FIND ASSISTANCE

Governmental safety-net programs are designed for individuals and families who are having trouble accessing health care and food as well as replacing lost income.  Below you will find information and links to apply for various state programs.

I am uninsured and need to get healthcare insurance…

To see if you qualify for public health benefits like TennCare, CoverKids or Medicare Savings Programs as well as insurance affordability programs offered by healthcare.gov by visiting the “Public Health Benefits” tab on the left side of this page.

I need to get food for myself and my family… 

You may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps by visiting the “Food Resources” tab on the left side of this page.

I need help paying my living expenses…

You may be eligible for Families First. This program provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services.  Like SNAP benefits, you can start a Family Assistance online application by clicking here. Click the “Create DHS Account” link on the page.

  • If you recently lost your job, you may be able to access unemployment benefits by clicking on the link below:
    • General Information about the Unemployment Insurance Program or to file a claim click here.

You may be eligible to receive money directly from the federal government. 

  • To see if you qualify and how much you can get, visit the “Economic Impact Payment” tab on the left side of this page.

I am an essential service employee who needs help finding childcare…

Are you a parent or guardian of a child and considered an essential employee? You may able to get help paying for childcare. It’s called the Essential Employee Child Care Payment Assistance Program.  It covers childcare expenses from licensed providers from April 15, 2020 to June 14, 2020. There are requirements and certain limitations, but there are no income limits. You can apply online here.

  • Essential employees are:
    • Employees of a healthcare entity
    • Law Enforcement
    • First Responders (EMS, Fire Departments)
    • Corrections Officers
    • Military
    • Activated National Guard
    • Human and Social Services Workers
    • Postal Workers
    • Transportation
    • Restaurant
    • Grocery Worker
  • To apply you will need to verification for of the following categories:
    • Valid ID – this includes a Driver’s License, State Issued Identification Card, Voter’s Registration Card or Passport.
    • Current Residence – this includes a rent/lease agreement, mortgage receipt or utility bill like a water, electric or gas bill.
    • Citizenship for each child needing care if the child was not born in Tennessee – This includes a birth certificate, US passport, certificate of citizenship, hospital or doctor records, Report of certificate of Birth Abroad of US Citizen, or adoption papers, or military record.
    • Proof of Employment – this includes last pay period check stud, employer statement on company letterhead, or a copy of your employee ID.
    • Verifications should be emailed to Certificate.DHS@TN.GOV.
  • If you need to find a licensed childcare provider click here.
  • Do you have school-age children not enrolled anywhere else? Some YMCAs and the Boys & Girls Clubs offer childcare for essential service employees as well.
  • For more information about the Covid-19 Essential Employee Child Care Payment Assistance Program, click here. Scroll down to the COVID-19 section.

Can I get money directly from the federal government?

You may be eligible to get an Economic Impact Payment from the federal government. To see if you qualify and how much you can get, visit the “Economic Impact Payment” tab on the left side of this page.

Need help paying for your living expenses?

You may be eligible for Families First. This program provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, childcare assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services. Like SNAP benefits, you can start a Family Assistance online application by clicking here. Click the “Create DHS Account” link on the page.

I need to get food for my children…

You may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps by visiting the “Food Resources” tab on the left side of this page. This includes school meals and WIC benefits.

Who can get the government’s stimulus check?

The federal government will be giving money to tax filers, social security recipients and railroad retirees beginning in April, 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is called an Economic Impact Payment sometimes referred to the “stimulus check”.  Here is how much you can get:

Is your ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME (meaning gross income minus deductions) less than $75,000 for one person or $150,000 for a married couple filing jointly?

 If yes, you should get the full benefit amount.

  • Individuals will receive $1,200 plus $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.
  • Married couples will receive $2,400 plus $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.

If no…

  • Tax filers with adjusted gross income above the $75,000 (single) and $150,000 (married filing jointly) thresholds will have their payments reduced, and some tax-filers without qualifying children may not receive a payment at all. To learn more, visit the IRS website here.
  • You can calculate what benefit you can expect to get receive here.
  • You can go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.

