Welfare assistance programs and the benefits available come in many forms. There is cash assistance (TANF), free medical care (Medicaid and Medicare), SNAP food stamps, child care and several other entitlements for low income households or families in poverty. Find how to get welfare benefits.
Note welfare is now often called public assistance, but the terminology and names vary by state, region, and even person. Many states also provide their own welfare programs near you, or they partner with the federal government on administering these benefits Some of the free welfare programs only help families living in poverty. Other benefits are for the disabled, immigrants, elderly, the unemployed, or certain age groups, including children. Learn where and how to apply for welfare below.
Note that states may also call these cash assistance as well as medical programs by different names than the federal government. For example, Medicaid, TANF, SNAP and other benefit programs have different names in many states. Some also expedite the application process so that welfare payments can be paid out in an emergency.
Welfare benefits that pay free cash
There are a few services that fall into this category. Maybe the most well known welfare program is TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This benefit is time limited, mandates self-sufficiency in the form of work/job training requirements, and focuses on households with young children. Almost all states offer this or similar cash type financial aid programs. But they are often called different names by each state government. Find welfare office phone numbers.
- States receive grants from the federal government. They then process applications in their respective area and send out TANF (welfare checks) to qualified families. Most of the TANF welfare money goes to the very poor and/or families living under government poverty guidelines. The amount of financial aid for paying for bills, including clothing, housing, energy, etc. is limited. But it may be enough to serve as a “bridge” for the welfare recipient to become self-sufficient. Read more TANF cash assistance.
Welfare assistance also includes disability. The federal government social security administration, or SSA, provides cash as well as grants to individuals with a disability, whether physical or mental. The beneficiary can still work (so that is not the deciding factor to applying) but SSI as well as SSDI can be helpful. The financial assistance for the disabled, or their version of welfare benefits, can be used to pay for everything from medications to home repairs or other basic living expenses.
Public assistance is another name that is commonly associated with welfare benefits near you. However the two are not necessarily the same. As public aid is much more extensive, and can include child care vouchers, low income section 8 housing for subsidized rent, LIHEAP for paying utility bills, and much more. But anyone living in poverty, who is considering applying for welfare assistance, should also look into public assistance programs, which is often a complement to welfare entitlements.
Local, state, and the federal government all partner together, with non-profits as well, to offer financial aid, grants, and other support to families in poverty. This aid is combined with welfare payments. Everything from housing to medications to job programs and more is offered. Learn more on finding and applying for government assistance.
While not as common, a couple other “quasi” welfare cash assistance type programs are Social Security payments for the elderly as well as unemployment insurance. Some people consider these benefits, but others call them more social safety net type assistance programs. In either way money will help participants with their bills, with unemployment in particular being an emergency service. For more information a local social service office can provide details on how to apply, income criteria, and much more.
Many families on welfare or in poverty do not have a bank account or they have very low or no credit. Prepaid cards for the under or unbanked can help them enter the financial mainstream if they so choose. Find how prepaid cards help people with no check or savings accounts.
Welfare vouchers can help pay for transportation too. This is focused on employment or job training needs. Social Services can provide free gas vouchers to people on welfare, help them acquire a used car or truck, and arrange other support. Locate a welfare car voucher.
Health care benefits
Welfare can also take care of the medical as well as dental needs of the poor. Or it also helps senior citizens as well as the disabled. The most well known benefit will be Medicaid, which also includes coverage for teenagers and kids through Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Applications are processed by each state government, not the federal level. However they both contribute funds to pay for some of the medical bills that result from the welfare Medicaid benefit. The assistance programs provides coverage to the poor, individuals with limited savings/assets, and households living in poverty. Medicaid is a welfare benefit that in effect gives beneficiaries almost free health care, medications, and similar services. Find more information on Applying for Medicaid.
Medicare is another government backed welfare benefit. This entitlement operates similar to health insurance, but it is government backed. There are different parts to it (A, B, C, D), and each addresses a certain need. Some will help pay for hospital bills. However other aspects of Medicare do so much more as well.
There are Parts of Medicare that assist with general medical bills, provide free medical supplies, help seniors in nursing facilities, and so much more. Part D also provide free prescription assistance programs. For more details or to apply dial 1-800-633-4227.
This is but one health insurance benefit that citizens can look into. The Medicare welfare program mostly will focus on the disabled or seniors. Anyone else, who does not qualify, can explore a host of other health insurance programs, many of which are free. Combining this type of support, with cash assistance from welfare, can improve access to the health care system in the US for the poor and uninsured.
Families in poverty and who are on welfare can turn to community clinics for the healthcare or dental services they need. They will assist anyone in need, and most offer free care regardless of income, insurance status, race, religion, or citizenship. Many welfare recipients get the care they need, and find free community clinics for no insurance patients.
Food benefits from welfare programs
Very low income families can get help from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is the main USDA hunger prevention program, and it gives families a stipend each month that can help them buy groceries. The welfare benefit is not the same as cash aid, as an EBT card is used. Find how to apply for EBT cards, welfare programs that pay for groceries and help from food stamp benefits.
- Tens of millions of families benefit from food stamps. Many others can, but are not aware of the income criteria or even that SNAP can also process applications in an emergency. So there are some welfare assistance programs with shorter application times than others, and food stamps is one of them. As an EBT card can be issued in a matter of days. Learn more on what food stamps area.
Households can apply for other welfare type programs or entitlements that prevent hunger. There are free school lunches for kids, surplus commodities for the elderly, and many more that are offered by the USDA or state governments. While the federal government may not always call them welfare assistance, some states will refer to them that way. Find a listing of other food assistance programs.
People on welfare will be able to get the stuff they need to prepare food too, such as pots and pans, small kitchen appliances, utensils, and more. This is often provided from a furniture bank which work with social service agencies. The cooking items, furniture, and other items can usually be acquired with a voucher or cash benefits, and get details on welfare furniture programs.
Apply for welfare near you
Each state and county has their own welfare (public assistance) application sites and processes. In general, the benefits are provided by a social service office, with online, telephone and in-person applications provided to welfare programs. Select your state below.
Additional welfare assistance programs
There are other benefits as well. Note the program names, application criteria, and how they operate often varies by state. The federal government human services is another resources for local benefits.
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