Welfare Avoidance Grants (WAG)

Welfare Avoidance Grants (WAG) help families to meet an immediate and compelling need in order to prevent them from going on welfare. It is a short-term, one-time, cash payment that should help a family stay off welfare.

The amount depends on the local rules and the type of need. It can be up to 3 months of Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefit for the household size, or up to 12 months of Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefit if compelling need.  This amount does not count under the Family Investment Program (FIP) 5-year clock, but it is limited to one payment per year.

Many figures used to calculate Welfare Avoidance Grants (WAG) benefits are revised annually by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) Family Investment Administration, the state agency that administers the program. These figures are usually updated in February or March, and can be found in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)


Participants must be:

  • Maryland Residents, and
  • U.S. Citizens or legal immigrants as described in COMAR

Then the rules for non-financial eligibility vary by county.

  • For Example, in Baltimore City: If a family with children has an immediate financial need that can be resolved by a lump sum cash payment, they may be eligible for participation in WAG.
Income Eligibility:

Net income (from any source must be below limit after certain deductions such as child care payments, 20% of any earned income...)

Asset Eligibility:

Household's countable assets must be worth less than $2,000.  Certain assets are not counted; example: home, personal items, all vehicles, life insurance cash value, real property other than the family's home if it is listed for sale, etc.

For more information and a full list of countable and non-countable assets, see COMAR

Apply at:

Department of Social Services.  Find your local DSS Office

  • You can appeal any denial, termination, or reduction of benefits
  • Appeals must be filed in writing at the DSS office.  It is best to file it in person and to get a receipt showing that you filed the appeal.
  • Appeals must be filed within 90 days of the action, or you cannot appeal.
  • If you file within 10 days of notice that benefits are being terminated or reduced,  they will automatically continue until the decision.  If you do not want benefits to continue until the decision you must specifically request that they not continue.  If you do not appeal within 10 days, the termination or reduction will happen.
Source of Funds:

State and federal funds

Sources of Law:

Federal Law: 42 U.S.C. §§ 601 to 619

State Law: MD Code Human Services §§ 5-312, 5-313

State Regulations: COMAR to

  •   The Assistance Unit (who is included)
  •   Eligibility Requirements (residence, and other factors besides financial eligibility)
  •   Financial Eligibility (income eligibility rules)
  •   Assets (eligibility rules about bank accounts and other valuable property; what is counted, and what is not counted)
  •   Appeals (conferences with DSS and hearings)

Reviewed and Revised by the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.

Is this legal advice?

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