The State of Minnesota helps low-income families and pregnant women overcome poverty through the Minnesota Family Investment Program, commonly referred to as the MFIP. MFIP helps those who fall under a certain income threshold. The program benefits families through a combination of cash and food subsidies. The program is not designed to be a long-term solution for families. Instead it strives to help families become self-sufficient. Working a part-time job can put women on the road to accomplishing this goal, while reducing the dependency on state assistance. According to the state’s calculations, most enrollees phase out of the program after three years.
Launched in 1998, the Minnesota Family Investment Program assists economically challenged families with children, including single mothers. The biggest beneficiaries of the program are children according to state statistics. The program provides a combination of cash, food stamps and employment assistance. A lifetime limit of 60 months is given to participants in the program, although families can reapply if they meet certain criteria. Acceptance into the program is based on need and current assets. Items such as cars, homes and furniture are not included in the asset basis. The state also looks at income, however not all income is included. The first 43 percent of income does not count in the benefit calculation. Also excluded is money that pays for child care or is used in the care of disabled individuals. This is a benefit to those who may be working part-time and receiving a lower salary. In many cases the income from a part-time job will not be enough to significantly impact the amount of benefits paid.
Working While Receiving MFIP
The MFIP program was created to help put families on the path to self-sufficiency as part of reform of Minnesota's welfare system. Participants are encouraged to work and may be penalized if they fail to comply with work rules. These rules stipulate that individuals must actively engage in looking for work. If they are unemployable due to lack of education or other issues, they must work to overcome the obstacle. Once someone finds work and starts receiving an income, the MFIP payment decreases proportionally. Once an individual reaches a monthly gross income of $2,170 (minus exceptions), her MFIP payments ends.
After MFIP Ends
Although the overall cash benefits decrease once an individual is working, the family is in effect receiving more money. The MFIP program is set up so that getting a job will not mean automatic program suspension. County employees work with participants to show them that with their wages and MFIP there is more money overall than simply just living on MFIP alone. For example a family of four with no parents working would receive a monthly program cash benefit of $1,223. If just one person worked part time earning $7.25 per hour, their income from wages would be $935 combined with a program benefit of $765. This results in a monthly income of $1,700 which is more than just MFIP alone. Even after the cash benefit expires, participants are still eligible for services such as the SNAP food stamp program. An employment program called the Work Benefit Program pays a monthly incentive of $50 for individuals who remain employed after leaving the program. The incentive lasts for 24 months.
If you have a disability, you may want to apply for benefits through Social Security. An individual cannot receive assistance from both programs simultaneously. If you are caring for someone with a disability, the work rules regarding the MFIP program may also be different for you. The 60-month time limit is also negotiable for those caring for the disabled. A waiting period does exist for individuals applying to the program. During this time, participants undergo the Diversionary Work Program before receiving benefits. This is a four-month program that helps qualified adults find jobs. It is important to note that applying for MFIP does not result in immediate funding, so those in dire need may need to find other means of support during this time.
- Disability Benefits 101: MFIP: The Details
- Minnesota Department of Human Services: Facts about Minnesota Family Investment Program
- Minnesota Department of Human Services: History of the Minnesota Family Investment Program
- Minnesota Department of Human Services:What is the Minnesota Family Investment Program?
Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.