The first thing to remember when you find yourself in a critical economic situation is that, regarding financial assistance, there are many more options than it might first appear. It may take a little research, but government programs are as copious and varied as the needs they meet.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the different programs there are out there, their profiles and requirements. Keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive and that there are many more benefit plans awaiting out there. The criteria used for the selection that appears in the present article pertains only to the need to give the reader a varied sample of the existing programs, while trying to encompass all the needs with which he/she could be struggling to meet his/her debts.
“…regarding financial assistance, there are many more options than what it would appear at first sight”
However, even before you start looking for any kind of assistance program, you need to take some crucial previous steps that will make your efforts more profitable:
- Stop making new debt: this includes taking control of your credit card usage.
- Prioritize your existing debts: in other words, decide where the money is going to go. Water, electricity, medical debts, food should always be on the top of your list, right above your TV and cellphone bills of which you can take care of later.
- Contact your provider: most companies will be willing to negotiate and help you create a plan to pay the bill in installments, so don’t hesitate to call them.
- Make a payment plan.
Once you have taken these very simple steps, you are ready to start looking for the financial assistance program that best suits your needs.
Launched in 2002 (then known as GovBenefits.gov), this program’s mission is to “reduce the expense and difficulty of interacting with the government while increasing citizen access to government benefit information.” At the site’s core lays the “Benefit Finder”, an eligibility prescreening questionnaire which, depending on the given answers, will assess the visitor’s situation, match it with its suitability for more than 1,200 benefit and assistance programs, and help citizens figure out how to apply for them.
Benefits.gov has grown in collaboration from the ten original Federal agency partners in 2002 to the current 17 Federal agencies, which include the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Veteran Affairs, as well as the Social Security Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, among others.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
This federal program, also known as welfare “…grants money to states to provide short-term financial and supportive assistance to low-income families with children under 18 years old”, although “initiatives to reduce non-marital childbearing and promote marriage can provide some types of services to persons who are not needy or parents.”
While requirements for applicants vary from state to state, it does entail finding a job (for which the program provides counseling, job training and placement services), with a minimum amount of weekly hours (in order to stay in the program) ranging from 30 to 55, depending on the household circumstances: single-parented or two-parented home.
Food, housing, child care, home energy and transportation are just some of the helpful benefits the recipients may qualify for if they decide to apply for the program.
If you would like to know more about its purposes and eligibility conditions, visit this Policy Basics: An Introduction to TANF.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Since 1981, LIHEAP has been helping the country’s most vulnerable population meet its heating and cooling necessities, currently providing assistance to roughly 6.7 million households. Bill payments, energy crisis assistance and weatherization and energy-related home repairs are some of the expenses covered by the program, while the eligible population includes the working poor, disabled persons, those making the transition from welfare to work, families with young children and the elderly.
To apply for help, contact your local LIHEAP agency. You can also visit liheap.org, where you can find demographic information and connect with your congressional delegation.
When it comes to health issues, it must be a relief to know that there is, not one or two, but a considerable amount of possibilities from which you can choose the one that better suits your particular needs. Here we will briefly present some of them.
The first thing to have in mind is that some hospitals offer discounts and partial or full bill forgiveness to qualifying patients, depending on their conditions, relating to the federal poverty guidelines. This information can be found on the hospital’s website, or you can call its billing department.
Government assistance is the following option on the list. The above-mentioned Benefits.gov is the ideal tool for this kind of research, allowing you to navigate through a wide variety of healthcare programs. Finally, crowdfunding for medical bills has become an essential tool in recent years. Reaching the financial goal of worthy causes through online donation by family members, friends and even strangers is easier than you may think at first, so it is definitely worth a shot.
If you are interested in more information about this approach, GoGetFunding.com is an excellent place to start.
As you can see, the number of options available out there is considerable. It just takes a little amount of proper research to find the alternative that best suits your needs. At Premier Consumer, we hope to have given you the necessary help for you take the first step towards a life of prosperity and abundance. It is closer than you think!