional Medicaid, your Medicaid should continue for you and your children for six months after your case is closed.

You may be eligible for an additional six-month extension of Medicaid if you still have a dependent child in your household and your gross income (minus child care costs) is no more than 185% of the federal poverty level.

Request a fair hearing if you think you are entitled to transitional Medicaid but you did not get it.

What About Child Care Costs?

If your public assistance case remains open, you are guaranteed child care assistance for your children under age 13 if you need child care to work. Apply for child care through your welfare caseworker.

You are guaranteed transitional child care assistance for children under age 13 if:

  • Your public assistance case was closed because of increased employment income, or increased child support income, or you voluntarily closed your public assistance case, and
  • Your income is less than state guidelines and
  • You need child care to work.

If you received public assistance for at least three of the six months before your case was closed you will receive a year of transitional child care. If you received public assistance for less than three months, you will receive only three additional months of transitional child care. After this transitional period you will be called in for an appointment with the Agency for Child Development. ACD will check your income to make sure you are eligible, and then help pay for your child care until your youngest child turns 13.

While transitional benefits and ACD pay part of your child care costs you will be required to pay part of the cost, according to a sliding scale based on your household income.

This article was posted October 09, 2007