The economic landscape of New Mexico is making it more difficult for lower income families to make ends meet.
Given their meager earnings, it is even much harder for single mothers to cope day-to-day, financially — despite working more hours.
To help improve the lives of its most vulnerable residents, the state of New Mexico has adopted several key programs that seek to address their most basic needs.
The primary aim is to encourage self-sufficiency so that they can provide for the family on their own.
New Mexico Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC)
Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is the state’s equivalent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that helps put money back in the pockets of hard working New Mexicans.
The New Mexico’s refundable credit is now worth 17% over and above the allowable credit you get from the federal government, up from 10% previously. 1
That’s additional $170 for every $1,000 you claim on your federal tax return. For example, if you’re eligible to receive $3,300 from the federal government, the state will send you a check of $560.
New Mexico Works (NM Works) — New Mexico’s version of TANF, is the essential part of the safety net for very low-income families in New Mexico. It provides time-limited cash assistance to families who qualify.
While cash benefits are meager — about $447 per month for a family of three, 2 NM Works provides the much needed assistance for thousands of New Mexicans each month.
With a few exceptions, NM Works recipients must spend 20 to 30 hours per week in activities to help them get work skills that will allow them to leave the program for suitable jobs.
Application for all public assistance in New Mexico can be done online via Yes! New Mexico — the official portal for people in New Mexico to apply, renew & check benefits at the comfort of their home.
SNAP, previously called “food stamps”, helps low-income families in New Mexico to afford healthy foods. A low-income family is defined as one whose income is no more than 185% of the federal poverty level.
The amount of monthly SNAP benefits vary depending on size of the family, income, and expenses. The average household with children received about $382 a month in New Mexico. 3
For more information about SNAP, call
WIC helps low-income families with checks or vouchers to buy healthy supplemental foods from WIC-authorized vendors. It also provides nutrition education, and help finding health and dental care and other community services.
In New Mexico, WIC serves women, infants, and children whose income is at or below 185% of the federally poverty. Priority is given to women and children with the most serious health risks.
There are over 110 WIC sites throughout New Mexico. Call the Family Health Bureau’s WIC number at 505-476-8800 to find a site nearest you and set up an appointment.
Centennial Care, the new name for Medicaid in New Mexico, is the largest program providing medical and health-related services to state’s poorest residents — including children from low-income families and pregnant women.
As New Mexico is expanding Medicaid coverage, nearly all uninsured adults age 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) may now gain coverage under ACA.
Families who do not qualify for Centennial Care may be eligible to receive cost-saving subsidies that can immediately help pay for health insurance premiums in a Marketplace.
To apply for Centennial Care online, visit Yes! New Mexico and create an account if you don’t already have one or call 1-855-637-6574 to complete an application by phone.
New MexiKids and New MexiTeens are no cost or low cost health coverage for children and young adults under age 19. New MexiKids for children 0 – 12 and New MexiTeens for teens ages 13 – 19.
Coverage for both programs helps pay for regular check-ups, doctor visits, dental visits, hospital care, prescriptions, glasses, hearing and vision exams, among others.
Both programs are open to children from families whose household income is 240% or less of the federal poverty level (FPL) or less than 300% for children age below 5.
New Mexico CCAP provides childcare assitance for eligible families who meet the income eligibility requirements. In general, it covers families with income not exceeding 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
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.
For more information on Child Care Assistance, contact your regional Child Care Assistance office, 4 or call Jolyne Vigil at (505) 827-7499 or 1-800-832-1321.
Due to state budget shortfalls, there is a waiting list in place for all families with an income between 100% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists eligible New Mexico residents and families with their heating and cooling costs.
Applicants must qualify as low-income according to the guidelines set by LIHEAP; that is at or below 150% of federal poverty level. Priority is given to those who are truly vulnerable — the lowest-income households with the highest heating costs.
In addition to the energy assistance benefit, households that are eligible for LIHEAP may also qualify for crisis intervention, and weatherization services.
For additional information on LIHEAP, please call
Unemployment insurance (UI) provides temporary cash benefits to eligible workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. If eligible, you will get about half of your average weekly wage in benefits, up to $511 per week.
As a condition of eligibility, you must search for work each week that you file a claim for benefits. If you fail to do so, you may be denied benefits until you confirm that you are actively looking for a job.
There are two ways to file for unemployment in New Mexico, either electronically at New Mexico Workforce Connection online system or by phone 1-877-664-6984.
College Affordability Grant is in place to encourage New Mexico students with financial need, who do not qualify for other state grants and scholarships, to pursue higher education at New Mexico public colleges or universities.
Maximum of $1,500 per semester depending on financial need, but can be renewed for up to eight semesters (four years). Funding is limited, so applying early is key!References
- On April 4, 2019, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation to increase the WFTC, from 10 to 17 percent of the federal credit as part of a broader tax package.
- Eligibility Guidelines for SNAP and TANF
- Kaiser Family Foundation, Average Monthly Food Stamp Benefits Per Person
- Child Care Services Bureau Offices