Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Read below to learn more about the rules and guidelines for the public work support programs on Bridge to Benefits. Click on a question below to find the answer.

  1. Who administers these programs?
  2. What is an income limit?
  3. Which programs have exceptions to the income limits?
  4. What are assets?
  5. Which programs count assets?
  6. What if I don't have any children? Will I still qualify for any of these programs?
  7. What if I am pregnant? Does this change my eligibility for any programs?
  8. What if I am a grandparent raising my grandchild(ren) or other caregiver raising child(ren) who are not my own? Can we apply for programs as a family?
  9. If I am under the age of 18 and don’t live with my parent(s) or guardian(s), am I eligible for any programs on my own?
  10. How does Minnesota residency affect my eligibility for these programs?
  11. How does my immigration status affect my eligibility for these programs?
  12. Who is an eligible caregiver for Child Care Assistance Programs?
  13. What if all eligible caregivers in my household are NOT employed 20 hours or more per week? Can I still get Child Care Assistance?
  14. Can I get the money from my EITC before tax season?
  15. Will receiving money from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) affect my eligibility for other programs?
  16. If I have or can get health insurance through my employer or another source, will I still qualify for public health insurance?
  17. Is there a waiting list for any programs on this site?
  18. Do I have to file my taxes to be eligible for any of these public work support programs?
  19. What is MAGI and what programs look at income using this determination?
Who administers these programs?

MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance:

Minnesota Department of Human Services

Advanced Premium Tax Credits

MnSure

Energy Assistance Program:

Minnesota Department of Commerce

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support):

Minnesota Department of Human Services

School Meal Program:

Minnesota Department of Education - Food and Nutrition Services

Child Care Assistance Programs:

Minnesota Department of Human Services

Earned Income Tax Credit:

United States Internal Revenue Service

Working Family Credit:

Minnesota Department of Revenue

Women, Infants, and Children Program:

Minnesota Department of Health

What is an income limit?

An income limit is the maximum amount of money that you or your family can make and still qualify for a program. If your yearly gross income (before taxes) is higher than an income limit, you will probably not qualify. However, some programs have exceptions to the income limits. For example,  if you have child care expenses or medical bills you may be able to deduct or spend down income to qualify for Medical Assistance. Also some programs have different income levels for different members of a family. Click here to view the income limits for programs on this site.

Which programs have exceptions to the income limits?

Medical Assistance (MA)/MinnesotaCare/Advanced Premium Tax Credits:

Minnesota’s Health Care programs now use Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) to determine income eligibility. MAGI allows certain deductions from gross annual income for things such as self-employed expenses, student loan interest, tuition and fees, educator expenses, IRA deductions, moving expenses, penalties on early withdrawals, health savings deductions, alimony paid, and other similar deductions.  MAGI is found on Line 37 of IRS Form 1040. If you are receiving care or services from the Center for Victims of Torture, you are eligible for Medical Assistance regardless of your income, immigration status or assets.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support)?The following families are eligible for SNAP with no income or asset test:

•   Families in which at least 1 child in the household is eligible to receive Basic Sliding Fee Child Care and/or the Transition Year Child Care. The family must apply and be eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program but can still be on the waiting list.

•   Families participating in the Diversionary Work Program (DWP).

•   Families composed entirely of people who receive General Assistance (GA), Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Minnesota.

Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC):

If you or a family member is currently participating in any of the following programs, you and your family are income eligible for the WIC program:

1.          Medical Assistance

2.          MinnesotaCare

3.          SNAP

4.          Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)

5.          Energy Assistance

6.          Free or Reduced Priced School Meal

7.          Head Start

Or, if you or a family member is currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medical Assistance - TEFRA, the person receiving these benefits is income eligible for the WIC Program.

Click here to view the income limits for the programs on this site.

What are assets?
Assets are items of value that you or your family own including cash on hand, money in a checking or savings account or an Individual Retirement Account, and stocks and bonds.
Which programs count assets?

Medical Assistance/MinnesotaCare/Advanced Premium

Tax Credits: In keeping with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) none of Minnesota’s health care programs look at assets in determining eligibility for adults under age 64 and children.  There are asset limits for low-income seniors and certain disabled populations under the Medical Assistance program.

