Hawaii



  • $610
    Monthly Cash Benefit
  • $721
    Monthly SNAP Benefit
  • $551
    Maximum Weekly Benefit
  • 133%
    Income Eligibility

Although considered as a tropical paradise, Hawaii also has its share of social concerns such as the plight of single mothers.

This is one facet of Hawaii which shows that not everyone here is living their dreams. Part of the reason for this is that Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the country.

The state of Hawaii addresses this concern by extending financial help to lower income single mothers “trapped” in poverty by low-paying jobs.

It offers several assistance programs that address their most basic needs while they work toward becoming self-sufficient.


$Hawaii Earned Income Tax Credit (HI-EITC)


Hawaii would soon enact a state-level EITC equal to 20% of the federal credit. Once officially enacted, Hawaii will join 28 other states and the District of Columbia in using EITCs to help working families meet their basic needs.

The Hawaiian credit, however, includes three unusual provisions that will limit the credit’s usefulness to low-income families.1 First, the credit would be non-refundable, meaning that a credit in excess of payable tax cannot be redeemed for cash.

Second, Hawaii taxpayers could claim the credit only after all of the state’s existing refundable credits have been applied. And third, the credit would expire after tax year 2022.


1Hawaii Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)


The Hawaii TANF provides temporary assistance to financially needy families with children. It is designed to help low-income Hawaiian families become self-supporting.

In order to qualify for TANF benefits, you must be responsible for a child under 19 years of age with a total gross income under 185% of the poverty level. Pregnant women are also eligible during her 9-month pregnancy.

As a condition of eligibility, all work-ready participants are required to participate in Hawaii’s First-To-Work Program (FTW) for a specified number of hours per week, unless otherwise exempt.

How much do you get on welfare in Hawaii?


Adults without minor dependents ages 18-64 who are temporarily disabled and who do not qualify for public assistance may apply for Hawaii’s General Assistance.


2Hawaii Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)


Hawaii has some of the most expensive food in the nation. The Hawaii SNAP helps put healthy food within reach for low income Hawaiian by providing monthly cash benefits.

Priority is granted to lower income families on public assistance, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The state allows people who earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level to access SNAP benefits.

In Hawaii, SNAP benefits are distributed through the state’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system which can be used at any grocery store and for services like meals-on-wheels.


Those who have less than $150 per month in income and $100 or less in cash may apply for Emergency SNAP and have their first benefits within 7 days.


3Hawaii QUEST


As Hawaii is expanding Medicaid coverage, many previously uninsured Hawaiians age 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) may now gain coverage.



In Hawaii, children with family incomes up to 308% of poverty or about $72,3002 for a single mother of two are eligible for Med-Quest as well as pregnant women earning less than 191% FPL.

Hawaii is operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as Hawaii Health Connector — through which you can apply for Med-QUEST or other private health insurance.


4Hawaii Special Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)


WIC is a federally funded program which provides Hawaii residents with nourishing supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and health and social service referrals.

It serves pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and infants and children up to age 5 who meet WIC eligibility guidelines; and are considered to be “at nutritional risk”.

To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state of Hawaii with income not exceeding 185% of the federal poverty guidelines OR already receive TANF, SNAP or QUEST.

How to apply for WIC in Hawaii?
Call the Hawaii WIC local agencies program nearest you to make an appointment or call 586-8175 (Oahu) for help. On the Neighbor Islands, call toll-free, 1-888-820-6425.


5Child Care Connection Hawaii (CCCH)


The Child Care Connection Hawaii (CCCH) provides childcare subsidy for eligible families who meet the income eligibility requirements. In general, the family’s income may not exceed 85% of the State Median Income for the family size.

The subsidy amount varies based on the your gross monthly income, family size, and type and cost of care AND since it is a subsidy, you may be required to pay for some of the child care costs.

The Preschool Open Doors (POD) program is a separate subsidy program for eligible families with children in the year prior to kindergarten entry. However, funding for POD is limited.


6Hawaii Section 8


Through Section 8 Program, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority helps provide Hawai`i residents with affordable housing and shelter without discrimination.

The federally funded Section 8 Program provides for rental subsidies to be paid directly to landlords on behalf of income eligible families — primarily families with very low incomes.


Hawaii’s Section 8 is currently closed and is not accepting any new application. When the waitlist is reopened, there will be newspaper and website announcements.


7Hawaii Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)


Hawaii LIHEAP helps pay home heating costs for low-income households, particularly those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.

To qualify for the LIHEAP program, you must have an income that falls within the program guidelines. Priority is granted to households with the elderly, disabled or a young child under age 5.

Applications are accepted during the month of June only. If eligible, you’ll receive a one-time credit deposited directly into your utility accounts. To apply, contact the state LIHEAP Program Office at 808-586-5734.


The Energy Crisis Intervention (ECI) Program is also available to households in an emergency situation (i.e., shut-off notice, out of fuel, no money to pay for fuel). Eligible households may receive a one-time credit of up to $350.


8Hawaii Unemployment Insurance


Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary financial assistance to workers who become Hawaiians through no fault of their own — for up to 26 weeks.

Hawaii is one of two states in which the average UI payment covers more than half of the state’s average weekly wage. The state pays out an average of $551 each week, one of the most generous in the country.

Effective October 1, 2014, Hawaii’s telephone claim filing will no longer be available. All claims must be filed online. To file a claim, click here.


As a condition of eligibility, you must register for work within 7 calendar days after the date you applied for unemployment benefits and you must post an online resume in HireNet Hawaii, WDD’s internet job matching system.


9Second Century Scholarship


The Second Century Scholarship is a need-based grant provided to Native Hawaiian students pursuing both graduate and undergraduate credit work in any field of study on all 10 campuses of the University of Hawai’i System.

The amount awarded will depend on the student’s financial need as determined by FAFSA and fund availability. Since it’s need-based, you’ll have to submit the FAFSA for consideration.


10GEAR UP Hawai‘i


GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal program funded by the U.S. Department of Education that serves low-income middle and high school students in public schools throughout the state.

GEAR UP Hawaii serves over 16,000 public school students in grades 7 to 12 through the first year in college across the State of Hawaii each year.

Lesli Yogi
Business and Community Outreach Specialist
1-866-808-4327 (GEAR)


  1. Tax Justice Blog, EITC Victories Await in Both Hawaii and Montana
  2. As of 2017, 100% of the FPL for a family of four is equal to $30,750 in Alaska and $28,290 in Hawaii, compared to $24,600 in the other 48 states.