You might not realize this, but there are a lot of federally funded assistance options that can help you with your current situation. In fact, there is a wide range of opportunities that can provide relief for those who need it the most. This is why you need to understand the different types of aid options that are available to you. There may be more support for your situation than you realize.
Understanding Your Available Assistance Options
Since there are so many different assistance options available, it can be hard to know what may be able to help your situation. Luckily, the government understands that this may be a problem that people run into when looking for support. That is why they created Benefits.gov. This is a website that lists out over 1,000 benefits that are available through the government. While individuals have the option to search by category or by agency, there is another way to search through benefits.
This website has a feature known as the Benefit Finder tool. This is a tool that requires users to fill out a questionnaire that asks for details about their personal situation. This includes details like an individual’s birthday, citizenship status, members of their household, which state they reside in, etc. All of these questions can help the Benefit Finder locate assistance that people would likely qualify for. However, this tool cannot guarantee any of the assistance that a person can receive. Instead, it lets you know some potential opportunities to consider. The only true way to determine if you will be able to get assistance from a program is by actually submitting an application.
There are assistance options for food, housing, cash assistance, nutrition, healthcare, and more. The right support option will depend on the situation you are currently dealing with. Some assistance that may be able to help includes:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Public Housing
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
SNAP is also known by the name of food stamps. This is a nutritional support opportunity for low-income households. How this program works is that eligible recipients will get an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Every month, the card will receive funds. The amount of funds that the card will receive depends on the recipient’s application. EBT cards can be used at any store that accepts them as a form of payment. However, it can only go towards buying qualifying items like:
- Snack foods
- Dairy products
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and/or plants that produce food for the household to eat
- Additional foods similar to the ones that are listed above
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits?
If you want to apply for SNAP benefits you will need to see if you are eligible. It is important to note that the specific SNAP eligibility requirements may vary by state. That is why you will need to see what the criteria is for the state that you live in. This will also impact how an individual is able to apply for the program! You will want to get in touch with your state agency for more information. You can either:
- Go to their office in-person
- Visit their website online
- Get in touch by calling their toll-free number
Like we said earlier the amount you can get will depend on your application. However, there are maximums set in place! For the timeframe of Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022 the household sizes below have a monthly benefit maximum of:
- 1 person household: Monthly maximum of $250
- 2 person household: Monthly maximum of $459
- 3 person household: Monthly maximum of $658
- 4 person household: Monthly maximum of $835
- 5 person household: Monthly maximum of $992
- 6 person household: Monthly maximum of $1,190
- 7 person household: Monthly maximum of $1,316
- 8 person household: Monthly maximum of $1,504
- Each additional person after 8 family members can get a maximum benefit of $188
Affordable housing is hard for many Americans to obtain. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing by looking at how much of a person’s gross income goes towards housing costs like rent and utilities. By their definition, a household should not spend more than 30% of their gross income towards housing costs. That is why HUD offers public housing. This is a housing assistance opportunity that aims to give eligible individuals safe and decent rental housing. When most people think of public housing they usually picture apartments. However, it can come in other forms as well like scattered single-family houses.
Even though this is a HUD support opportunity, it is managed at the local level through housing agencies (HAs). These HAs will manage the properties at an affordable rent for recipients. Not everyone is eligible for this option. While specific eligibility requirements will vary, HAs determine if a person qualifies by looking at their:
- Income Level
- Citizenship Status
- Family Status
If you want to apply for this program you will need to get in touch with your local HA. However, you also have the option to get in touch with your local HUD Field Office. The rent that you will pay for properties depends on your current situation. Rent, also known as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) depends on your household’s anticipated gross yearly income. If you are found eligible to live in public housing then you will typically be able to stay as long as you are compliant with your lease!
