If you're struggling to pay for bills or put food on the table, Ohio financial assistance programs can help. Ohio's Works First (OWF) offers financial assistance to needy families. The program is part of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
What is the Works First Cash Assistance Program?
TANF's financial assistance is time-limited and supplies families eligible for the program cash benefits for a period of up to 36 months or three years. Following the expiration of the 36-month program, the benefits will end.
Additional assistance programs are only available if approved by the County Department of Job and Family Services. The Department can authorize an extension for cash benefits on a case-by-case basis.
The extension eligibility requires a 24-month period following the end of previous financial assistance to qualify. You may also fall into a hardship category wherein you're under extraordinary circumstances and cannot be self-sufficient.
Unlike other programs offered in the past, OWF focus on:
- Applicant self-sufficiency
- Personal responsibility
Ohio Works First has a long list of qualifications that must be met for approval.
Who Qualifies for Ohio Financial Assistance
Designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans, the program requires that you're a legal resident of Ohio to apply. In addition, you must fall into one of the following categories to be considered for the Ohio financial assistance program:
- Low income, or
- Very low income, or
- Unemployed, or
You must also be pregnant, 18 years of age or younger, head of household, or have a child 18 years old or younger.
Not sure if you're eligible for OWF? Check whether you qualify using this eligibility checker.
How to Apply for the Works First Cash Assistance Program
Ohio financial assistance requires applicants to show an abundance of proof to be approved under the program. You'll need to provide the following information:
- Employment status
- Citizenship status
- State you reside in
- If you're the head of household
- Number of children for whom you're responsible
- Total income
- A variety of questions relating to your health and the health of your family
You can run these very questions through the online platform to determine eligibility. If you want to apply and believe you're eligible for the program, you can do so at your local office, online or by phone. You'll want to find your local administering agency to find where to apply for the program.
Applications for Ohio financial assistance are often in backlog, and it can take up to 30 days for your case to complete. Unfortunately, calling will not speed up approval.
The county will require you to come into the office to conduct an interview. During the interview, you'll be required to bring proof of expenses and income, a form of identification and proof of childcare.
You'll also need to supply proof of additional costs, such as housing or utility costs.
Income reports for the last 30 days or proof of job loss will also be required.
Work Program Requirements
You must try to actively look for work and try to become self-sufficient. You'll need to cooperate under any JOBS or work programs to remain eligible for assistance. Remember that you must sign and agree to a self-sufficiency contract that requires work-related activities to be performed.
"Work activities" is a rather vague definition of what form of work needs to be completed. Under this definition, work activities can mean working a traditional job or attending:
- Community service
- Education programs
- On-the-job training
If you're meeting these requirements, you're upholding your end of the agreement.
Ohio Works First Payments
If you're wondering how much financial assistance you'll receive under the program, the average payment in 2018 was $203.58 per recipient. The payment can either be:
- In the form of a MasterCard
- Deposited directly into your account
You'll be able to use your payment for any expense that you deem fit. Payments may be higher or lower than the amount listed above.
Applying for Ohio financial assistance doesn't mean that you'll be accepted. If you're deemed ineligible for benefits and you believe that this is an error, you can seek legal aid to help. In addition, you may be able to appeal the decision or reapply with the appropriate documentation to prove you meet eligibility requirements.