Eligibility requirements to receive welfare and cash assistance:
Eligibility requirements need to be met by applicants in order to receive assistance through various welfare programs including, but not limited to, cash assistance, food stamps, energy assistance, subsidized daycare and housing assistance. Applicant needs to be a resident of the state and United States citizen or eligible non citizen so as to qualify for the welfare programs. In addition to that, work or school requirements and income guidelines also need to be met. You can make use of the official “eligibility check” tool available online to know in advance whether you meet the guidelines. Applicants who are deemed ineligible by the online tool are suggested to visit the social services and double check.
To apply for benefits, visit the local DHS office and meet a case worker. You will be given information on documentation required to be submitted to them along with the filled out paperwork. Alternatively, make a note of all required documents by visiting your state official DHS website and provide them to the case worker on your very first visit. Typically, proof of dependants, proof of income, proof of identity and proof of residence need to be submitted so that the information you provided in the application form can be verified. Note that in addition to meeting the income guidelines, applicants need to work towards employment and self-sufficiency by either looking for work or enrolling themselves in job training. Those not complying with the work requirements will be denied continued welfare assistance.
An overview on available welfare programs:
1. Cash assistance or TANF – Cash assistance is offered solely to the families with dependent children who meet the set income guidelines. These guidelines vary based on the family size, and approved applicants receiving benefits must work towards gaining employment. The primary goal is to assist families receiving little to no income temporarily and aid them in their transition towards financial stability.
Individuals seeking financial assistance must look for “general assistance” in their state as TANF is available only for needy families. It must be noted that not all states offer general assistance. Call social services to know if this offered in your state.
2. Housing assistance – public housing and section 8:
Families searching for affordable and sanitary housing will find the housing welfare program immensely helpful. Assistance for tenants is offered in the form of public housing and section 8. Applicants approved for public housing are offered safe shelter with minimal rent in one of the housing projects managed by the local housing agency. In case of section 8, one can choose private housing and ask for rental assistance with the same. Rental assistance will be offered directly to the landlord which, in most cases, will not cover the entire rent, and the difference has to be paid by you. Applicants will find that although entire rent does not get covered through section 8, the amount they will have to contribute will be affordable and tailored to their gross income.
3. Food stamps:
Food assistance is offered in the form of SNAP card. This can be used to buy food items at stores near you that participate in the program. Amount of benefits you are approved for will hinge on your income and family size. Any significant reduction in the income after the card reaches you can be reported if you wish your benefits to be recalculated.
4. Affordable Health care for kids, childcare assistance, and assistance for heating costs:
In addition to the aforementioned welfare programs, programs offering affordable health insurance for kids not having private health insurance, help with daycare expenses and help with paying the heating costs are also available. Eligibility for these programs will be determined by the case worker at the DSS.
5. Medicaid: Read our article on medicaid to know the basics and what gets offered under the program.
6. Crisis assistance: A number of states, in addition to offering programs aimed at helping families temporarily, also have crisis assistance in place. Immediate cash assistance is offered to those demonstrating they are in a situation that is deemed crisis.