Piles of paperwork and different websites must have you scrambling, losing your train of thought with all of these governmental terminology that has you twisted. All you want is to have your affairs in order, and you find it impossible to do that with all the amount of disarray that surrounds your dining room table. (That feeling you get when you clean your home and feel like you are on top of the world, you can feel that way about your assistance options!)
It can be difficult navigating the world of assistance options, especially when you are dealing with additional stress from your current situation. That is when online tools, like BenefitsCheckUp, can help make finding resources more manageable. (Think of a website that does the searching for you, while you kick back and watch the television.)
What are Government Benefits?
According to Investopedia, it defines government benefits, or welfare, as “a range of government programs that provide financial or other aid to individuals or groups who cannot support themselves.” Taxpayers in the U.S. generally fund government benefits, financially supporting individuals and families during a rough time in their lives. By rough time, they mean financial decline and not your favorite contestant getting kicked off of America’s Got Talent. (Cue, You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson.) (Hayes)
In general, individuals who use government benefits will receive a bi-weekly or a monthly payment. The objectives of government benefits are different, since it looks to support the improvement of work, education, or a better standard of living for individuals and families. (A helping hand, just a bunch of dollars comes with it.)
Types of Government Benefits
There are different types of government benefits, oh-so-many. (If you have a problem, there is a government benefit that will help resolve it with you.) Government benefits, or welfare programs, can support every aspect of any individual’s life..
Each type of government benefit has its own criteria that you need to meet, in order for you to be eligible and receive the benefit. The federal U.S. government runs different benefit programs that aim to assist certain demographics of the population, from seniors to newborns. The federal government, and state and local governments manage many available government benefit programs. (Everyone has a shot at happiness, cliché as it may sound.)
Below, you will find the top six government benefit programs that are available for low-income families and individuals. (Start reading and start taking notes, folks. Help is on its way, so you can put down your smoke signals.)
The most common government benefit program is food assistance, most commonly known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, or Food Stamps, offers eligible individuals with a benefits card that you can use as a debit card. You can use Food Stamps to purchase food at designated grocery stores and farmers markets that take part in the Program. According to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, the average monthly installment of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to individuals is 234$ per month, which will remain until September, 30th, 2021. (This means that the SNAP food stamp amounts will change after September 30th, 2021.) (U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture)
In addition to SNAP, another Food Stamp Program, known as The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that supports nursing mothers and young children. The WIC offers food or vouchers, education, and referrals to assist pregnant women and children up to the age of six. (If you are a new mom who is worrying about how to go about “the mom life”, the WIC Program will give you all the assistance you need.)
The Affordable Care Act has single handedly assisted in making healthcare more affordable for struggling individuals and families. There are two different subsidies for low-income families and individuals that are part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA requires that almost all health plans cover preventive care for individuals and families with no additional cost. This would include: birth control, blood pressure tests, cancer screenings, vaccines, and more. (No need to cry, just thank you to the ACA and get a check up.)
Additionally, the ACA prevents the denial of individuals with pre-existing conditions from health insurance. This means that if you have any pre-existing conditions, then you can still be eligible for health insurance. (Say thank you to the ACA, again.)
Medical Aid (Medicaid)
Medicaid is a public health insurance program, jointly implemented by the federal government and state government. This program offers health coverage to low-income individuals and families in America. This includes children, pregnant women, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. The federal government meets the state’s expenditure on Medicaid, while the state government is responsible for designing and implementing the Program.
Medicaid operates at a state level, which means that the coverage and implementation can significantly vary from one state to another. Medicaid is considered as the single largest resource of health insurance in the United States. (Yay, Medicaid!)
Housing Assistance is a type of government benefit program. This program’s goal is to help low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors. They can help these groups of people by providing opportunities to gain access to affordable rental housing units. The housing units could be private or government-owned rental housing units. One of the most common programs is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8. This assistance option provides subsidies (or certificates) )to individuals and families for approved housing units. The subsidy offers families and individuals the option to pay the difference between the actual rent of the owner and the amount of the Housing Voucher.
