Rhode Island Works Program

The RI Works Program provides cash assistance to families with children up to age 18 and work readiness services for enrolled parents. The maximum benefit is the amount listed in the chart below and depends on family size and living arrangement. A family receives the difference between countable income and the benefit amount.

Families eligible for RI Works also receive SNAP benefits, health insurance (through the RIte Care program), child care assistance necessary for the parent to participate in work-readiness activities or employment and transportation assistance.

Time limits are applied to the receipt of RI Works cash benefits.  Parents and caretaker relatives can receive RI Works benefits for a total of  48 months. Children are subject to the same time limits as their parents, except children who live with a parent who receives SSI benefits or who lives with a caretaker relative (who is not in the payment) can receive assistance until he/she turns 18 (or if in high school or obtaining a GED, until graduation).

Families may be eligible for a “hardship extension” to the 48 month time limit. Hardship extensions are based on the parent’s inability to work due to disability of the parent, need to care for a disabled family member in the home, homelessness, domestic violence or high unemployment in the state. Extensions are granted for 6-month periods. The hardship extension is available to recipients to prevent loss of benefits, as well as to applicants who have exceeded the 48 month time limit.

Parents are provided services to prepare for employment, find a job and/or overcome barriers to employment.  Parents can participate in training to prepare for employment including attending CCRI (for one year as the sole activity).  Parents with limited English proficiency or literacy are referred to adult education programs for assistance.  The employment plan is the document that sets out the parent’s goals and the programs in which they will participate.  Parents with disabilities, who need to care full-time for a family member with a disability or who are victims of domestic violence are not required to have an employment plan. Parents who do not develop or comply with their employment plan can be sanctioned.

Parents need to also cooperate with the Office of Child Support Services in pursuing a support order against the non-custodial parent.  The parent can request a waiver from cooperation based on domestic violence and will be referred to the Family Violence Option Advocacy Program for safety planning and to prove eligibility for the waiver. See more information in English or Spanish.

Who Qualifies?

  • Families with children under the age of 18 (or 18 and in high school or pursuing a GED).
  • Families include children living with parent(s) or with caretaker relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings…).
  • Pregnant women in their 6th month of pregnancy.
  • Pregnant and parenting teenagers (under age 18) must live with parent/relative or in a supervised setting.
  • Must be a citizen or eligible legal immigrant: Eligible immigrants include : Refugees and persons granted asylum.  Lawful permanent residents (LPR) who entered the U.S. before 8/22/96 or if entered on/after 8/22/96 must be in status for at least five years. Immigrants who are sponsored into the U.S. may have some of their sponsor’s income and resources counted.

Income and Resource Limits

The income limits for families of different sizes are listed in the table below. Earned and unearned income are counted against the income limit.  Unearned income is counted dollar for dollar. Deductions are applied to earned income, so that families with limited earnings may qualify for a supplemental payment from RI Works.

The resource limit is $1,000. The home in which the family lives and one car per adult household member is not counted (to maximum of two).

How to Apply

As of September, 2021, DHS offices are closed due to COVID.  To apply:

Request an application from DHS by calling 1-855-697-4347, or go to the DHS website to download the “DHS-2” application. https://dhs.ri.gov/apply-now. Fill out the application and return it and required documentation to one of the DHS offices. (see website).

Apply on-line at: healthyrhoderi.gov. You can upload necessary documents.

A DHS worker will determine eligibility for RI Works (and for SNAP if you are also applying for that benefit) and eligibility for RIte Care will also be determined.  The DHS worker will also explain the Domestic Violence exceptions to employment plan and Child Support cooperation and refer the applicant to the Family Violence Option Program, if appropriate.

The DHS worker will help develop the employment plan (or grant an exemption) and the parent will be referred to a community vendor for deeper employment assessment and enrollment in an appropriate work-readiness activity.

A decision on the RI Works application must be made within 30 days of submitting the application.

Families are recertified for RI Works every 6 months. The parent is notified of the recertification appointment with the eligibility worker by mail.

Applicants denied RI Works and recipients who are notified that benefits will be reduced or terminated can request a hearing within 30 days of the date on the notice.  If a hearing is requested within 10 days of the notice of benefit termination or reduction benefits can continue until a hearing decision is reached.  If the parent loses the hearing, benefits must be repaid.

RI Legal Services (401-274-2652) may provide assistance to families who are denied benefits, receive notice of termination or have other problems with RI Works.

Income Guidelines,  RI Works (2021)*

Family Size Income Limit/Maximum Monthly Payment Amount Income Limit if Living in Subsidized/Public Housing
1 $426 $360
2 $584 $519
3 $721 $656
4 $825 $760
5 $929 $864
6 $1,033 $968
7 $1,137 $1,072
8 $1,241 $1,176

*Under a new law, monthly benefits for families receiving RI Works were increased by 30% starting July 2021. For more information read this factsheet (available in English and Spanish).

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