For most people, the money will be automatically deposited into their bank account – meaning they do NOT have to do anything to receive it. The IRS plans to mail a letter about the payment to the taxpayer’s last known address withing 15 days after the payment is paid. It will contain details about how the payment was made and what to do if you did not receive the payment.

Other people may have to take some type of action to receive the maximum amount of money available to them.

If you filed taxes in either 2018 or 2019 and provided your bank account information on your return to receive a refund or to make a payment…

You should NOT have to do anything.  The IRS will calculate your payment based on your tax return and deposit it directly in your bank account.  For tax year 2019, the IRS extended the filing deadline to July 15, 2020 due to the Coronavirus.  Have you filed your 2019 taxes yet?

  • If YES, the IRS will use the information from your 2019 return.
  • If NO, the IRS will use the information from your 2018 return.

If you filed taxes in either 2018 or 2019 but did NOT provide your bank account information on your return…

Use the federal government’s Get Your Payment tool to enter your bank account information. You can access the tool here. You can also use the tool to:

  • Check the status of your payment.
  • Update your address and confirm your payment type either direct deposit or check if your payment hasn’t been already sent to you.

If you are a senior citizen, Social Security recipient or a railroad retiree who was NOT required to file a tax return in either 2018 or 2019… 

You should NOT have to do anything unless you have dependent children under the age of 17.  If so, you may be able to get an extra $500 per dependent child. Because the deadline of April 22, 2020 to apply online has passed, the only way you can get the extra money is to file a tax return for 2020. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do this until January 1, 2021. 

Do you have dependent children under the age of 17? 

  • If NO, you will receive $1,200.  For married couples who both receive social security benefits, each person will get $1,200. 
  • If YES, you will receive $1,200. You may get $500 per child eligible child, but you will need to file a tax return for 2020. 
  • If you receive Social Security benefits, you should get your money the same way you get your regular Social Security payment.
  • After Wednesday, April 22, 2020, you will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the additional $500 per child.

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)…

You should receive the automatic payment by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check. If you receive your money in a Direct Express debit card, you will receive a check in the mail. It will NOT be loaded to your card.

  • If you have dependent children under the age to 17, you may be able to get an extra $500 per dependent child.
    • If you get your payment by direct deposit or paper check, you will need to use the federal government’s Non-Filers tool by Tuesday, May 5, 2020. You can find it here. Please make sure you read and follow the directions carefully.
  • If you get a Direct Express debit card, you can use the Non-Filers tool, but you can’t get your and your children’s payment on your Direct Express account. Do you have a bank account?
    • If YES, you can get your and your children’s payment deposited into your account. Use the Non-Filers tool and enter your bank account information by Tuesday, May 5, 2020. If NO, you can get your and your children’s payment by a check mailed to you.  You can still use the Non-Filer’s tool, just leave bank account information section blank.  You must use the Non-Filers tool by Tuesday May 5, 2020.

Economic Impact Payments are NOT considered income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months. After 12 months, any remaining balance may count as a resource for future eligibility.

When will I get my check?

You may be able to check the status of your Economic Impact Payment by clicking here. Click on the “Get My Payment” button and follow the directions. You will need to provide your Social Security Number, date of birth, street address and Zip Code to get an update.

  • You will be informed when the payment will be sent to you or deposited into your bank account.
  • If you get a message that says, “Payment Status Not Available”, it usually means the IRS is still processing your payment information from their system. You can read more about it here. Scroll down to the “Payment Status Not Available” section.
  • If you get a message that says, “Please Try Again Later”, it means your account has been locked. You will be able to try again after 24 hours have passed.
  • You may not be able to check the status of your payment if you usually don’t file a tax return. If your identify cannot be determined when answering security questions, you won’t be able to use Get My Payment.

How to file a 2019 tax return…

If you still need to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you should do so right away so you can receive your Economic Impact Payment.  It is important to include your banking information on your return even if you don’t owe taxes or won’t receive a refund.