Medicaid is a type of joint federal and state healthcare assistance opportunity. It can give low-cost or free health coverage to qualifying Americans. The specifics of this program will vary by state. However, typically applicants will need to meet the following conditions:
- Resides in the state that they are applying for as a resident
- Has an eligible low income
- Has a qualifying citizenship status
It’s important to keep in mind the fact that this is a joint program between the federal government and state governments. That’s important because there are some federal rules that apply to all Medicaid programs regardless of the state. For example, there are federal “mandatory” services that this health coverage opportunity must provide. This includes:
- Home Health Services
- Hospital Care
- Laboratory Services
- Nursing Home Facility Services for Adults
- Physician Care
- X-Ray Services
If you want to apply for this program you can either go through the Health Insurance Marketplace or through your state’s Medicaid agency. You will want to get in touch with your state Medicaid office for any questions you have and to better understand your eligibility. They will be able to provide you with helpful information.
TANF is a program that works a little differently than some of the other opportunities on this list. That’s because it refers to the grant funds that the federal government provides states (and territories). The grant funds that these states and territories receive will go towards providing qualifying families with cash assistance and support services. However, just like other options on this list, the exact assistance will vary by state.
In order to qualify for this program, individuals must:
- Live in the state that they are applying in
- Have a qualifying citizenship status
- Be either unemployed or underemployed
- Have a qualifying low income status
It’s also important to note that since the program focuses on supporting families, an applicant must have a child that is younger than 18 years old, be pregnant, or be at most 18 years old as the head of household. Individuals that qualify aren’t able to benefit from this program indefinitely. Instead, they can only receive up to 5 years of support. This program also comes along with work requirements. However, there are exceptions to these requirements.
What is the Goal of TANF?
This is a program that focuses on helping families reach self-sufficiency. This includes aiming to meet the goals of:
- Providing assistance to families in need in order for children to receive care in either their own home or the home of a relative
- Terminating the dependence that parents have on government benefits through 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 you will need to get in touch with your state TANF office.
This health coverage program should not be confused with Medicaid! Even though the names are similar, they are two entirely different programs. Medicare is a type of federal health insurance program that can help people that meet one of the following conditions:
- Are at least 65 years old
- Have a disability if they are under 65 years old
- Have End-Stage Renal Disease which is permanent kidney failure that requires a transplant or dialysis
Medicare can provide coverage through 4 different parts. There is Part A, Part B, and Part D. Part C refers to Medicare Advantage which is only available through private insurance companies. Each part can cover its own set of services:
- Hospital Insurance (Part A): This coverage would include inpatient hospital stays, nursing facility stays, hospice care, and some home health care services
- Medical Insurance (Part B): This coverage would include specific doctors’ services, medical supplies, preventative services, and outpatient care
- Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D): This coverage would go towards the cost of prescription drugs, shots, and vaccines
How to Get Medicare?
If you want to sign up for Medicare, the process will vary. That’s because some people get Original Medicare (which is parts A and B) automatically while others need to sign up for it. Some people are able to automatically get this coverage from their retirement benefits or disability benefits. That’s because when submitting an application for either of those benefits, it also acts as a Medicare application. If an individual is approved to receive retirement benefits or disability benefits, then they will automatically get Part A coverage of Medicare once they are eligible for this health coverage option. The best part? They wouldn’t be responsible for paying a premium.
Individuals may also be able to automatically get Part A coverage from Medicare if they receive at least 4 months of benefits from Social Security even if they are younger than 65 years old. Individuals will also be signed up for Part B if they live in a qualifying area. Those that live in Puerto Rico or outside of the United States do not live in a qualifying area. However, Part B is not free and people will need to pay a monthly premium. Luckily, they have the option to choose whether or not they want to keep the coverage!
If you are unable to get Medicare automatically then you will want to get in touch with Social Security. Typically, you can either sign up online, over the phone, or by visiting your local Social Security office.
In conclusion, there are many things that you can do to improve your current situation. One of the things you can do is apply for federal assistance options. There are a variety of assistance options available that can help with food expenses, housing costs, cash assistance, and more. It might be hard and there is a lot of paperwork involved but, you might be able to receive relief that could significantly help your life. The best part is the fact that these applications are free so even though it may be a pain in the butt for the time spent, it won’t hurt your finances!