Additionally, there is also the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which offers energy assistance and weatherization programs. (You won’t need to use candles anymore, just regular ol’ light bulbs, bud.)
One of the main financial assistance government benefits programs is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, which offers payments on a monthly basis. This program targets children and adults with a physical disability and have limited income and resources. The Supplemental Security Income Program also offers payments to seniors at the age of 65 or old, without disabilities, who meet the financial criteria of the Program.
General tax revenues fund The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, offering payments for individuals to maintain basic needs. This includes food, clothing, and shelter. (Not Wi-Fi or fuzzy slippers.) The monthly payment is different from person to person; it depends on your living conditions and income.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a government benefit that helps families, where the parent or caregiver is unable to provide the family’s basic needs. The Department of Health and Human Services administers Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) . The TANF Program is a time-limited program that offers temporary assistance to families by providing cash for a limited period of time.
The TANF program offers cash to low-income families that are working towards becoming self-sufficient. However, the TANF Program recipients have to be working within two years and can only receive the benefit for a certain amount of time, depending on the state.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the TANF Programs plan to accomplish four goals:
- To provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
- To end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
- To prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and
- To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Online Tools to Help You Out
It makes sense that this is confusing right now, like really confusing. You’re just a person who needs help and you want to know how you can find it. Well, thankfully, there are online tools and websites that will help you find the resource you need. These online tools will help you in finding the resource options for your situation.
The most common online tools to help you find resources would be: BenefitsCheckUp, FindMyBenefits, and Benefits.gov. These three online tools will provide you with a search engine that will browse through all the different resources options that are currently available. This will help you find resources that might get you out of your slump. (Do not be pessimistic, you will find something to help you get back on your feet.)
BenefitsCheckUp is a tool provided by the National Council on Aging to provide seniors with accessible resource options in an easy-to-view way. You can find programs on every level from local, to state, to federal. The resources on this tool can help with many problems from the cost of food, utilities, transportation, medicine, and more. It is easy to find benefits designed to help your situation. You will also be able to have a nice variety, because there are over 2,500 resources available across the country.
You will find that this online tool is user friendly, specifically for seniors. It is designed to be easy for people to use. That means you can save your kids from having to deal with you every five minutes. (This is not Facebook or Snapchat; everything is pretty much in front of you. Put down the phone.)
Another tool that would come in handy is FindMyBenefits, which is a pretty neat search engine that allows you to look through all your resource options. It allows you to look up any resource options that are applicable to your living situation. Think of it as a Google for government benefits. (You won’t have to read through countless web pages that still make you feel lost.
Benefits.gov is an official website of the U.S. government. This site aims to help you identify the different resource options available. As you struggle with life, his online tool may be able to assist you. There is a list of government benefit programs that you can sort through by category, from healthcare assistance to disaster relief. (There is a list of them to look through and waste a week looking through.)
In addition, you will find that there is a “Benefit Finder Questionnaire” that you can fill out. This Questionnaire will help you find the benefits you may be eligible for; it will also direct you to the agency you will need to reach out, in order to apply. (It’s fairly self-explanatory, so you will not need to Google the terms to understand what you are looking for.)
For the best results you will need to update your profile to include information about yourself, like location, age, etc. You will need to complete a survey once you provide your basic information. This survey will ask you for details about your medications, income, etc. This profile will help you find programs that fit your specific needs. Once matched, you will have the report of possible assistance options that you should consider applying for!
Dealing with technology and finding resources can be a daunting task, especially as a person who has responsibilities and stuff. Make sure to easily review what assistance options may be available for your situation the right way! It is also important to keep checking back because there are always new and updated programs. (Yes, adulthood sucks.)
On that note, help is on its way, whether it is in the form of food stamps or in housing units. Help will always find its way to you; you should not stop looking for it. Eventually, it will find you and get you out of your slump, no matter what the slump may be. (Have a good day and do not be sad.)
Hayes, Adam. Welfare. 21 04 2021. 19 06 2021 <https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/welfare.asp>.
U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture. SNAP Eligibility. n.d. 19 06 2021 <https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility>.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What is TANF? . n.d. 19 06 2021 <What is TANF?>.