Many American households are barely making ends meet. If that is the case for you, there is a good chance you have had to make tough decisions when it comes to your budget. Unfortunately when times are hard, families find themselves cutting back on basic necessities like healthcare and groceries. However, many people might not know that there are a variety of federal assistance opportunities that may be able to help. Eligible recipients of these programs get benefits like cash assistance, health coverage, and help with costs like rent! You might be wondering what programs are out there and how do you know which one could be right for you.
How to Find Available Assistance Options
Understanding your personal situation is necessary to know which government opportunity is right for you. In order to know what kind of help you can get, you need to know what programs are out there. Benefits.gov is a great resource for this! Keep in mind that in order to benefit from any of these programs, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements.
How Does Benefits.gov Help?
This government website has different options to search and browse the programs. Benefits.gov is the home of information for the numerous government assistance programs available! But how do you use the website? First, visit the website and click on either of these options:
Browse Benefits: One way to find programs is by browsing them by category or agency. When searching by agency, you’ll browse through the departments that operate each assistance program. These are agencies like The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and others! On the other hand, the options to search by category are:
- Disaster Relief
- Healthcare and Medical Assistance
- Education and Training
- Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability
- Housing and Public Utilities
- Family and Children’s Services
- Financial Assistance
- Military: Active Duty and Veterans
- American Indian and Alaska Native
- Food and Nutrition
- Immigration and Refugee Assistance
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Employment and Career Development
- Social Security and Retirement
Benefits Finder: This search engine helps you narrow down which government programs are best for your situation. However, you want to remember that if a program is recommended to you, there isn’t a guarantee that you qualify. There is only one way to know for certain if you are eligible for any assistance and that is to submit an application! The database works by asking a few questions about you, your household, and what you might need help with. After that it suggests a couple of programs that make the most sense for you.
Federal Assistance Options to Consider
The resources above allow you to search through the different assistance programs available. Below we will cover various programs that you might come across when reviewing what is out there. You can consider the following federal assistance opportunities:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is federally funded by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Eligible recipients that are accepted into the program are sent an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This is how households can access their benefits. It is important to be aware that not all stores accept EBT. Not only that, recipients can only buy certain food items with their funds. This is because SNAP is a food assistance program meant for low-income families.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
This federal program is managed and administered by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). The program provides eligible people and families with affordable housing. Eligible recipients of Section 8 are awarded vouchers that are used towards the cost of rent. Once accepted, recipients are responsible for finding their own rental property. However, vouchers cannot be used for any rental property. First, the property needs to pass an inspection. Your local PHA will take care of the inspection. Second, not all landlords accept vouchers as payment despite there being a tax incentive.
If you’re interested in benefiting from this program, you will need to apply. If your application is approved, you can expect to be placed on a waiting list. The waiting time can range from months or years before you can start to receive assistance. If you would like more information about the HCV program, the best place to turn is your local PHA. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate and up to date information.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The potential benefits, as of 2023, from this program can be $914 per month for a single person or $1,371 for a couple! SSI is provided as cash assistance each month. This way, recipients can use their benefits for food, clothing, housing, or whatever they need. People who are low-income and are a senior or have a disability may be eligible for this program. This also includes those who are blind with low-income.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Essentials such as heat in the home are necessary for everyday life. That is why the government created this program. They help households that have a hard time covering utility bills. Not only that, improper heating and cooling can cause unexpected accidents. A major part of this program is to lower a person’s risk of this type of occurrence. With that in mind, the LIHEAP provides assistance to their recipients in a few ways. Through ways like home energy bill assistance, home weatherization, and small energy related home repairs. If you would like more information on this program, call their toll free number at 1-866-674-6327!
Medicaid helps low-income families and individuals get health insurance at a cost they can afford or completely free! When it comes to Medicaid, the states administer the coverage, as well as act according to federal requirements. Millions of Americans are without health insurance for reasons like not having access to coverage through a job. Without it, medical bills can quickly become an overwhelming expense! Actually, America’s largest source of debt is in fact unpaid medical bills. This is why a program like Medicaid is important!
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
This program covers expenses like medical tests and screenings, medical supplies, preventative care, hospital services, and more! This health insurance program provides medical and dental coverage. The coverage is affordable and intended for children 19 years or younger. Families that don’t qualify for Medicaid may need help with health coverage for their kids. Health insurance premiums are expensive, especially for the whole family! It is understandable why someone may need to benefit from CHIP.
Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC was created with the health of women and children in mind. States receive grant funds to be used for food assistance, health care referrals, and nutrition education. To apply to this program or get more information contact your local WIC office! This program provides various assistance to low-income women, infants, and children younger than 5 years.
To Sum It Up
If you’re struggling right now, it’s important to remember that there are options that can help make your situation better. There are various assistance options that could provide the support you need on the local, state, and federal level. To find out what assistance programs you might be able to benefit from, visit Benefits.gov! You can use the tool Benefits Finder to recommend appropriate programs for your current situation. It is important to spend time researching options that might be right for you! It is worth it means that it could help you come out on the other side of your situation. There are resources available to you, you just need to know what steps to take!