You may be able to file a tax return online for free.  The IRS offers a Free File Online Lookup Tool on its website.  To learn more about filing your taxes for free including the use of its tool, click here.

You may be able to file a tax return online for free… 

  • Taxpayers can access Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). It is a free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need help filing their tax return.
    • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, VITA services are being offered virtually. The United Way of Greater Nashville may be able to connect you to an IRS-certified preparer. Virtual VITA is not for everyone.  To see if using Virtual VITA is right for you, click here.

Need to file a tax return to get your Economic Impact Payments, but can’t right now?

That is ok.  According to the IRS, Economic Impact Payments will be available until the end of 2020.  This gives you time to visit a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help filing your tax return.

Will I have to pay taxes on the economic impact payment?

No.

Watch out for Coronavirus-related scams and schemes about receiving stimulus checks… 

According to the IRS website, the IRS will NOT call, text or email you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster.  The IRS recommends that you do NOT open surprise emails that appear to be from the IRS including opening attachments or clicking on links.  To report suspicious activity to the IRS, click here.

Looking for more information on Economic Impact Payments? Click here.

COVID-19 food resource for individuals and families. See below for more information about getting food through School Meals, WIC and SNAP.

Food for Children – School Meals

  • Schools are closed, but school meals are still available in many areas of the state. See the map of school lunch pick-up locations here
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools- Food delivery locations and information about where individuals under 18 can find free breakfast and lunch starting March 23 can be found on the MNPS website here.
  • Knox County Schools-  Monday, April 6, we will be moving to a two-day (Monday/Wednesday, 10am to noon) meal distribution schedule. The district will provide two days’ worth of meals to be distributed on Monday and three days’ worth of meals on Wednesday. And although Monday, April 13, is a scheduled district holiday, meal distribution will be held as usual. Learn more: https://www.knoxschools.org/Page/21802
  • Shelby County Meals for Kids- Meals are available M-F while schools are closed, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., for all children 18 and under. Learn more: https://www.scsk12.org/coronavirusfacts/studentmeals 
  • Hamilton County Schools- Hamilton County Schools locations will be available from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3rd, Monday, April 6th and Wednesday, April 8th. There will not be food service on Friday, April 10, because of the Good Friday holiday. Learn more: https://www.hcde.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=350278&pageId=29556531 

Food for Pregnant or Post-Partum Women, Infants and Children under 5

WIC provides nutritious supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education. If you are pregnant, recently given birth, or care for an infants or children under 5 you might be eligible for WIC.  

  • Am I eligible for WIC? Find out here.
  • To apply call 1-800-Dial-WIC or visit tn.gov/WIC.
    • Due to COVID-19, applications are being taken over the phone.

Food for Individuals or Household – SNAP/Food Stamps 

  • You may be eligible to apply for SNAP.
  • Current SNAP recipients and new SNAP applicants will receive the maximum benefit for April and May. (Maximum benefit for 3-person household = $509)
  • Due to COVID 19 SNAP offices are encouraging individuals to apply online here.
  • Local offices will have employees available to respond to questions or applications via telephone. Customers can find the number to their local office by going on online here.
  • If you are between the ages of 18-49 and have lost SNAP because of the 3-month time limit rule you may be eligible. The SNAP 3-month time limit has been removed.
  • If you need application assistance, please locate someone who can help:

