Life can be expensive! Every household has to deal with regular costs such as housing, groceries, and healthcare. However, many Americans face challenges when it comes to affording these basic necessities. Fortunately, the federal government recognizes that some families need relief. This is why there are opportunities that offer assistance in many different ways!
How to Find Out About the Various Government Assistance Programs Available
There are over 2,200 assistance programs offered by the federal government. Each program is designed to fulfill a different need. All types of people can benefit from government programs, including adults, youth, and even babies. You might be wondering how you can find out what program is right for you. Benefits.gov is a government website that provides information and helpful tips about assistance opportunities. The website organizes programs by the different categories that they fit into.
Different Ways to Browse Programs on Benefits.gov
Searching by category isn’t the only way you can browse through the different relief options that are available. This website also allows users to search by government agency. Some agencies fund multiple programs! For example, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers various housing assistance opportunities.
Perhaps one of the most efficient ways to use Benefits.gov is to utilize their Benefits Finder search engine. This tool is useful for people who are getting started and don’t know what kind of assistance is best for them. This is because the search engine recommends specific assistance options that make the most sense for that particular user. It works by having the user answer questions and enter details about their personal situation. The site then uses that information to sort through opportunities that can help with their circumstances. It’s important to keep in mind that the recommendations do not guarantee that the user qualifies for any of the programs. However, the website does provide information about the next steps they can take to apply to a program.
Helpful Assistance Opportunities Offered by the Federal Government
You should do your own research when it comes to deciding which assistance opportunity can best help your situation. As we said, Benefits.gov is a great starting point to do so! However, let’s review some popular assistance options from different categories. You can consider the following programs when going over your options:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
For families and individuals struggling to afford the cost of food, there are programs like SNAP that can help. Recipients are provided with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. The benefits that the recipient is awarded are electronically loaded to their EBT card each month. SNAP provides nutrition assistance by covering some of the cost of groceries for qualifying households. Keep in mind that EBT isn’t accepted as payment at every store.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI provides qualifying individuals with monthly cash assistance that can be used to purchase necessities such as clothing and food. It’s completely up to the recipient what they choose to spend their benefits on. The amount of benefits an individual may qualify for in 2023 is up to $914 per month. Those that can qualify include individuals that are disabled and unable to work, as well as seniors.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Children that are younger than 19 years old can benefit from this assistance option. You may have guessed from the name that this program offers affordable healthcare coverage. Services that are covered by this insurance include medical supplies, medical tests, screenings, and more. Families that qualify for CHIP typically cannot afford private health insurance and don’t qualify for other government health coverage, such as Medicaid.
This is just one of the housing assistance options offered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Housing costs are often a family’s biggest monthly expense. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, can help qualifying households get access to affordable and safe housing. Both potential applicants and current recipients work with their local Public Housing Authority (PHA). This is where one can apply, as well as get more information on the program.
Families that are able to receive assistance through Section 8 are awarded a monthly voucher. The voucher is applied to the recipient’s rent on their behalf. Financial assistance is not the only advantage of Section 8. Recipients are also able to choose their own rental property to live in and are not limited to a certain area. However, finding a rental unit to live in can be a challenge. This is because the property needs to pass an inspection done by the PHA. In addition to that, the owner of the property needs to be willing to accept housing vouchers. Although landlords are afforded tax incentives to accept them, they are not required to. Lastly, approved applicants may wait months or even years before receiving their vouchers. This is because there is a greater need for affordable housing than the program can provide at one time!
Housing costs are not limited to just rent or mortgage payments. Housing expenses also include utility bills such as heating and electricity. Depending on the size of the home and other factors, utility bills can add up to be more than a family can handle. This is especially true for families that are already struggling financially. LIHEAP helps low-income families lower their energy costs in various ways. First, this program offers recipients monthly cost assistance on their energy bill. Second, qualifying households can benefit from repairs and upgrades that make the home more energy efficient, therefore lowering their energy costs in the future. Furthermore, these repairs are effective for lowering the risk of mishaps that can happen as a result of outdated or damaged energy equipment.
Families that are struggling to make ends meet may wonder if there are any ways that they can get relief. There are government assistance options that can help people with a variety of needs. The federal government provides individuals and families with healthcare, nutrition assistance, affordable housing, and more. Furthermore, people of all different ages and backgrounds can benefit from these options!
When it comes to reviewing what options are out there, Benefits.gov is a great place to start. Visitors to this website can utilize their helpful search engine, Benefits Finder, to narrow down assistance programs that make sense for them. This website also provides information on the over 2,200 assistance programs as well as tips on the next steps to take. When it comes to finding the right government program for you and your family, it depends on your current situation. Each of the programs discussed can offer help in many different categories and some households may be able to qualify for more than one program at a time.