Can I Start My Own Business While on Welfare?

by Lainie Petersen; Updated September 26, 2017
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If you'd like to earn extra money while on welfare, or transition off public assistance entirely, starting a business may be an option. In fact, some aid programs, such as Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Aid for Needy Families, offer self-employment assistance to qualifying clients. To avoid losing benefits because you are earning an income through a business, talk to your caseworker before beginning a new venture. She can let you know if your business activities will put your benefits in jeopardy.

Starting a Business While Receiving TANF Benefits

If you receive Temporary Aid for Needy Families, check with your state's public aid office. Some states, such as Illinois and Maine, allow you to become self-employed and even provide support and assistance during the start-up process. Not everyone who receives TANF benefits can receive self-employment assistance, however. States may require you to qualify for the program by meeting educational criteria or developing a business plan. You may also have to submit progress reports to your caseworker on a regular basis.

Starting a Business While Receiving SSI

Individuals who receive SSI benefits and would like to try to work again can receive assistance through the Ticket to Work Program. Authorized employment service providers in your area, called Employment Networks, contract with the Social Security Administration to provide job training and, in some cases, self-employment assistance. If you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, you can search for Employment Networks online at chooseworkttw.net. After making contact with an Employment Network, the Network will contact Social Security to verify your eligibility for the program.

About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.

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