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Help when public assistance is denied.

If the state or federal government denies an application to receiving government aid, all applicants have rights available to them. Many of the programs, such as cash or medical assistance, are administered at the state level. Others, including Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) or SSDI disability, are processed by federal organizations. No matter what government entity denies an application, families have legal rights as well as consumer protections available to them.

There are ways to get help with contesting a denial as well. While of course a family can do it themselves, other options available include using a free legal aid program or using the services provided by an advocate. Those are two of the most common resources available to help people that have been denied government assistance.

Process to get help when denied

It is always recommended for each person to determine eligibility. The applicant should closely review the government criteria. Each entitlement program has different income thresholds, time-frames, and criteria in place. If they need help with this, and advocate can assist. For example:

  • TANF cash assistance, or welfare grants, will normally be time limited so it runs out and a family can't reapply.
  • Section 8 HUD vouchers will normally require the tenant to have a source of income.
  • SNAP food stamps are generally for very low income families, with a graduated income scale based on the number of household members.
  • Cash aid from disability will require proof from a doctor or health care professional on the medical conditions, otherwise it can be denied.
  • LIHEAP is limited to certain months and requires copy of utility bills, age of the applicant, birth certificates, and more.
  • Medical assistance, or Medicaid, tends to be for households living in poverty with no other insurance available.

Each and every public benefit program has different application criteria. Always closely review the terms and conditions as well as the reason for the denial. As the government should have sent some form of letter to the applicant that provides the specifics of why they were denied. Specialists or attorneys can help with this review, and more information is below.




After this assessment, if the applicant is confident that they should be entitled to government aid, then they can proceed with an appeal process. Applicants have the right to ask for a meeting with a case worker from the local government office. This can be at a county social service office or social security center. There should be a phone number to call on the denial letter sent to set up a conference. Or some municipality may require a written appeal form to be completed.

During this session the applicant can say why they should be receiving cash assistance or the other benefit they have applied too. They can make their case as to why they should not have been denied. This conference provides the ability the ability to make their case.

Denials can also be contested from state hearings. This can be effective when a low income family has been denied SNAP food stamps, welfare or cash assistance, as those programs are often approved or denied by the state. As with any hearing held, be prepared with proof of income, disability (if applicable), identification, and more.

Since this is a more formal, escalated process it may be beneficial to bring a representative. This form of help with the appeal will be provided by the hundreds of law firms that provide free legal aid. This is one of their core competences. They work to ensure that each and every family living in poverty has their rights enforced when it comes to applying for government assistance. Find information on free legal services.

The state will often be representative by a hearing officer. They serve as a sort of mediator. They will ask questions of the applicant. Information is also obtained from the state representative that denied the application to cash assistance or housing. Based on all this data, the mediator will make a decision. Since this is a more formal process, and often the last chance to get an application approved, it is recommended to have some type of advocate or lawyer on site.

Be sure to adhere to any timeframes to appeal a denial. The process will vary by state, but families normally have a matter of a few weeks to take action. Once that period of time expires then it is no longer possible to get assistance for that particular application.





Help is solving denial of specific benefits

SSI disability is maybe the most difficult cash assistance program to get. The majority of applications are denied one or more times. The screening process is intense and there are a number of requirements that need to be met in order to be approved. There is help for this process though.

Many people use an advocate when applying for disability. This is a highly trained professional in which their only job is to go through the process with the client and the local Social Security Office. They will ensure that all of the documentation is in place, attend hearings, and address any other reasons for the denial. Find more information on the disability appeal process.

When a SNAP food stamp application has been denied, there are ways to get a fair hearing from the government to reevaluate the application. The exact process will vary by state and county, but in general the appeal process will address everything from the amount paid on an EBT card to whether the family receives food stamps or not. There may also be emergency approvals of this benefit for seniors, single parents with kids, or the disabled. Read more on solving food stamp denials.


By Jon McNamara

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