Energy Assistance Program (EAP):

EAP does not look at assets.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support)

Effective November 1, 2010 SNAP no longer has an asset limit.

The traditional income limit of 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidlines and asset limits of $3,000 for the elderly/disabled persons and $2,000 for other persons will still apply in the following situations

•   A household member has an intentional program violation.

•   A household member receiving SNAP fails to comply with six-month or monthly reporting requirements.

•   The Primary Wage Earner (PWE) fails to comply with work requirements.

•   A household member receiving SNAP is convicted of a drug related felony.

School Meal Program: The School Meal Program does not look at assets.

Child Care Assistance Programs: Child Care Assistance Programs do not look at assets.

Earned Income Tax Credit/Working Family Credit (EITC/WFC): For Tax Year 2014, if you have more than $3,350 in investment income, you cannot get the EITC or WFC. Other assets such as money in a checking or savings account or other items you own do not matter for the EITC/WFC.

Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC): WIC does not look at assets.

What if I don't have any children? Will I still qualify for any of these programs?

Yes. Adults without children in the household are eligible for the health care programs (Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare and the Advanced Premium Tax Credits), SNAP (formerly Food Support), Energy Assistance and tax credits (EITC and WFC). Pregnant women are eligible for WIC.

Adults without children are NOT eligible for the School Meal Program, WIC, or Child Care Assistance Programs, in most cases. 

What if I am pregnant? Does this change my eligibility for any programs?

Medical Assistance: Income limits are higher for pregnant women than for other adults.  Also, Medical Assistance counts the unborn child(ren) count in determining household size.

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP):?As a pregnant woman, you can apply for CCAP before the child is born. In fact, it is recommended that you do. When filling out the application, count your unborn child as an infant.

Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC): ?If you are pregnant, you may apply for WIC and your unborn child(ren) will be counted in your family size.

What if I am a grandparent raising my grandchild(ren) or other caregiver raising child(ren) who are not my own? Can we apply for programs as a family?

Grandparents, other relative caregivers, or family friends who are raising children who are not their own can apply for most of these programs in two different ways:  1) You can apply as a household and count the children in your care as if they were your own; or 2) You can apply just for the children in your care.  You do not have to be a legal guardian to apply as a household or to apply on behalf of the children.  However, the child(ren) must live with you for more than six months of the year and the biological parents cannot be claiming the child(ren) for the same public program benefits.

If you apply as a household you may have a larger family size that will allow you to qualify for programs at a higher income level or provide you with a larger benefit amount.  For grandparents over the age of 65, applying as a household may make you eligible to receive benefits from programs you normally would not be eligible for as an adult over the age of 65. When applying as a household, the programs will count both the earned and unearned income of you and your spouse. To see if you are eligible for any of these programs as a household, complete the Bridge to Benefits screening tool and count the children in your care as if they are your own children. If you apply just for the child(ren) in your care (and not for other household members), only the child(ren)’s income (if any) will be counted in determining program eligibility. Usually children in these caregiving situations are eligible for SNAP (formerly Food Support), Medical Assistance and cash assistance programs. 

Note about Child Support Enforcement:  As part of the application process, some of these programs will ask you to comply with Child Support enforcement.  This means you will be asked to supply information on the biological parent(s) of the children you are raising so that the county can seek child support payments from the parents.  If you refuse to supply information, you should understand that the county will still pursue the biological parents for child support.  In addition, by refusing to supply information, you and your spouse can be denied program coverage even though you may be otherwise eligible.  The children in your household, however, can never be denied coverage because of your refusal to comply with Child Support enforcement.  If you have “just cause” for refusing to comply with Child Support enforcement (such as you fear for your safety or the safety of the children in your care), you can ask for and fill out a “just cause” form.

The following information about each of the programs on the Bridge to Benefits screening tool may help you better understand how you and the children in your care are eligible for programs.

Medical Assistance:  1) You can apply as a household to receive health care coverage for the adults and children in your household.  You count the children in your care as if they are your own.  Your and your spouse’s income will be counted to determine your eligibility.  2) You can apply for just the children in your care so that only the children receive health care benefits. Only the children’s income (if any) will be counted. 

