Many federally funded assistance opportunities can help you get back on your feet. There are a variety of options that can offer relief for people who need it the most. You need to know the different forms of aid opportunities that are available to you. There may be more support for your current situation than you think.
Understanding Your Available Assistance Options
Since there are so many different assistance opportunities available, it can be hard to figure out which might help your current situation. Fortunately, the federal government recognizes that this may be a concern that people face when looking for support. The government established Benefits.gov, a website that outlines over 1,000 benefits that you can access. While people have the chance to look for opportunities by category or by agency, there is another method to look through benefits.
This website has a tool known as the Benefit Finder. This is a tool that allows users to fill out a survey that asks for information about their situation. It includes details such as a person’s birthday, citizenship status, members of their family, which state they live in, etc. All of these questions assist the Benefit Finder to find options that individuals would likely be eligible for. However, this tool cannot guarantee that a person can get any assistance. It only lets you understand some potential options to think about. The only true way to find out if you can receive assistance from a program is by applying.
There are assistance opportunities for food, housing, cash assistance, nutrition, healthcare, and more. The right support opportunity will be based on your current situation. Some assistance options that might be able to help you include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Public Housing
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is also known as food stamps. This is a nutritional support option for low-income families. How this program operates is that qualifying recipients will get an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Every month, the card will get funds. How much the card will get is based on the recipient’s application. EBT cards can be used at any store that allows them as a type of payment. However, it can only be used for purchasing eligible items such as:
- Snack foods
- Dairy products
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and/or plants that make food for the family to eat
- Additional foods like the ones that are mentioned above
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits?
If you are interested in applying for SNAP benefits, you will need to see if you qualify. It is important to remember that the SNAP eligibility criteria may differ from one state to another. You will need to figure out what the eligibility requirements are for the state that you are staying in. This will also influence how a person can apply for the SNAP! You will want to contact your state agency for more information. You can either:
- Visit their office in-person
- Go to their website online
- Contact them through their toll-free number
Affordable housing is a challenge for many American households to achieve. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as the amount of a person’s gross income that is used towards housing expenses like rent and utilities. By their definition, a family should spend no more than 30% of their income on housing expenses. That is why HUD provides public housing. This is a housing assistance option that focuses on giving qualifying recipients safe and clean rental homes. When most individuals think of public housing, they typically imagine apartment complexes. However, it can come in other variations as well, such as scattered single-family houses.
Even though this is a HUD support option, it is administered at the local level through housing agencies (HAs). These HAs will deal with the properties at affordable rent for recipients. Not everyone qualifies for this opportunity. While specific eligibility criteria will differ, HAs define whether a person is eligible by looking into their:
- Income Level
- Citizenship Status
- Family Status
- References That You Provide
If you are interested in applying for this program, you will need to contact your local HA. You also have the chance to contact your local HUD Field Office. The rent that you will spend for properties is based on your housing situation at the moment. Rent, also known as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP), is based on your family’s expected gross annual income. If the program finds you qualified to stay in public housing, you will be able to stay as long as you follow your lease.
Medicaid is a type of combined federal and state governmental healthcare assistance option. It can provide reduced or free health coverage to eligible Americans. The requirements of this program will differ from one state to another. Generally, applicants will need to meet the following requirements:
- Stays in the state that they are applying for as a resident
- Has a qualifying low income
- Has an eligible citizenship status
You need to remember that this is a combined program between the federal government and the state. This is important because some federal requirements apply to all Medicaid programs, regardless of the state. For instance, there are federal “mandatory” services that this healthcare support option must offer. This includes:
- Home Health Services
- Nursing Home Facility Services for Adults
- Laboratory Services
- X-Ray Services
- Physician Care
- Hospital Care
If you are interested in applying for this program, you can either visit the Health Insurance Marketplace or go to your state’s Medicaid agency. You will need to contact your state Medicaid office for any questions you have and to help you understand whether you are eligible or not. They will be able to offer you helpful tips.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is a program that operates differently than some of the other options on this list. It focuses on using the grant funds that the federal government offers states and territories. The grant funds that these states and territories get will be used for offering eligible households cash assistance and support services. Just like other options on this list mentioned, the exact assistance will differ from one state to another.
In order to be eligible for this program, people must:
- Live in the state that they are applying in
- Have an eligible citizenship status
- Must be either unemployed or underemployed
- Have an eligible low income status
It is also important to remember that since the program aims to help households, an applicant must have a kid that is less than 18 years old, be pregnant, or be at most 18 years old as the head of the family. Eligible people are not able to gain from this program permanently. They can only get up to five years of assistance. This program also comes with work requirements. However, there are exceptions to these work requirements.
What is the Goal of TANF?
This is a program that focuses on helping families reach self-sufficiency. This includes meeting the goals of:
- Assist families in need of children to receive care in either their own home or the home of a relative
- Terminating the dependence that parents have on government benefits by promoting healthy behaviors like work, job preparation, etc.
- Reducing and preventing pregnancies that come out of wedlock
- Encouraging households that consist of two-parents
If you want to apply for this program, get in touch with your state TANF office.
This healthcare assistance program should not be mixed up with Medicaid! Even though both programs have similar names, they are two entirely different assistance options. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that can provide assistance to people that meet one of the following criteria:
- Are at least the age of 65
- Have a disability, if they are younger than 65 years old
- Have End-Stage Renal Disease which is permanent kidney failure that needs a transplant or dialysis
Medicare can cover 4 different parts. There is Part A, Part B, and Part D. Part C is Medicare Advantage and it is only accessible from private insurance companies. Each part provides coverage with its set of services:
- Hospital Insurance (Part A): This type of coverage would include inpatient hospital stays, nursing facility stays, hospice care, and specific home health care services.
- Medical Insurance (Part B): This type of coverage would have specific doctors’ services, medical supplies, preventative services, and outpatient care.
- Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D): This type of coverage would be used towards the expenses of prescription drugs, shots, and vaccines.
How to Get Medicare?
If you are interested in signing up for Medicare, the process will differ. That is because some people receive Original Medicare (which is parts A and B) automatically while others are required to sign up for it. Some people can automatically receive this coverage from their retirement benefits or disability benefits. This is because when presenting an application for either type of those benefits, it also serves as a Medicare application. If it approves of your application to get retirement benefits or disability benefits, they will automatically receive Part A coverage of Medicare once they qualify for this healthcare coverage opportunity. The best part? They would not be in charge of paying for a premium.
People may also be able to automatically receive Part A coverage from Medicare if they get at least four months of benefits from Social Security, even though they are younger than the age of 65 years old. Additionally, people will be signed up for Part B, if they live in an eligible area. Individuals that reside in Puerto Rico or outside of the United States are not considered living in an eligible area. Part B is not free of charge and individuals will be required to pay a premium per month. Fortunately, they have the chance to decide whether or not they are interested in keeping the coverage!
If you are not able to receive Medicare automatically, you should contact Social Security. You can either sign up on the website, on the phone, or through your local Social Security office.
The Final Verdict
In conclusion, there are several things that you can do to make your current situation better. One of the things you can do is apply for federal assistance opportunities. There is a wide range of assistance options that are available to help with food costs, housing expenses, cash assistance, and more. It might be a challenge and there might be a lot of paperwork you need to submit, but you may be able to get the support that could seriously improve your life. The best part is the fact that these applications are free of charge; they will not hurt your finances at all! So, keep your chin up and put on your thinking caps. Your life will get better–you just have to look.