The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) administers several programs aimed at helping low-income Montanans move out of poverty and become self-sufficient. These include:
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Healthy Montana Kids (HMK and HMK Plus)
- Health Care Coverage under the Affordable Care Act
- Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
- Child Care Assistance
- Energy Assistance
SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, provides supplemental food assistance to low-income Montanans to improve their nutrition, health, and wellbeing. The program plays a vital role in Montana’s safety net for low-income people. It’s an economic stimulus – every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates nearly twice as much ($9.20) in total community spending. Benefits are distributed electronically using an “Electronic Benefit Transfer” (EBT) card, which functions like a debit card. Among other requirements, applicants must meet income criteria, be United States citizens or legal aliens intending to live in Montana, and provide a Social Security number.
TANF provides temporary financial assistance to needy families. A household may receive TANF benefits for no more than 60 months. Those who may be eligible for TANF benefits include:
- Minor children;
- Certain relatives with whom minor children are living, including siblings;
- Women in their last trimester of pregnancy who have no other eligible children; or
- Refugees with minor dependent children.
Among other requirements, applicants must meet income and resource criteria, be citizens or legal aliens intending to live in Montana, and provide a Social Security number.
Montana Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that pays for a broad range of medically necessary health care and long-term care for eligible low-income Montanans.
To be eligible for Medicaid, you must meet financial requirements that take into account income and resources, be a Montana resident and a U.S. citizen (or qualified non-citizen), and you must fall into one of the following groups:
- Families with dependent children
- Pregnant women
- Children under age 19
- Women with breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancer
- People 65 and over
- People who are disabled (based on Social Security standards)
- Former foster care children age 18 up to 26
The Healthy Montana Kids Plan includes two health care coverage groups for children. It is a free or low-cost health coverage plan for eligible Montana children and teenagers up to age 19. There is no resource test for either coverage group.
- Healthy Montana Kids Plus coverage group(formerly children’s Medicaid) and
- Healthy Montana Kids coverage group (formerly CHIP)
To be eligible a child must:
- Be a Montana resident and U.S. citizen or qualified alien;
- Meet income guidelines
The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance in 2014. The federal Health Insurance Marketplace has information on how to apply, estimates of costs and savings, and details of plans and prices.
To apply for Health Coverage Assistance under the Affordable Care Act, visit the Marketplace at https://www.healthcare.gov/or call 1-800-318-2596.
The goal of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is to give children the best possible start in life by ensuring that they get proper nutrition both in utero and during their preschool years. The program provides nutritious foods, formula for mothers who choose not to breastfeed, and nutrition education to improve eating behavior.
To qualify for WIC, you must be either 1) a woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or recently had a baby, or 2) a child up to age 5. Applicants must meet income guidelines, and a health professional must consider their health to be at risk.
The department offers "Best Beginnings" child care scholarships to qualified low-income families. Families participate in the cost of that care by making a copayment based on income.
Scholarships are available to low-income working families and families who get cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
DPHHS offers two programs aimed at helping low-income renters and homeowners reduce heating costs.
The Weatherization Program helps participants improve the heating efficiency of their homes and thus reduce their energy consumption. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) pays part of winter energy bills for eligible people. Most utilities offer discounts to LIEAP recipients.
Eligibility for both programs is based on income and assets.
Apply for energy assistance at your local Human Resources Development Council. Applications for weatherization assistance are accepted year-round. Applications for fuel assistance must be submitted October 1-April 30.More about energy assistance