MinnesotaCare and Advanced Premium Tax Credits: If you claim the children in your care as tax dependents, you can receive an eligibility determination for MinnesotaCare and the Advanced Premium Tax Credits.  Both of these programs look at tax households (who you claim on your tax return) to determine household size and your and your spouse’s (if you are married) income will be counted in determining eligibility.  In most cases, children are not eligible for MinnesotaCare (they will be eligible for Medical Assistance) but the adult caregivers can be eligible for this program based on household size and income.  For the Advanced Premium Tax Credits, the entire family can be eligible.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support)  1) You can apply as a household and count the children in your care as your own.  You will receive a larger SNAP benefit as a household.  Your and your spouse’s income will be counted.  2) You can apply for just the children in your care and only the children’s income (if any) will be counted.  The benefit amount will be calculated for just the children.

Child Care Assistance Program:  You can apply for assistance to help cover the cost of providing child care for the children in your care.  All household income, including your and your spouse’s income will be used in determining eligibility.

Earned Income Tax Credit:  If you and/or your spouse are working, you can claim the children in your care when you file your taxes.  Depending on how much you earn, you may qualify for both the Earned Income Tax Credit and Working Family Credit.  The children you claim must live with you for at least six months of the year and be under the age of 19 or 24 if they are full-time students.

WIC:  You can apply for WIC benefits for the children in your care who are under the age of 5.  You will be asked to provide income information for everyone in your household. 

Energy Assistance Program:  This program asks for information, including income, for everyone living in the household regardless of their relationship.  You should list the children you are caring for as members of your household on the Energy Assistance application.

School Meal Program:  You may apply for this program for the child(ren) in your care by counting them as part of your household.  You should provide income information for both you and your spouse.

If I am under the age of 18 and don’t live with my parent(s) or guardian(s), am I eligible for any programs on my own?

Yes, youth under age 21 who are not living with a parent or guardian may be eligible on their own for several programs. Independent youth can use the Bridge to Benefits screening tool on their own to determine potential eligibility. You can fill out program applications independently, but you will need to provide personal information and an address where you can receive program notices. If you are a pregnant or parenting teen and are living on your own you can apply independently for programs for you and your children, and you should use the Bridge to Benefits screening tool to determine if you and your child may be eligible to receive WIC and Child Care Assistance as well as the following programs.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support:  Youth who are not living with a parent or guardian may be eligible on their own to receive SNAP. You may apply as a household of one. Your parents’ income does not count if you are not living with them. If you live in a shelter, you must provide a letter from an employee at the shelter stating that you live there.

In addition, you must meet the general requirements to receive SNAP including being a US citizen or an eligible qualified noncitizen. Most people will need a Social Security number and you must provide identification, however, you cannot be turned down for SNAP for not having a photo ID. Other proofs of identity that work are an ID from work, a school badge, a health benefit card, an ID from another social service agency, your pay stub or birth certificate.

You can apply for SNAP in person at your county office, by completing a paper application and sending it to your county, or completing the online application found at ApplyMN. To download a paper application, click here. To find out where in your county to go to apply or send your application, and who can help you with the application, go to the Program Directory.

Once enrolled in SNAP you will have to report any changes about your address, income, or number of people living with you by calling your county within 10 days. If you have money from work (earned income), you have to fill out a report that comes in the mail every six months. You have to mail it back with proof of income, like check stubs. If you do not have money from work (no earned income), you will only have to do paperwork every 12 months.

Medical Assistance (MA): Youth who are not living with a parent or guardian may be eligible independently for MA. You may apply as a household of one. Your parents’ income does not count if you are not living with them.

To receive MA you must meet the general requirements for MA, including the income and citizenship guidelines. Noncitizen children who don’t have an acceptable immigration status are not eligible for MA, but may be eligible for Emergency MA if they are in need of emergency health services. You can apply for MA through MnSure.

Once enrolled in MA you will have to report any changes about your address, income, or number of people living with you through MnSure or by calling your county within 10 days of the change.  You will need to renew, once a year.

