How to Apply for Welfare

by Contributor

Welfare programs can help individuals and families in times of crisis. The application process is basic, but it requires time and energy.

Call your local Employment and Human Services office, listed in the government pages of your phone book. (In some places, you will need to look up "Social Services" or just "Human Services.")

Set an appointment to meet with a case worker and attend an orientation.

Discuss the various welfare programs with your case worker. Decide which programs you need.

Ask for emergency assistance if you are homeless.

Get a list of things you need to gather for the next appointment.

Apply for any documents or statements you lack.

Take the appropriate information with you to your appointment. The case worker will let you know if more information is needed.

Ask for a time frame on the results of your application.

Call your case worker with questions or concerns.


  • The application process varies from office to office. Follow the directions you are given.
  • Start gathering information right away - identification, birth certificates for everyone in the family, marriage and divorce certificates, bank statements, life insurance statements, pay stubs, Social Security cards, health insurance cards and tax records.
  • Prepare to fill out a mound of forms. You will need to fill out different forms for each program.
  • Ask for help if you have problems with the forms. Translators may also be available.
  • Realize that welfare does not last forever. "Welfare to Work" policies require you to work towards employment.


  • Present all information honestly. Welfare fraud is a serious crime.