North Carolina Work First Family Assistance

Work First Family Assistance is North Carolina’s version of TANF that offers up to 24 months of cash assistance and employment services to very poor families.

This program helps parents support themselves and their families by offering short-term training and other services to increase the chances of employment. Ultimately, the goal is to help all families move to self-sufficiency.

Unless otherwise exempt, most families receiving benefit payments are subject to mandatory work requirements of at least 35 hours per week in appropriate work activities.


Who qualifies for Work First in NC? #

To qualify for Work First in NC, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
  2. Live in North Carolina.
  3. Be pregnant or have a child under age 19.
  4. Be unemployed or under employed (working for very low wages).
  5. Meet income limit based on the need standard shown below.

What is the income limit for Work First in NC? #

In North Carolina, a family is considered “needy” when their countable income is less than $544 a month for a family of three. The limit for countable resources is $3,000.

  • Family Size Income Limit
  • 1 $362
  • 2 $472
  • 3 $544
  • 4 $594
  • 5 $648
  • 6 $698
  • 7 $746
  • 8 $772

How much does Work First pay in NC? #

How much is Work First payment in NC largely depends upon your family’s size and countable income. North Carolina pays a maximum of $272 a month to a family of three with little or no income. 1

  • Family Size Benefit Payment
  • 1 $181
  • 2 $236
  • 3 $272
  • 4 $297
  • 5 $324
  • 6 $349
  • 7 $373
  • 8 $386

How do I apply for cash assistance in NC? #

Applications for cash assistance through Work First can be made in person at a local Departments of Social Services in the county in which you reside.

All applications will be screened, evaluated for eligibility, and processed, usually within forty-five (45) days.

To set up an appointment, please call

What is benefit diversion in NC? #

Families who are experiencing a temporary crisis associated with employment may apply for Benefit Diversion as an alternative to traditional cash assistance.

Eligible families may receive a one-time lump-sum payment equal to a maximum of three (3) months of Work First benefits.

Referrals are also made to Medicaid, child support, child care assistance and other community and agency resources.


  1. The Work First monthly payment is 50% of the difference between the total countable income and the need standard based on the number of eligible family members.
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