Energy Assistance Program: The Energy Assistance Program helps people pay their energy bills in the colder months (October to May). The application asks for information on all members of the household, regardless of age or relationship. You can apply as a household of one if you live by yourself and pay your own energy costs. You can apply through the mail or in person. To download an application click here. To find out where in your county to apply or send your application, go to the Program Directory.

School Meal Program: The School Meal Program application asks for income information on all adults in the household. You can apply on your own, but you may need to supply the date you began living away from your parent(s) or guardian(s) and a signature from your school district’s homeless liaison.  You must turn your application in at your school. To download an application click here.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)/Working Family Credit (WFC): You must be at least 25 years old or have at least one child to be eligible for the EITC and WFC. To apply you must file your taxes and have some earned income in the past year. For a list of free tax preparation sites in Minnesota click here.

 

 

How does Minnesota residency affect my eligibility for these programs?

Medical Assistance/MinnesotaCare/Advanced Premium Tax Credits: You must live or plan to stay in Minnesota.

Energy Assistance Program: You must be a resident of the county in which you are applying for assistance.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support): You do not need to be a Minnesota resident to apply. However, we recommend that you apply in the county you live in.

School Meal Program: Minnesota residency is not required if your child is enrolled in a Minnesota school.

Child Care Assistance Programs: Your family must live in Minnesota before you can receive assistance or be placed on a waiting list.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): There are no Minnesota residency requirements for the EITC. However, you must have lived in the U.S. the entire tax year to claim the EITC.

Working Family Credit: Part-year residents and nonresidents multiply their credit by the percentage of income assignable to Minnesota.

WIC: You must be a Minnesota resident.

How does my immigration status affect my eligibility for these programs?

Medical Assistance/MinnesotaCare/Advanced Premium Tax Credits:  You must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status to be eligible for Minnesota’s health care programs. In order to use MnSure to apply for one of these programs, a Social Security Number or the numbers off immigration documents are required for all adults and children who are applying for coverage. You do not need to provide copies of Social Security cards or immigration documents unless requested. Parents without acceptable immigration status can apply for their children as long as the children are U.S. citizens or have acceptable immigration status. Also, if only some people in your household have acceptable immigration status, you can apply just for them. You, of course, must also meet the income and other eligibility criteria in order to enroll. For Medical Assistance, immigrants must meet the five-year rule to be eligible (they need to have lawfully resided in the U.S. for five years). Pregnant women, however, do not have to supply immigration information to receive coverage. Also, if you are receiving care or services from the Center for Victims of Torture, you are eligible for MA regardless of your immigration status or income. For MinnesotaCare, you need to be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status to be eligible. However, you do not have to meet the five-year rule.  Children and adults who are found ineligible for Medical Assistance due to the five-year rule can enroll in MinnesotaCare.

Energy Assistance Program:?You do not need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status for everyone in your household. You will be asked on the applications to provide a Social Security Number for at least one household member.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (formerly Food Support):?You must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. However, if only some people in your household have acceptable immigration status, you can apply just for them. Most people will need a Social Security Number (or proof of application if the number is pending) to apply. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are under the age of 18, or have been a lawful U.S. resident for more than 5 years, or are a refugee or asylee, you do NOT need a Social Security Number.

School Meal Program:?A parent's or child's immigration status does not matter as long as the child is enrolled in a Minnesota school.

Child Care Assistance Programs (CCAP):?Children for whom you are applying for CCAP must be U.S. citizens or have an acceptable immigration status. Parents or other caregivers do not have to be U.S. citizens or have an acceptable immigration status but they do need to provide proof of identity (driver's license, state identification card, passport, school identification card or birth certificate) and provide proof of residence (one of the items listed above or a copy of a recent utility bill, rental lease or mortgage document).??Also, you will be asked to provide Social Security Numbers on the application. You are not required to provide Social Security Numbers and it will not impact your ability to get any benefits if you do not provide them.

Earned Income Tax Credit:

You must either be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for the entire calendar year for which you are filing taxes. The taxpayer, spouse and any qualifying children must all have valid Social Security Numbers that authorize work.