TN Commission on Aging/Disability: Lacey Aviles, Aging Nutrition Coordinator

Contact: 615-253-4161  |  Lacey.aviles@tn.gov 

Second Harvest Middle TN: Kate Pearce, SNAP Coordinator

Contact: 615-782-2071  |  Kate.pearce@secondharvestmidtn.org

Second Harvest Northeast TN: Alecia Holder, SNAP Outreach Coordinator

Contact: 423-279-0430 ext.216  |  outreach@netfoodbank.org

West TN Legal Services: Beth Bates, SNAP Project Director

Contact: 731-426-1313  |  Beth@wtls.org

Chattanooga Food Bank: Letisia Garcia-Sanchez, SNAP Outreach Coordinator

Contact: 706-330-4562  |  Lsanchez@chattfoodbank.org

Knoxville-Knox County CAC: Alice Allen, SNAP Coordinator

Contact: 865-524-2786  |  Alice.allen@knoxseniors.org

MidSouth Food Bank (Memphis): Nakilla Jones, SNAP Coordinator

Contact: 901-373–408  |  Njones@midsouthfoodbank.org

Univ. Of Memphis: Alison Brown, Student Outreach & Support

Contact: 901-678-3594  |  Mbrown37@memphis.edu

United Way Metro Nashville: Tracey Dill, Director of Community Impact

Contact: 615-780-2461 or Dial 2-1-1  |  Tracey.dill@uwmn.org

Emergency Food

Locate a food bank or pantry in your area:

You may be eligible to receive money directly from the federal government. 

  • To see if you qualify and how much you can get, visit the “Economic Impact Payment” tab on the left side of this page.

Need help paying for your living expenses?

  • You may be eligible for Families First. This program provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services.  Like SNAP benefits, you can start a Family Assistance online application by clicking here. Click the “Create DHS Account” link on the page.

I need COVID-19 related information about Tennessee’s nutrition safety net programs…

The TJC Nutrition Team have created COVID-19 resource pages for partners who want to know more and take action to ensure Tennesseans are fed during the pandemicSee below for more information on changes to SNAP, WIC and the Child Nutrition Programs. Learn what additional steps are needed to expand the programs to reach Tennesseans who struggle to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic. 

I need information about SNAP updates…

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a duel threat to public health and the American economy. This has already created significant challenges for Tennesseans who live in food-insecure households and for others who are on the brink of poverty, which is the root cause of hunger. Social distancing, decreased work opportunities, and school and child care closures are exacerbating the struggles of families that were already wondering how they would put their next meal on the table, and do not have the resources to stockpile food during this crisis. Click here for more program updates and resources.

I need information about WIC updates…

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to preserve access to the Tennessee Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which provides healthy food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and social service referrals to low-income families with young children.

Click here for more program updates and resources.

I need information about school and summer meals…

Click here for program updates and resources.

I lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures…

P-EBT provides households who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals as a result of school closures an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch loaded onto it. 

Eligible households include those whose children are certified to received free or reduced-price school meals and children who attend schools that offer free school meals to all students (such as community eligibility or Provision 2 schools). 

P-EBT was created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. State agencies must submit an implementation plan to USDA that describes how they will operate P-EBT and receive approval before moving forward. 

Tennessee has not yet received approval from USDA to implement P-EBT.  

The Tennessee Justice Center believes that P-EBT is crucial to anti-hunger efforts in Tennessee and will be updating this page with more information as it becomes available. 

If you or someone you know has questions about this process, please email Kelli Klein at kklein@tnjustice.org 

To learn more about P-EBT and advocacy opportunities, please see the Food Research and Action Center’s P-EBT Fact Sheet. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a Coronavirus Self-Checker to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care.  You can access the CDC’s website here including the self-checker.

If you have health insurance like TennCare, CoverKids, Medicare or private health insurance

  • You can find a testing location based on county where you live by clicking here.
  • You should seek treatment for the coronavirus from your doctor.
  • If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you can find a list of clinics in your area here.

Telehealth services and telemedicine are available to current TennCare Enrollees…

Telehealth services and telemedicine allow your doctor to provide certain medical services (like diagnosing illnesses, providing treatment and prescribing medicine) to you using your home phone, cellphone or the internet.  While telehealth and telemedicine have slightly different meanings, the Division of TennCare now allows doctors to use these services to provide treatment to you.

  • It is up to your doctor to determine whether you must be seen in the office or whether telehealth or telemedicine is right for your care.
  • Telehealth and telemedicine may be available if you need behavioral health services.
  • You should check with your doctor to see if telehealth or telemedicine is right for you.

If you don’t have health insurance now, have you had TennCare, CoverKids or Supplemental Security Income also known as SSI in the past?

