Eligibility & How to Apply

Am I eligible for help from the Rhode Island Works (RIW) Program?

A mom works on her laptop with her young child coloring nearby.

To receive assistance through this 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 U.S. 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 (food assistance).

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.

How much cash assistance will I receive?

The amount of money your family receives depends on your income, household size and housing situation. Approved during the summer of 2021, RIW benefits increased by 30 percent. The new, higher benefit amount started on September 1, 2021. Eligible families may receive: 

  • Family of two - $584
  • Family of three - $721
  • Family of four - $825

Larger households will also receive an increased benefit. Families are given less per month if they receive subsidized housing assistance. For more information about the increase, subsidized housing benefit amounts and how this increase may impact other benefits RIW recipients receive, go here.  

    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.

    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.

      How long do benefits last?

      Adults can receive cash assistance for up to 48 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.

      How will I receive the cash?

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

      How do I apply?

      You can apply using the online Customer Portal, by phone (number below) or by filling out a paper application. All can be found on our Apply Now page.  

      For more information...

      Call 1-855-MY-RIDHS (1-855-697-4347) or TTY 1-800-745-5555 (for hearing impaired).