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Minnesota public assistance and government aid.

Low income individuals and families who are struggling may be able to get help from public assistance programs in Minnesota. Everything from cash aid to food stamps, disability, and other benefits programs are offered. A number of state government run resources and social services listed by county below are focused on helping the working poor and low income meet their basic needs. The Minnesota Department of Human Services can help with food, housing, medical bills, and other expenses. Dial (651) 431-2000.

Public cash assistance and food aid in Minnesota

Receive both cash and food from the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). This is the state of Minnesota’s public assistance/welfare program for low-income families with children. Many people may refer to it as TANF. The Minnesota MFIP program can help lower income and disadvantaged families move to work and pay bills over the short term. After applying for cash assistance, most families will then need to participate in the Diversionary Work Program, or DWP.

The primary goal of this four-month long program is to help parents find a job and obtain work. The Family Investment Program may be able to help families transition to economic stability, pay their bills, and find a job. Parents are expected to work in order to receive public assistance, and are supported in working. There are many other government financial assistance programs.

Food Assistance and Support Programs can help lower income people with their grocery and nutritional needs. Services provided can include Expedited Food Support, emergency groceries, USDA benefits, Food Stamps (which is now known as Food Support), and government aid.

The Food Support program, also called SNAP Food Stamps, is offered at the county level, but at the end of the day it is a federal government paid for program that helps low income Minnesotans buy the groceries they need for well-balanced meals and sound nutrition. It can help stop hunger. The program issues electronic food support benefits and vouchers that people use as part of their budget. Or turn to a free food pantry in Minnesota.




Another option is the Minnesota Food Assistance Program, which is paid for by the state. It was created as a result of federal government law changes which made certain non-citizens ineligible for federally funded food stamps. It is yet another resources available using public assistance. State funds are provided from MFAP to replace the public assistance benefits lost when federal Food Support eligibility ends. Free food, resources and vouchers from MFAP are only offered for people over 50 who are not citizens.

The Child Care Assistance Program can help qualifying low income families both find affordable child care and also pay for it. The state of Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will help make high quality day care affordable for income-eligible families. Various qualifications need to be met, and Child Care Assistance is available to families that had an MFIP case close within the last 12 months and for low income families participating in Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). In addition, some low-income families in Minnesota may be eligible for the Basic Sliding Fee program. More on free daycare in Minnesota.

Minnesota Diversionary Work Program will help families find a job and gain employment. The Department of Human Services can help parents immediately go to work to gain an income rather than go on welfare or public assistance. Those grants can then be used to pay the families living expenses. Interested parents will be expected and required to sign an employment plan with the state before their family is approved for DWP. After families have an agreed upon employment plan, clients will then be able to receive financial and public assistance to meet their basic needs and pay bills. Low income families will also be able to get other support, such as health care assistance, food support and child care.





Minnesota Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) are part of a statewide resettlement program. Public programs administered include employment, social services, cash and medical bill assistance, and job placement resources. These government funded benefits, which are paid for at the federal level, are available to a refugee for the first eight months after they arrive in the country. Your local county human service agencies and voluntary resettlement agencies run the refugee programs.

The Department of Human Services General Assistance Program can help childless married couples as well as single adults who are unable to work and can’t afford to pay their bills. It is their primary safety net for paying for basic needs and bills.

The Minnesota General Assistance program provides monthly cash grants and disbursements for low income people and the working poor whose resources and income are less than program limits. In addition, participants in GA are also eligible for help with paying for medical and hospital bills through the Food Support (referenced above) and various Medical Bill Assistance (MA) programs per below.

Public health and disability assistance

Get public health care from Medical Assistance. This is the state’s primary health care assistance program, and helps over 500,000 people every month. Basic check ups, medications, and even some dental services are paid for using public money. Medical Assistance in Minnesota really focuses on families, babies and children. The second primary recipients are adults without children as well as people who have disabilities as well as senior citizens. Income limits need to be met. Or if not qualified, then find another free dental clinic.

Minnesota Supplemental Aid is paid for by the state, and it provides a monthly cash supplement to people who are disabled, aged, blind or who may receive public help from the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits program.

There is some flexibility here, as some recipients of the aid who do not receive help from SSI because their household income is too high may still be eligible for MSA if they meet other MSA eligibility criteria, including income limits.





MinnesotaCare is a public and government subsidized insurance program for low income and working poor Minnesota residents who do not have access to affordable private health care coverage. It is similar to Medicaid. This has been one of the main programs used to help residents leave welfare or public assistance and go to work without losing their health insurance or care coverage. Some of the conditions for enrollment include:

  • The majority of enrollees will need to pay a monthly premium towards their bills. The exact amount is determined by a sliding-fee scale based on income and family size.
  • Most residents will not be eligible if their employer offers health insurance and pays at least half of the monthly costs for it. However there are some exceptions to this rule for some children.

All medical and health care resources as part of MinnesotaCare are provided through health plans that people can select from a list of approved plans.

Assistance from Minnesota Counties and Cities

Anoka County

Dakota County

Hennepin County

Ramsey County

Washington County


By Jon McNamara

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