Government Benefits That Could Relieve Your Situation

In this economy, many individuals find themselves needing financial support to make ends meet, provide for their families, afford medical expenses, the list goes on. The government does a good job of making funding opportunities available. These resources include grants, programs, and other financial solutions. The issue is that people have a hard time finding reliable resources. There are so many sites that seem trustworthy but lead to dead ends. These resources were found with you in mind. Each resource will break down the program and how to apply. It’s time you get the financial support you need.

Benefits.Gov

This site will match you to programs you qualify for that provide financial assistance for taxes, living assistance, insurance, or loan repayment. When you go to the site https://www.benefits.gov/, click on “start benefit finder”. It will ask you a series of questions to understand your situation and what programs will be applicable to you. Answer each question truthfully and to the best of your ability. After completing the questions, you will be directed to all the programs you are eligible for. You can then click “expand” on the category you need assistance in. In this case, you will expand the financial assistance section to see what benefits you can apply for. Click on the program that you think best suits your needs. The site will provide more details on the program and provide you the link to apply. The program will also provide a phone number; it’s important to call and directly speak to someone about your situation. It could expedite the application process and furnish you with more specific details.

TANF

The main financial assistance program offered by the government is called TANF. It stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Many individuals get confused because the program name differs based on state even though they provide similar benefits. Depending on the state, this program can also be called Family Assistance, Family Achieving Independence, Family First, etc. Although the names differ, the assistance provided is extremely similar if not exact. Click here to see what the assistance program is called in your state. This program is designed to support low-income families until they can get back on their feet. It does have a maximum limit of 60 months, which is 5 years. Eligible families will be provided a monthly cash allowance which varies on state and is dependent upon income and family size. It normally ranges from $170 - $2,000. It will be distributed through an EBT card and can be spent on basic needs, shelter, transportation, and child care. These funds are available to families in the United States, District of Columbia, the territories, and American Indian Tribes. To be eligible for this program you must:

  • Be a resident of the state you apply in
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident  
  • Be unemployed, or have very low income
  • Have a child 18 years old or younger or are pregnant

Make sure you meet these eligibility requirements before applying. In order to apply, you will need to go through your state and specific counties Department of Human Services/Social Services. You can find your district here or by doing a google search. Once you found your district you will need to file an application with them. This can be done in person or through the mail. It’s better to do it in person to expedite the process and make sure the district receives it. The application varies but click here to see an example of the New York application. After submitting the application, you will need to call and set up a day and time for an interview. This is to verify the information you provided is correct and to ensure you’re eligible. You will need to provide proper documentation. Here is a list of what you should prepare for the interview: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hra/downloads/pdf/benefits/eligibility_factors_and_suggested_documentation_guide.pdf. During this interview you should express if you need emergency assistance. You will be notified within 30 days with a decision letter. This will tell you if you were accepted into the program and the amount of funding that will be provided. Regardless of the decision, the letter will also provide you further assistance options that can help you.

HEAP

This program, also known as the home energy assistance program, is meant to help low-income individuals pay the cost of heating for their homes. Improper heating can lead to unsafe living conditions or health problems. It is important to note this program is federally run and is free. Beware of scams and people trying to charge you. In order to be eligible for this program:

  • You and the members of your household must be US citizens or qualified alien
  • You have a Social Security Number for everyone in your household
  • Your household's gross monthly income is at or below the current income guides for your household size
  • You receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, or Temporary Assistance 

To apply online, start by finding your state’s program. Click here to find your state or click here to find your tribe. If you want to speak to someone directly or have any other questions, you can call 202-401-9351. Once you find your specific application, you will have to answer questions that are personal to you. It will ask you about the people you live with, your income, etc. Make sure to be specific because they will also ask for proof. These are some  documents you should have ready:

  • Proof of residency
  • Photo ID
  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate
  • School record
  • Passport
  • Documentation of a disability for anyone in your household

Once you complete and submit your application, you will be notified within 30 business days if you qualify for assistance. If you are eligible the benefit will be paid either directly to the heating vendor or utility company. You can apply for HEAP every year when the program is open.

Unemployment Assistance

If you were recently laid off, the government provides unemployment compensation to help you financially. The amount of funding is determined by your earnings and state. It will be distributed weekly for a total of 26 weeks. In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits you must:

  • Be out of work for reasons that were not your own fault
  • Meet work and wage requirements
  • Must be actively seeking new employment

Each state’s eligibility requirements vary slightly, make sure you qualify within your state. To begin your application and see your state’s specific requirements, click here. Select your state and you will be directed to the correct online application. Ideally, you will want to file your unemployment claim as soon as you lose your job, but you have a window of 21 days. If your file after 21 days, your claim has a good chance of being denied. When filling out the application you will need your:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s License
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Name and address of employers you worked for in the past 2 years 
  • Recent pay stubs or W-2 form

Once you submit your application, you will be notified within 2-3 weeks if your claim was approved and receive your first payment. You will have an option between direct deposit or a debit card that your state will send you in the mail. Each week you will have to continue to certify your unemployment benefits. This is done by logging into the portal, the same place you applied. You will select “certify benefits” and answer a few quick questions. You will be asked if you are still unemployed and if you are actively seeking a job. By certifying those statements are true, you will continue to receive weekly benefits. Because of the pandemic, individuals who qualified for unemployment assistance should have received an additional $300 weekly payment up until March 14, 2021. This government financial assistance program will help you maintain financial stability.

Covid-19 Stimulus Check For Individuals

Due to the extra financial stress the pandemic has caused, there was a third stimulus passed which 85% of US households qualified for. It goes based on your 2019 or 2020 tax return. The most amount of funding was $1400. The individuals who qualify:

  • Have an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000
  • Are head of the household with an adjusted gross income of up to $112,500
  • Are a couple filing jointly with an adjusted gross income of $150,000
  • Are a child dependents 18 years old or younger
  • Are a child dependent under 24 that is a student
  • Are a child dependent that is permanently or totally disabled

The funds should have been sent by direct deposit or mail and received by mid-March to early April of 2021. You can track the progress of your stimulus check here.

It’s important to remember these are programs from the government. You will not be charged for these services. They are meant to provide you and your family with financial support.

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