What Can Help You Understand Available Support

Countless people struggle with expenses like groceries, housing, medical bills, and more. Sadly, they may also not realize that there are free government assistance opportunities out there that can help. Luckily, the government understands this can be a problem, which is why they have resources that can help people look through available opportunities. 

Resources to Help People Find Support Options

There are many different government programs that can assist. Even though there are a variety of options available, there is a downside. The downside is that it can be hard to know where to start, and which may be a good aid opportunity for your situation. However, there is a resource available that details over 1,000 government support opportunities! This resource is Benefits.gov.

What is Benefits.Gov?

This government website is an information hub of a variety of government assistance options. Besides containing information about different programs, it also has a tool on the site that can help individuals find programs that may be able to help their specific situation. This tool is called the Benefit Finder tool. It acts as a questionnaire that asks for details about a person’s situation such as their income level, family size, etc. Users that fill out the questionnaire will see results based on the information they put in. While the tool cannot guarantee eligibility for the programs, it can point the user in the right direction. The only true way to determine eligibility for a program is to apply.

Besides the Benefit Finder tool, users can also browse benefits by agency or category. It can be easier to search by category for most people. The available categories include the following:

  • Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Disaster Relief
  • Family and Children Services
  • Education and Training
  • Employment and Career Development
  • Financial Assistance
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Grants
  • Healthcare and Medical Assistance
  • Housing and Public Utilities
  • Immigration and Refugee Assistance
  • Loans
  • Military: Active Duty and Veterans
  • Social Security and Retirement
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Some people prefer the option of searching by the agency. For example, you may know there is a program offered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but you aren’t sure what it’s called. You can look at programs only available through HUD on the site!

What Kinds of Programs Are Out There?

When it comes to government programs that can help, there are a lot of options to consider. Each program focuses on helping out those in need in their own way. Some popular kinds of federal programs include the following:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Groceries are an expense that people need to deal with one way or another. However, it is difficult for many Americans, especially those that have big families to feed. This is where the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help. This program is available thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It provides funds to recipients every month through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. The card can be used in stores that accept the cards as a form of payment. It’s important to note that the funds can only go towards eligible food items. That means not anything from the grocery store qualifies. The amount that a recipient can get will depend on factors found on their application like income level, family size, etc. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Regardless of whether you call it Section 8 or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, this is an assistance opportunity that can help recipients get affordable housing. Even though it is a program available thanks to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it is managed at the local level through Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). It gives eligible households vouchers that can go towards the cost of renting a housing unit in the private market. However, not every property in the market accepts these vouchers as a type of payment. Even the ones that do accept these vouchers need to pass criteria set by the local PHA, which includes a home inspection. If you want to apply or get more information, then you will want to get in touch with your local PHA. Those that need even further assistance can reach out to their local HUD Field Office. 

Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Another food assistance opportunity on this list is WIC. This is a program that focuses its efforts on women, infants, and children up to five years old. Those that are eligible for this program can benefit through vouchers, food, referrals, education, and more. For more information or to begin the application process, you will need to get in touch with your local WIC office. 

Medicaid

Another common cost that Americans need to deal with is healthcare expenses. It can be hard to handle the cost of private insurance and even harder to deal with the cost of healthcare without any insurance. That is where Medicaid can help. This federal health insurance program can provide health coverage to qualifying Americans for free (or for a more affordable rate). While it is a federal program, it will vary by state. However, regardless of the state, it will still need to comply with federal guidelines. 

Child Nutrition Programs

Nutrition is an important part of a healthy childhood. That is why the government has a variety of child nutrition programs that can help students who qualify. Some available programs include the following:

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

Schools, whether they are public or nonprofit private, can benefit from this opportunity. This program gives nutritious lunches at either an affordable rate or at no cost to eligible children during the school year. 

Special Milk Program (SMP)

Milk is important to the growth of a healthy child for plenty of reasons. Qualifying schools will get reimbursement for the milk they serve. 

School Breakfast Program (SBP)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for children. This program will reimburse schools (and residential child care facilities) that have and operate breakfast programs. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Families can find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to getting health coverage for their kids. They may make too much to be eligible for Medicaid but still make not enough to comfortably handle the cost of private insurance coverage. That is where CHIP comes in. This program provides medical and dental health coverage at an affordable rate to children until they are 19 years old. Some of the services that are covered by CHIP include medical tests, preventative care, hospital care, and more.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Having a low income is already hard enough. However, it can be even harder for people who are elderly or have a disability. Luckily, SSI may be able to help. This program provides up to $1,261 to those that qualify as of 2022. The funds that recipients get can go towards handling necessary expenses like housing, food, and more. 

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

While housing is a tough cost for many Americans, so are utility bills. That is why LIHEAP aims to provide some relief for that issue. Some of the benefits of this program include home weatherization, home energy bill support, and even minor energy-related home repairs. For more information, you can get in touch with the LIHEAP toll-free number at 1-866-674-6327.

Bottom Line

When you are dealing with tough times, it can feel like there is no support out there. But that’s not the case! Instead, there are a variety of assistance options available that can help with a variety of issues. Since there are so many programs, the government created Benefits.gov. This website details over 1,000 different programs and even has tools for users to take advantage of, like the Benefit Finder tool. Users can also choose to look for programs by the agency or category. There are plenty of popular options that help Americans. Some common opportunities include:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
  • Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Medicaid
  • Child Nutrition Programs
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Each program will be able to help in its own way. When you find yourself dealing with hardships, you will want to take a deep breath and remember there may be support for your situation. You just need to know where to look!