MFIP gives money to families who don't have enough to pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and rent. MFIP defines a family as one or two parents living with their child or children under 18. The age limit is 19 for children who are in school full time. A family could include biological kids, step kids, adopted kids, and children of relatives.
To figure out whether or not you're eligible for MFIP, the state looks at your income and assets.
Assets are things you own. Common examples of assets are:
- Checking accounts
- Savings accounts
To qualify for MFIP, your assets have to be worth less than the program's $10,000 asset limit.
There are some things that the state realizes you can’t use to pay for basic needs. The state doesn't include these things when they count your assets. Some of the assets that don't count are:
- The home your family lives in and any other real property;
- Personal goods like furniture, clothing, jewelry, appliances, and tools;
- The value of one car per family member who is 16 or older. (If you have more cars than that, they will be counted as assets.)
- Assets in a tax-free ABLE account. Learn more about ABLE accounts.
The state also looks at how much money you get from work, benefits, or other sources. This money is called income. Income affects MFIP in two ways:
- There’s a limit to how much income you can have and still qualify for MFIP, and
- If you qualify for MFIP, your income may affect the amount you get in benefits.
Not All of Your Income Counts
However, MFIP doesn't count all of your income:
MFIP will count less than half of your earned income
- First, they subtract $65 from your total earned income.
Then, they divide the rest of your earned income by two. What's left is what they count.
- Example: If you make $1,000 each month at a job, only $468 are counted by the MFIP program.
MFIP won't count:
- Money that you spend on the needs of people in your household who can’t get MFIP
- Money that you spend to take care of a child or a household member with a disability while you’re working, and
- Money that you spend on child or spousal support.
How MFIP Determines Your Benefit Amount
The rules for how MFIP figures out your benefit are complicated. Your benefit amount depends on:
- Your household size
- Whether or not you have income
- Whether your income is earned, unearned, or both
- Whether or not the household members are related
The more income you have, the lower your MFIP benefit will be. But when you add up your earnings and MFIP benefit, you’ll always have more money overall when you work.
For example, for a family of four:
Your earnings will be:
Your total MFIP benefit will be:
Your total income (earnings + MFIP) will be:
When you aren’t working at all
When you work 30 hours a week at $9.00 per hour
When your income is over the MFIP limit
$2,720 or higher
$2,720 or higher
Your county worker can show you examples for your family size.
Many families who get MFIP benefits also get $110 each month to help pay for housing. Learn more about MFIP Housing Assistance and Talk to an Expert if your family gets MFIP to see if you qualify for this additional help.
Apply for MFIP online with ApplyMN. You may also fill out a Combined Application Form and turn it in to your county human services agency. After you turn it in, you’ll be interviewed. You should get a decision within 30 days after you apply.
Starting on MFIP
When you are approved for MFIP, you’ll get a notice telling you when your benefits will begin and the amount you’ll get. There will be an orientation that you have to attend.
Diversionary Work Program
Most people have to go through four months of a Diversionary Work Program before they start to get MFIP benefits. The goal of the program is to help low-income Minnesotans find a job.
If you qualify for the program, you will get monthly payments from MFIP. Part of the money is for things like rent and clothing. This is called the cash benefit. The other part of the money is for food.
- Through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card
- Through direct deposit to a bank account
- Through a check from the State of Minnesota
Finding a Job
In addition to giving you cash benefits, MFIP will also help you with finding a job. Once you're enrolled in MFIP, you''ll meet with an employment counselor and come up with an Employment Plan. The Employment Plan includes:
- Your employment goals
- The things you need to do to reach those goals
- Job search ideas
- A statement saying that you will be able to take an appropriate job when it’s offered
- Information about the help you'll get from the employment counselor
In most cases, you can be on MFIP for a total of 60 months. In some situations, that time limit may be extended. After MFIP ends, you can get help paying for food from SNAP if you need it.
The Work Benefit Program provides a monthly cash grant incentive of $50 to employed families for up to 24 consecutive months after exiting the MFIP cash and food portions, or the Diversionary Work Program.
For more details, see the DHS brochure on MFIP and Time Limits.
There are a few MFIP rules specific to families with people with disabilities:
- People with disabilities don’t have to participate in the Diversionary Work Program.
- If you have a disability and apply for MFIP, you also have to apply for SSI (the Department of Human Services has people who can help you apply for SSI).
- You can’t be on both SSI and MFIP at the same time.
- When counting your assets, MFIP does not include the car used to transport a person with a physical disability.
- If you have a disability or are taking care of someone with a disability, MFIP's 60-month time limit might be extended.
- Your Employment Plan might have different requirements if you or someone you’re caring for has a disability.