Cash and food assistance benefits for low-income Haitians

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Greater Boston Legal Services

Many low-income nationals of Haiti and Cuba qualify for cash and food assistance and health care coverage. This article describes the benefits you can get, including if you’re a newly arrived Haitian. Special benefits rules apply for immigrants who are considered “Cuban/Haitian Entrants."

What monthly cash and food benefits am I eligible for?

TAFDC cash assistance

You may be eligible for TAFDC if you are a “Cuban/Haitian Entrant” or meet the other immigrant status rules. 

To get TAFDC, you must be low income and: 

  • Have children under age 18, or 
  • Be pregnant (five months or more)

EAEDC cash assistance

You may be eligible for monthly EAEDC if you have any kind of legal immigration status or a pending application for status, including TPS, and if you are not getting other cash assistance benefits. 

You can get EAEDC if you are low income and: 

  • Age 65 years or older, 
  • Have an impairment or disability, 
  • Need to care for a severely disabled adult or child, or 
  • Are a child under age 18 (but not living with relatives).

Refugee cash assistance (RCA)

You may be eligible for RCA if you are a Cuban/Haitian Entrant and you do not have children. You can get RCA for up to one year, if you are not getting other cash benefits. 

SNAP Nutrition Benefits

You may also be eligible for SNAP (sometimes called Food Stamps) if you are a Cuban/Haitian entrant or meet other immigrant status rules. Households who receive SNAP also have access to other programs such as the HIP Program (farmers market benefits). 

How do I apply for benefits?

DTA cash and SNAP benefits

There are three ways to apply: 

  • By phone. Call DTA’s Assistance Line: 1-877-382-2363 (press extension #7),
  • Online. Go to, or
  • In person at a local DTA Office.

For Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)

  • Apply for RCA through a local refugee resettlement agency. Call the Mass Office of Refugees and Immigrants for a referral: 1-617-727-7888.  
  • The refugee resettlement agencies can also provide case management, employment services and other services. 
Can I get additional nutrition benefits?

Women Infant and Children (WIC) benefits

You do not need a legal immigrant status to get WIC. You may qualify for WIC if you are low-income and:

  • Pregnant, breastfeeding or post-partum, or 
  • Your children are under the age 5. 

You can apply for WIC by calling the Department of Public Health at 1-800-9421007, applying online, or going in person to a local WIC clinic. 

Other nutrition benefits 

If you are low-income, you may also qualify for

  • Free school meals for your children
  • Summer EBT benefits for your children (DTA will send these to you if eligible).
  • Emergency food resources from a local food pantry.
  • Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline can help you find food near you. Call: 1-800-645-8333.
Who is a Cuban/Haitian entrant?

“Cuban/Haitian Entrants” are nationals of Cuba or Haiti who are eligible for federal benefits under federal law. This is not an immigration status. To be a “Cuban/Haitian Entrant,” you must fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • You entered the U.S. with humanitarian parole, 
  • You have  filed an application for asylum, or
  • You are in removal proceedings but do not have a final, enforceable order of removal. 

Children born to Haitian parents outside Haiti are Haitian nationals who may qualify as Cuban/Haitian entrants.  You may also be eligible for benefits if you have a green card (Legal Permanent Resident) or meet other immigration status rules. Talk with an advocate about the rules for getting benefits.

What if I only have Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

If you only have TPS, you are not eligible to receive SNAP, TAFDC or RCA benefits. But you may be eligible if you have additional circumstances that qualify you as a Cuban/Haitian Entrant, such as you entered the U.S. with humanitarian parole or applied for asylum. 

If you are age 65 or older, or disabled, or caring for a disabled person, you may be eligible for EAEDC cash assistance if you have TPS.

What if I have a visitor or student visa?

Immigrants with non-immigrant visas, such as visitors or foreign student visas, are not eligible for SNAP food assistance or cash benefits.

What if I need legal help?

Legal Services provides free legal help to low income persons who qualify for services. Contact your local Legal Services if you have been denied cash or food benefits or need other legal help.


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