Apply For Rhode Island TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for Rhode Island TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Rhode Island Works (RIWorks), may help you become self-supportive while receiving monthly cash benefits to meet your everyday needs such as rent, utilities, clothes, transportation, or additional expenses.

Sometimes you may not be eligible to receive TANF for yourself, but a child or children in your household may. The TANF program is administered by the Executive Office of Human Services. In most cases, in order to qualify for TANF you must meet both types of eligibility, categorical and financial.

Additionally, to qualify for TANF there are work requirements. The RI TANF program requires most adults be employed or participate in certain work-related activities, which you will be assigned for a certain number of hours on a weekly basis in order to continue receiving TANF benefits.

The total number of hours needed to fulfill your work activity requirement depends on your family composition. Qualified state residents are required to produce information including household income, age, citizenship and resources.

Only household members who are eligible for Rhode Island TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for RI TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF Rhode Island.

Rhode Island TANF eligibility

To be eligible for cash assistance through the Rhode Island Works (RIW) Program:

  • You must have a dependent child or be pregnant
  • You must meet the income limits
  • You must meet the asset limits
  • Most families must meet work requirements
  • You must live in Rhode Island and be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen

Because the overall goal of RIW Program is to encourage families to work and become self-sufficient, parents who work may still qualify for cash assistance and other help, including health care coverage, child care subsidies, and SNAP benefits.

DHS Social Caseworkers work with parents to develop an employment plan that outlines activities they must do to improve their success in the job market. Most parents will first be required to search for employment.

Single parents must work or prepared for work an average of 20 or 30 hours per week depending on the age of the youngest child. Job training and education may be recommended.

Apply for Rhode Island TANF

You can apply online for RI TANF at Or if you prefer, you can download a copy of the TANF application and submit it in-person to your local DHS office. To find a location, view a list of DHS offices near you.

TANF benefit amount

The amount of money your family receives depends on your income, household size, and housing situation. Each month, eligible families typically receive:

  • Family of two: $449
  • Family of three: $554
  • Family of four: $634

Usually, a family is given $80 a month for each additional member. Families are given $50 less a month if they receive subsidized housing assistance.

TANF asset limits

Applicants may have up to $1,000 in resources (their home is excluded) and may have one vehicle for each adult in the household, but no more than two vehicles per household.

TANF time limit

Adults can receive cash assistance for up to 24 months out of any 60 month period for a lifetime limit of 48 months. Generally, children will receive cash assistance only while the parents are receiving cash assistance.

Receiving TANF benefits

One half of the monthly cash benefit is issued to eligible families twice a month through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT). With your EBT card, you can withdraw cash at bank ATMs and supermarkets like you would a debit card.

TANF work requirements

All parents who receive cash assistance must enter into and comply with an employment plan to prepare for and enter employment as soon as possible. The first activity for most parents will be a job search. Other employment, education, or training may be possible. Work activities include:

  • Employment
  • Subsidized employment
  • Unpaid work experience or community service
  • On-the-job training
  • Job search
  • Job readiness
  • Vocational education training (not to exceed 12 months)
  • Adult education in an intensive work readiness program (not to exceed 6 months)

If an individual is already doing at least 20 hours per week of a core work activity (see list above), they also have the option to do one of the following:

  • Job skills training
  • Education (may be full-time for a youth under 20 years old who does not yet have a High School diploma or general equivalency diploma)

If you do not meet work requirements, as defined in your individual employment plan, you will be notified in writing that you may be subject to a financial penalty unless you contact DHS and can prove good cause for not participating.

If you don't comply with the employment plan, your cash benefit could be reduced for up to 3 months or until you comply. After 3 months of non-compliance, the entire cash benefit to the family is ended. Parents may reapply but must demonstrate compliance with their employment plans for a minimum of two weeks before they receive benefits again.

Benefits will be restored on the first of the month, following the month of demonstrated compliance with work requirements and employment plan activities.

Two-Parent families

In families consisting of two parents, one or both parents are required to work or be engaged in work activities as an individual or combined total of at least 35 hours per week. If the family uses a child care subsidy, both parents must work or prepare for work a total of 55 hours per week.

Minor parents

Parents or pregnant girls younger than 18 who wish to receive cash assistance must live at home with a parent or legal guardian, or if this is to be found inappropriate, with a caretaker relative, legal guardian, or in a supervised supportive living arrangement approved and monitored by the Youth Success Program.

In most cases, the cash payment is given to the parent, relative, or the legal guardian on behalf of the minor parent. In addition, the minor parents must participate in secondary education.

When parents work

Parents are allowed to keep the first $170 of earnings per month without receiving less cash assistance from the state. After the first $170 in earnings, the cash benefit is reduced $1 for every $2 earned. The money that a dependent child earns is not included. Changes in earned income of $100 or more per month must be reported.

I was denied TANF benefits. What can I do?

State and local agencies are responsible for establishing the eligibility criteria and procedures that apply in their programs, not the Federal government. If you disagree with a decision regarding welfare benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. For more information about your state's appeals procedures, contact the RI TANF office.