Tennessee

With the current economic downturn, many families have succumbed to the pressures and fallen below the poverty line. The state of Tennessee stepped in with programs that specifically target the needs of single mother families who are struggling even at the best of times.

$ 277
TANF
$ 414
SNAP
$ 275
JOBLESS
88%
MEDICAID

Tennessee Families First #

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Families First is Tennessee’s welfare program that provides temporary cash benefits to eligible low-income families with children. These benefits are time-limited to 60 months in a participant’s lifetime.

To be eligible for the program, you must agree to follow a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP) which among other things, you agree to work or be in work-related activities for 30 hours a week, unless otherwise exempt.

How do I apply for Family First in TN?

You may apply for Families First benefits at your local Department of Human Services county office or call the Family Assistance Service Center at 1-866-311-4287.

Tennessee Food Stamp Program #

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The Tennessee Food Stamp program provides nutritional assistance benefits to eligible Tennesseans — children, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families.

The aim is to serve as a safety net for families struggling with hunger. In Tennessee, 12.5% of households were “food insecure,” or struggled to put food on the table. 1

If you’re eligible to receive food stamp, you will receive an EBT Card, which allows food stamp benefits to be issued and accessed electronically.

How do I apply for food stamps in TN?


Tennessee to Reinstate Work Requirement for SNAP

Beginning February 1, 2018, able-bodied adults without dependents in most counties will have to put in at least 20 hours per week on a job in order to get SNAP benefits. That requirement was waived in 2008 amid the Great Recession.

Tennessee Special Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) #

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In Tennessee, the WIC program provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutritious education, health care referrals, and breastfeeding support to nearly 165,000 women, infants, and children until the age of 5.

Participants must be a resident of the state of Tennessee, meet WIC income guidelines and be individually determined to be at nutritional or medical risk by a health professional.

If eligible, WIC food benefits are issued into an electronic benefit account, known as TNWIC, in lieu of paper vouchers which can be used at any one of the 800+ participating grocery stores in Tennessee.

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How do I apply for WIC in TN?

Call your local county health department to make an appointment for an interview. For appointments in Shelby County, call 901-222-9980.

Tennessee TennCare #

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TennCare is the State of Tennessee’s Medicaid program that helps low-income individuals and families with children pay for some or all of their medical bills, including pregnant women and single parents who meet the income eligibility requirements.

Eligible participants will receive free medical services such as doctors’ services, dental care, eyeglasses, home care, hospital care, and many other health-related services.

As Tennessee is not expanding Medicaid coverage, eligibility for non-disabled adults will be limited to parents with incomes below 88% of poverty. However, you may still be able to get financial assistance to pay for coverage in the marketplace.

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How do I get Medicaid in Tennessee?

Go to TennCare Connect to apply online or call 855-259-0701 to apply over the phone.

Tennessee CoverKids #

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CoverKids is Tennessee Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that is funded by both the state and the federal government. It covers uninsured children age 18 and younger.

In order to qualify, families must earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level or about $54,900 a year for a single mother of two and meet other eligibility criteria.

In addition to children’s coverage, pregnant women whose income is too high for TennCare may also receive maternity coverage through CoverKids.

Tennessee Child Care Certificate Program #

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Parents participating in the Families First program who need help paying for child care may receive financial assistance with the full cost of child care. No co-pay is required.

Eligibility is based on Families First income guidelines. In general, parents whose incomes not exceeding 233% of the federal poverty level may qualify.

In general, Tennessee is not providing child care assistance to any families or children unless they were families already receiving Families First, the state’s TANF program.

How do I apply for child care assistance in Tennessee?

To apply for the service, contact your local Department of Human Services office to get an appointment for an eligibility interview.

Tennessee Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) #

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Tennessee’s LIHEAP assist eligible low-income Tennessee households in meeting the costs of home heating and cooling; primarily those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.

Income eligible households are those at or below 60% of the State Median Income. Use the chart of household income limits to see if you are eligible.

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How do I apply for LIHEAP in Tennessee?

Application, along with all necessary verification, must be submitted through the designated LIHEAP agency in the applicant’s county of residence. 2

Tennessee Unemployment Insurance #

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Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary jobless benefits to eligible workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages, while they are looking for a new job.

Tennessee claimants receive their benefits via the Tennessee Automated Payment (TAP) debit card or direct deposit. The minimum benefit for those who qualify is $30, up to a maximum of $275 per week.

You can apply for UI benefits either online or by phone by calling one of the following phone numbers listed below:

Nashville
(615) 532-1800

Other Tennessee Areas
(800) 689-9799

Out-of-State Claimant
(800) 262-8094

Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) #

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The Tennessee Student Assistance Award is a state-funded grant program that provides non-repayable financial aid to needy undergraduate students who are enrolled at a public or an eligible non-public postsecondary institution in Tennessee.

Eligibility is based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $3,500 or less. Grant amounts vary from $1,000 to $4,000 and are awarded to the neediest applicants on a first come, first served basis.

To receive priority consideration, you are strongly encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1 each year.

Tennessee Promise Scholarship #

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High school seniors in Tennessee may apply for the Tennessee Promise scholarship, which will provide two years of free tuition attendance at any community or technical college in Tennessee.

Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not met by Pell, HOPE or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award.


  1. CBPP. Tennesse SNAP Fact Sheet.
  2. To find the LIHEAP contact for your county, click on your county on the map.