The United States government provides its citizens and non-citizens with government benefits in the form of social programs to help low-income families and peoples to have access to basic amenities and necessities
Benefits such as Medicaid, social welfare, and food stamps are accessible to people who need them.
In this article, we explore what some of these government benefits are, who qualifies for them, and how to apply.
- About Government Benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
About Government Benefits
Understandably, some families in the United States of America might not be able to cover important expenses. How can they? Even in a developed country like the USA, the income margin is still wide. The government understands this, and that is why they developed programs like government benefits, grants, and the like.
Government benefits are programs that help people cover basic expenses in their daily lives. These benefits are given to people whose income falls below a particular range or their annual income falls below a designated level.
They are quite different from government grants and loans. First, government grants are not given to individuals. Grants are given to states, organizations, and universities. Also, government loans might be given to individuals, but unlike grants and benefits, they must be repaid.
Examples of Government Benefits
There are several government benefits developed to aid important areas of living in the United States. Of these benefits, the major ones cover areas such as financial assistance, housing, food, and healthcare.
In this article, we will go in-depth on these areas of benefits and look into programs in these areas. We will cover eligibility, how to apply, and other things you need to know about the benefit programs.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a government benefit program aimed at providing aid to low-income seniors, low-income adults and kids, and people with disabilities. It is administered but not funded by Social Security. This benefit offers monthly cash to help cover the cost of food, shelter, clothing, etc. It can also be included in another government benefit, Medicaid.
To be eligible for this benefit, you 65 years of age or older. Other requirements to be eligible include being blind or disabled. Having limited income or limited resources makes you eligible as well. Limited resources applicable for SSI fall under the group of $2,000 for individuals and children.
For a couple, this limit increases to $3,000. All include the requirement of being a U.S. citizen or a national or being in one of the certain categories under the SSI requirements considered as an alien.
To understand the depth of these requirements especially the category of blindness, disability, and the accepted alien category, check out the Social Security website.
How to Apply
To apply for SSI, you may need to apply online for disability benefits. If eligible, that might be a direct link to apply for SSI.
You could also place a call to 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) to place an appointment to apply physically for SSI.
Telecommunications relay services (TRS) assisted calls for the deaf or hard of hearing can also be responded to through, 1-800-772-1213.
Medicaid is another common and vital government benefit program. It helps people with limited income and resources cover the costs of healthcare. It spans personal care services, dental services, services for the elderly, and nursing home care for people with limited resources and funds. It provides free healthcare services and insurance.
Unlike Medicare, another common governmental health aid program, it is funded by both the federal and state government. It is also managed by the state government.
There are few differences in the features of the Medicaid program by state, but each follows a basic healthcare program. The differences come from how the state perceives the conditions of the awardees in that state and are influenced by political and cultural beliefs.
To cut through the complications in this benefit program, Medicaid eligibility is linked to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The AFDC provides aid to children and families who have low or no income, while the SSI provides aid to the elderly, blind, and disabled.
How to Apply
Applicants must be people with low income, children who fall below a certain age, pregnant women, parents of Medicaid-eligible children, low-income disabled people who receive SSI support and/or Social Security Disability (SSD), and low-income elderly people who are aged 65 and older.
You can apply for Medicaid in one of two ways. You can contact your state Medicaid agency directly, where you will be provided with details on how to complete the application. Note that you must be a resident of the particular state in which you are applying for Medicaid.
You can also fill out an application form directly through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), is another health benefits program similar to the benefits of Medicaid. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP is focused solely on children.
It targets children who are not covered by Medicaid benefits because their parent’s wage is above the quota for Medicaid. It offers free or low-cost medical and dental care to uninsured kids up to age 19.
The eligibility of the CHIP program varies by state. Overall, they follow the same guidelines which involve the child in question to be of a family whose income is higher than the Medicaid qualifications, but still considered too low to afford health coverage for the child(ren).
It covers children from birth through adult age, although this higher age limit also varies with the state.
How to Apply
Similar to the Medicaid application process, you have to contact your state CHIP program or fill out an application form.
Again, you either find the direct CHIP program for your state or call the Health Insurance Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596.
Alternatively, you can fill out an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, also referred to as “welfare”, is aimed at mobilizing families to stand on their own and not be too dependent on the Government. TANF is a federal assistance program that is designed to be temporary. It has varying limits to supplement the family’s income, but its maximum benefit is two consecutive years and five years lifetime period.
Among the benefits include the provision of cash benefits to needy families to care for their children, promoting job preparation, and cutting overdependence on the Government. Three conditions could lead to exiting the benefits program.
The first is that an individual may no longer qualify for TANF assistance due to acquired employment. Another is that the recipient may no longer qualify if he has reached the maximum time allowed, which is five years.
The last form that could lead to discontinuity if the wage or income you are receiving is still not enough to help cover expenses. Generally, to be eligible for TANF, you must belong to a low-income family, be pregnant, have a child 18 years or younger, or be the head of a family at the age of 18 years or younger.
How to Apply
Once you are a recipient, you must be ready to start work as soon you reach working age. This is where the effort comes in. The span of work must not exceed two years after receiving the TANF benefit, otherwise, it may lead to the disqualification of the recipient.
There are also some exceptions to this type of recipients under this rule. As with other benefit programs, you can apply for the TANF program online or at your local, which means your state Community Services Office.
That way you can understand more if you are eligible, and also know if you would be granted the benefits from the program.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly and popularly known as food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is aimed at providing food aid to those who cannot afford it. And to those who cannot afford a continuous sustainable balanced meal. It is a federal benefit that covers people of low-income and no income.
As with health benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, SNAP is an essential factor as it involves the provision of food to those who cannot afford it. General food items can be purchased with SNAP, but items such as food baskets and live animals and birds may not be purchased, but live fish and shellfish can be purchased
It is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture but is distributed by certain specific departments of the US states such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
The eligibility for the SNAP benefits program varies by state, and individuals must meet certain criteria. Among these criteria include the income requirements falling under the federal cap level. Work and resource limitations are also considered as well as housing limitations.
How to Apply
Students are eligible for this benefit if they meet these criteria, although their requirements differ from the general public. Requirement for students from poor homes and backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students who are physically or mentally unfit to work. SNAP also covers the elderly and the disabled as well.
It follows the same or similar application process as other government benefits. Usually, an applicant must first fill out a program application and return that form to the state or local SNAP office.
Each state has a different application process, but most times, they are available online for easy access.
Government benefit programs are quite important and essential to help citizens to survive. This article listed a few basic ones.
There are still lots of other important benefits out there for you to explore, check if you are eligible, and apply.