  • If yes, we might be able to help you. Please complete the form below or call TJC at 615-255-0331 or 877-608-1009 Toll-Free.

  • If no, visit the “Public Health Benefits” tab on the left side of this page to see if you may qualify for TennCare, CoverKids or other insurance affordability programs.

You can find information about the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in your county by clicking here.

Below you will find information about Tennessee Metropolitan Area Service updates:

You may be eligible for public health benefits like TennCare, CoverKids or Medicare Savings Programs, if you answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

  • Do you care for any children under the age of 19 in your home?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you under the age of 21?
  • Has Social Security said you are “Disabled”?
  • Are you currently on Medicare?
  • Do you need assistance with activities of daily living like eating, using the bathroom, communication, getting around in your home or the community?

If you answered YES…

To any of these questions apply for public health coverage on TennCare Connect by clicking here.

  • Although you can also apply by phone, fax or mail, we strongly recommend applying online due to the high volume of applications the state receives daily.
  • If you apply and are denied, we might be able to help. Please complete the form below or call the TJC at 615-255-0331 or 877-608-1009 Toll-Free.
  • Need help filling out a TennCare or CoverKids application? Click here to learn more about over the phone assistance.

If you answered NO… 

Do you believe your household income will be more than the income limits based on the chart below?

Family Members Poverty Guidelines
1 $                     12,760.00
2 $                     17,240.00
3 $                     21,720.00
4 $                     26,200.00
5 $                     30,680.00
6 $                     35,160.00
7 $                     39,640.00
8 $                     44,120.00
  • If your household income is greater than the applicable limit above, go to healthcare.gov to see if you can apply for health insurance and receive financial help paying your premiums.
    • If you need help applying on healthcare.gov, call toll free 1-800-269-4038.
  • If your income is less than the applicable limit above, then you may be in the Coverage Gap. You may be able to access free or reduced fee health care.
    • To find a clinic near you click here.
    • For help with medications click here.
    • If you would like to share your story, please complete this form and a member of our staff will contact you.

On TennCare and they won’t cover what your doctor has prescribed?

We may be able to help!  Please complete the form below or call us at 615-255-0331 or 877-608-1009 (toll free).

SPECIAL NOTE for pregnant immigrants without health insurance…

You can apply for CoverKids regardless of your immigration status.  This means all pregnant immigrants can receive prenatal, labor and delivery and post-partum care provided they are Tennessee residents and meet certain income requirements.

  • To apply for CoverKids, go to your local health department.
    • To find your local health department click here.
  • Some free and reduced fee health clinics may be able to help you apply for CoverKids as well.
    • To find a clinic near you, click here.

Help for immigrants in general…

Usually, only United States citizens and certain lawfully-present non-citizens may receive public health benefits, food assistance, temporary cash payments to pay living expenses.  To qualify for these programs, applicants must meet certain income and resource requirements.  Depending on your immigration status, an additional waiting period may also apply.

  • Children born in the United States may be eligible regardless of their parents’ immigration status.

I am uninsured and need to get healthcare insurance…

To see if you qualify for public health benefits like TennCare, CoverKids or Medicare Savings Programs as well as insurance affordability programs offered by healthcare.gov go to the “Public Health Benefits” tab on the left side of this page.

I need to get food for myself and my family… 

To see if you are eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits right away, click here.  You may be eligible for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Click on the “Food Assistance” tab on the left side of this page to learn more.

I need help paying my living expenses…

  • You may be eligible for Families First. This program provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, childcare assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services.  Like SNAP benefits, you can start a Family Assistance online application by clicking here.  Click the “Create DHS Account” link on the page.
  • If you recently lost your job, you may be able to access unemployment benefits by clicking on the link below:
    • General Information about the Unemployment Insurance Program or to file a claim click here.

COVID-19 UPDATES

For additional resources, updates about COVID-19 in Tennessee, TJC updates regarding coronavirus, and ways to get involved to help Tennesseans during this time, click here.