North Carolina



  • $272
    Monthly Cash Benefit
  • $387
    Monthly SNAP Benefit
  • $350
    Maximum Weekly Benefit
  • 39%
    Income Eligibility

North Carolina’s economy isn’t working for everyone, and for some it’s downright broken. Across the state, 1.6 million North Carolinians live in poverty.1

The poorest of the poor in “The Old North State” are the ones who are being hurt the most — notably single mothers and their families.

Recognizing its inherent duty, the state of North Carolina is pooling its resources together to offer the necessary assistance.

From food and cash to child care and medical benefits, the state aims to help meet their basic needs while they work toward becoming self-sufficient.


1North Carolina Work First Family Assistance


Work First is North Carolina’s TANF that offers up to 24 months of temporary cash assistance and employment services to very poor families. Ultimately, North Carolina’s goal is to help all families move to self-sufficiency.

As a condition of eligibility, you are required to register for the First Stop Employment Assistance Program with the Employment Security Commission, unless there is a good cause.

Applications for the Work First Family Assistance can be made at your local Departments of Social Services in the county in which you reside.


2North Carolina Benefit Diversion


Benefit Diversion is an alternative to traditional cash assistance and helps families who are experiencing a temporary crisis associated with employment or other sources of financial stability.

A one-time lump-sum payment equal to a maximum of three (3) months worth of Work First Family Assistance benefits will be given to neediest families in North Carolina.

Families who are experiencing financial emergency may be eligible for Emergency Assistance to pay for housing, utilities, food, gas, and/or medicine — limited to $200 per twelve-month period.


3North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services


The Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is an entitlement program that helps eligible North Carolinians purchase the food they need for a nutritionally adequate and well-balanced diet.

Families are issued an EBT card and pay for their groceries at any USDA authorized retailer by using the card, which works like a debit card, at the checkout counter.

North Carolina residents can use an online tool called ePASS to submit application or screen themselves for potential eligibility for Food and Nutrition Services.2


Elderly age 65 or older who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be eligible for Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), a simplified version of Regular Food and Nutrition Services (FNS).


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


The WIC program provides a combination of nutrition education, supplemental foods, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals for health care, at no cost.

WIC is available to pregnant, breast feeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5 whose family income is less than 185% of the poverty level; and are considered to be “at nutritional risk”.

Families receiving Medicaid, Work First Families Assistance (TANF), or assistance from the NC Food and Nutrition Services automatically meets the income eligibility requirement.


5North Carolina Medicaid


Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals and families who cannot afford health care costs. It serves low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

North Carolina is not participating in Medicaid expansion — as a result, many uninsured adults in the state who would have been newly-eligible for Medicaid will remain ineligible for coverage.

In North Carolina, Medicaid eligibility for non-disabled adults is limited to parents with incomes below 39% of poverty, or about $9,000 a year for a single mother of two.3


Applications may be submitted online through ePASS — North Carolina’s web-based self service tool that allows you to submit a Medicaid/NCHC application online.4


6North Carolina Health Choice for Children


North Carolina Health Choice (NCHC) for Children is a free or low-cost comprehensive health care program for children whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford rising health insurance premiums.4

Coverage includes sick visits, checkups, hospital care, prescriptions, eye exams and glasses, dental care, hearing exams and hearing aids; and other related services.

Unlike Medicaid, NC Health Choice is limited by the availability of funds and is open only to children on a first come, first serve basis. When funds are depleted, children will be placed on a waiting list.


7North Carolina Child Care Subsidy Program


North Carolina’s Subsidized Child Care Program provides child care assistance for income-eligible families who need help paying for child care through a voucher program.

Most families, including those receiving Work First Family Assistance, are required to pay a percentage of their child care costs based upon their gross monthly income — usually no more than 10%, if applicable.

Funding for this program is limited, parents requesting financial assistance for child care are often placed on a waiting list until more funding becomes available.


8North Carolina Section 8 Program


The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is designed to assist very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market.

The program covers families with income up to 50% of the median income level but priority is given to families with 30% or below who are considered extremely low income.

Available areas include the counties of Granville, Hoke, Person, Sampson and Warren. Rent assistance is also provided on a limited basis to eligible families in Halifax and Columbus counties.

For additional information about the program, please call

David Grigsby
Program Director
919-807-4440


9North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)


The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a federally-funded program that provides for a one-time payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills.

In North Carolina, only disabled persons receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) or households in which one of the members is 60 or older are eligible to receive LIEAP benefits.

Applications run from December 1 through January 31 or until funds are exhausted. Contact your local Department of Social Services5 for the application dates and for additional information on LIEAP.


10North Carolina Unemployment Insurance


Unemployment Insurance is a state-operated insurance program designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work. In North Carolina, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $350.

Those who file for a new claim may only be entitled to up to 14 weeks of unemployment benefits, the fewest in the nation and are required by the state law to register for work at www.NCWorks.gov.6

The fastest and most efficient way to file a new claim is to file online. If you don’t have access to an internet, you may file over the phone by calling 1-877-841-9617.


11North Carolina College Grant Program


Funded by the State of North Carolina, these grants are made available to North Carolina residents who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled (at least half-time) at North Carolina community colleges.

Eligibility is based on their estimated family contribution (EFC) as determined by FAFSA. Full-time students whose federal EFC ranges from $1301 to $8,500 will receive awards on a sliding scale, subject to fund availability.7


  1. The NC Justice Center, The Budget and Tax Center
  2. How do I apply for food stamps online in North Carolina?
  3. What is the maximum income to qualify for Medicaid in North Carolina?
  4. How do I apply for North Carolina Health Choice?
  5. NC Local County Department of Social Services (DSS) Offices
  6. NCWorks Online is a one-stop online resource for job seekers and employers in North Carolina.
  7. 2013-2014 NC Community College Grant Program Payment Schedule