When money is tight and help is needed, it can be difficult to know where to go. The good news is that there are helpful Federal Benefit Programs out there to help low-income families meet basic needs. It’s important to know that the exact set of benefits can vary by state, so you will need to check with your local Department of Family Services agency to see which program qualifications you meet.
The following is a rundown of programs you can inquire about.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
If you have children, TANF, which used to be known as “welfare,” provides a number of benefits for low-income families.
Let’s look at some of the basics:
- Who qualifies? Pregnant women or a parent responsible for at least one child under 19 years of age. You must also be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien and meet the poverty requirements. If you are unemployed or will be soon, you will want to explore this option.
- What does TANF provide? Marriage and family services, childcare assistance, work assistance, job preparation, and financial assistance.
The primary goal of TANF is to help families obtain or regain self-sufficiency.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Families experiencing financial hardship are usually not able to obtain quality food. SNAP, which is the newer version of the Food Stamp program, gives low-income families access to better food options.
To find out if you qualify for SNAP, there is an online pre-screening tool to complete before filling out an application. Once you apply, you will need to complete an interview. It’s possible to receive benefits in as little as a week. Your food assistance cash amount will be loaded on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card so it can be used just like a debit card at the grocery checkout. It’s important to ensure that your chosen grocery store accepts your state’s EBT.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC helps low-income families provide proper nutrition for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to five years of age. A nutritional risk must be determined, which is typically done by looking at income. Medical exams are required while receiving the benefit to ensure children receiving benefits are thriving nutritionally.
The benefits include supplemental nutritious foods like milk, formula, baby food, cereal, cheeses, juices, grains, and more; nutrition counseling and education; and referrals to beneficial social services like SNAP or TANF.
About Medicare Benefits
Healthcare costs are on the climb and it has become an issue in our country. This causes individuals over the age of 65 or those with disabilities to face an important decision: whether to take care of their health or feed themselves. Medicare has four different parts that include Medical Insurance, Hospital Insurance, Prescription Drug Coverage, and Medicare Advantage Plans. Qualifying individuals must choose the part or parts that work for their specific situation.
About Medicaid Benefits
Medicaid is more widely available to individuals because there are no age restrictions. The benefit provides low-cost or free health care to low-income people, children, families, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled. In states that have opted into Medicaid expansion, all low-income adults can be covered. You can use the Affordable Care Act website to determine if you qualify for Medicaid in your state based on the income requirements. It’s important to take advantage of this benefit if you qualify because staying healthy can help you get your finances under control.
Obtain the Medical Benefits You Need
The above is a list of federal benefit programs, but there are others that can help you with your needs and current situation. Check at your nearest city or county information center.