Gesher Cleveland
Cash Assistance

Ohio Works First Assistance

Ohio Works First provides temporary cash assistance to eligible families for up to 36 months.

If you have any questions or are having trouble applying online or printing the application, please call us at 216-862-4599. We’re here to help.

Please be aware that over the years the numbers of families in Cuyahoga County receiving cash Assistance has dropped from 27,000 in the 1990s to less than 2000 in 2015.



What is Ohio Works First?

Ohio Works First is the financial assistance portion of the state’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, which provides cash benefits to needy families for up to 36 months.

Who is Eligible?

Families with children that meet a “gross monthly income test” may be eligible.

Gross monthly income includes unearned income – for example, Social Security benefits – and earned income – such as wages before taxes.

Check the chart below to determine if you are income eligible:

Size of Household Annual Income Monthly Income
1 $5,940.00 $495
2 $8,016.00 $668
3 $10,080.00 $840
4 $12,156.00 $1,013
5 $14,220.00 $1,185
6 $16,296.00 $1,358
7 $18,360.00 $1,530
8 $20,436.00 $1,703

If a family member works and pays for child care, the cost of child care may be deducted. Resources such as a car or home ownership are not considered in determining eligibility.

In addition:

  • Minor children living with guardians other than their parents may be eligible for “child-only” assistance, with no time limit.
  • Women who are at least six months pregnant may be eligible for individual assistance.
  • Most adults and minor heads of household must participate in work activities. Allowable work activities include such things as on-the-job training, community service and education directly related to employment.
  • In order to receive benefits, adults and minor heads of household must sign a self-sufficiency contract.
  • Failure to sign the self-sufficiency contract without good cause can result in denial or termination of benefits, which would affect the entire family. The contract explains the participant’s rights and responsibilities and what the county department of job and family services will do to help the participant become self-sufficient.

How Much are Payments?

In 2017, an Ohio Works First payment for a family of three is $474. Benefits are issued through either the Ohio Pathway card, which is a pre-paid debit MasterCard, or deposited directly into a checking or savings account. The Ohio Pathway card can be used at MasterCard member banks, ATMs and any retailers that accept MasterCard.


How Can I Apply for Ohio Works First?

You may apply for Ohio Works First online by going to or by filling out “Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance” (JFS 7200) form and submitting it to your county agency.

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