Working Family Credit:

You must have worked in Minnesota for at least part of the year and either be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for the entire calendar year for which you are filing taxes. The taxpayer, spouse and any qualifying children must all have valid Social Security Numbers that authorize work.

Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC):

WIC does not require information about your citizenship status. If you are an immigrant, using WIC services will not affect your ability to become a U.S. citizen.

Who is an eligible caregiver for Child Care Assistance Programs?

Eligible caregivers include:

•   The biological mother or father of the child

•   An adult who is not the biological parent but married to either the mother or father

•   A legal guardian and his/her spouse

•   Unmarried parents living in the same household with a child in common

If an adult is living with one of the child’s parents but not married to that parent and is not the biological father or mother of the child, he or she is NOT an eligible caregiver. Grandparents, boyfriends and girlfriends as well as other adult relatives who do not have a parental relationship with the child needing care are also NOT eligible caregivers. ??If you have questions about who is an eligible caregiver within your household, contact a county worker from the Child Care Assistance Program.

What if all eligible caregivers in my household are NOT employed 20 hours or more per week? Can I still get Child Care Assistance?

Yes. If you are a full-time student, you must work at least an average of 10 hours per week to be eligible for Child Care Assistance. CCAP can also pay for 240 hours of child care (in a year) for parents to look for work. Contact your county worker to discuss exceptions that may apply to your family and your family’s eligibility status.

Can I get the money from my EITC before tax season?

No. The Advance EITC (AEITC) program was eliminated as of December 31, 2010. You can only receive your EITC refund in full after you file your taxes.

Will receiving money from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) affect my eligibility for other programs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 that went into effect in December 2010 made the following restrictions to how refundable tax credits, including the EITC and WFC, can be considered when determining eligibility for federally-funded public programs, which includes all programs on this site:

•   Refundable tax credits are not counted as income in determining eligibility or the amount of benefit for any federally-funded public benefit program.

•   Refundable tax credits cannot be counted as an asset for up to 12 months in determining eligibility for any federally-funded public benefit program.

•   Money placed in an Individual Development Account (IDA) is never counted toward asset limits. If you are interested in learning about opening an IDA savings account through the FAIM program, click here.

 

This means that receiving a tax refund will not affect a person who is already enrolled in public programs eligibility or benefit amount(s), and if they save their refund it won’t be counted toward initial program eligibility asset tests for 12 months.

If I have or can get health insurance through my employer or another source, will I still qualify for public health insurance?

If you can receive health insurance through your employer or another source and it is determined to be minimal essential coverage (as defined under the Affordable Care Act) you will NOT be eligible for MinnesotaCare or the Advanced Premium Tax Credits. This other insurance rule does not apply to Medical Assistance.

Is there a waiting list for any programs on this site?

If your family is eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program, you may be added to a waiting list if the county you live in has one. To find out if your county has a waiting list, click here to find waiting lists by county on the Department of Human Services' website.

Do I have to file my taxes to be eligible for any of these public work support programs?

You must file taxes to be eligible for MinnesotaCare, the Advanced Premium Tax Credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Working Family Credit (WFC).  In addition, if you are married you must file your taxes jointly with your spouse to qualify for MinnesotaCare and the Advanced Premium Tax Credits.  Your household size for these programs are based on whom you claim as dependents.

Filing taxes is not a requirement for Medical Assistance, SNAP, Energy Assistance, Child Care Assistance, School Meal Program or WIC.  However, for tax filers, Medical Assistance will determine your household size based on whom you claim as dependents.  For non-tax filers, only those people who live in the household will be counted.

What is MAGI and what programs look at income using this determination?

MAGI stands for Modified Adjusted Gross Income and only the health care programs (Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare and the Advanced Premium Tax Credits) use this formula to determine income. MAGI allows certain deductions from gross annual income for things such as self-employed expenses, student loan interest, tuition and fees, educator expenses, IRA deductions, moving expenses, penalties on early withdrawals, health savings deductions, alimony paid, and other similar deductions.  MAGI is found on Line 37 of IRS Form 1040.