There are several forms of government assistance that the government created to help meet the basic needs of the U.S. population. Many government benefits are income-based and are meant to serve low-income individuals. However, some programs also serve special groups of the population like individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, children, veterans and seniors. These programs provide housing assistance, health care and even educational grants.
Some government assistance programs are prevalent and have a vast number of participants. Government programs like Section 8, Medicare or FAFSA are some of the most popular benefits that eligible applicants use. However, there are other benefits that not a lot of people are aware of but provide support for applicants as well as their families.
Discover three forms of government assistance that you may not be aware of. You can learn about their requirements, application process and types of benefits by reading the detailed and complete information below.
1. Learn About LIHEAP
The LIHEAP assistance program is a plan to assist families with low income to cover the cost of energy expenses in their homes. This energy assistance program can help you meet your immediate home energy needs. States, as well as federally recognized tribes, tribal organizations and territories, can apply to receive funding from the program.
The LIHEAP Program targets households with low-incomes. States and grantees must set the income limits for applicants to fall into as follows:
- Applicants must not earn more than the highest 150 percent Federal Poverty Guideline
- Income limit at the state level is at 60 percent of the state median income
- No lower than 110 percent of FPG.
Furthermore, states grant more LIHEAP assistance to households that have the highest energy needs. The LIHEAP program also focuses on targeting families with members with disabilities, elderly members, and with young children.
How to Use LIHEAP Benefits
Government benefits under this energy assistance support are aimed to help keep families safe and healthy. Families that receive LIHEAP can use their benefits to cover the costs associated with home energy bills, weatherization, energy repairs or crises.
The purpose of the LIHEAP Program is to help families stay warm during cold seasons and cool during the spring and the summer. This government assistance ensures that families remain healthy and safe from dangerous heating and cooling issues, or extreme weather.
How to Apply for LIHEAP
Families need to contact their local benefits office to complete their LIHEAP application and determine their eligibility for benefits. Applicants can only apply for LIHEAP limited times a year but not each month depending on the regulations of the state.
Since there is a high demand for the home energy assistance program, you should make an appointment before visiting a LIHEAP office. This ensures that you will be able to complete the application effectively during your visit.
2. Learn About SSI
The Supplemental Security Income benefit, known as SSI, is an income supplement program that the Social Security Administration oversees. This monetary government assistance provides support to the elderly, blind, disabled or individuals with extremely low income. The cash support helps beneficiaries meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Additionally, citizens and eligible non-citizen can qualify for this benefit.
The Social Security Administration pays monthly SSI to the program’s recipients. What is SSI and how this program is different from other SS benefits? Other Social Security benefits target people that have worked and made tax contributions. On the other hand, the Supplement Security Income that recipients may receive does not rely upon previous work or family history, but rather their current situation.
If you apply for SSI, you may also be eligible to receive assistance from other programs like Medicare or food assistance. In some states, the SSI application also serves as an application for food benefits.
How to Apply for SSI
There are several ways you can complete the SSI application, including online, through the phone or in person. Not all SSI applicants are eligible to apply online, and only applicants with disabilities may be able to use this method. Moreover, the phone option offers a deaf or hard hearing line.
You can visit a Social Security Administration office in person or make an appointment through the phone to save time during your application. However, making an appointment to complete your request is not necessary.
You may also receive assistance to apply for SSI or to make an appointment to submit your request. You should complete the SSI application as soon as possible as you cannot start receiving benefits until you file your claim.
SSI Document Requirements
To apply for SSI, you need to provide some documents that may serve as a replacement for others. In other words, you may present paperwork that satisfies two requirements at once. To receive SSI benefits, you will need to provide documents to verify the following:
- Social Security Number – You need to have a Social Security card. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you will be able to request one when you apply for SSI that will be assigned to you once you receive you are entitled to receive benefits.
- Proof of age – Any document that shows your age and date of birth can satisfy this requirement. This includes religious birth records.
- Record of citizenship or alien status – You will need to provide your birth or naturalization certificate or U.S. passport to meet this requirement. Aliens can present a current immigration document like their permanent resident card or I–94 form.
Applicants must be able to provide only original documents. Additional documents for the SSI application include:
- Proof of resources.
- Living arrangements.
- Work history.
- Medical sources (for blind or disabled applicants).
3. Learn About WIC
The Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, program is a federal plan that grants funds for states to provide supplemental foods and other benefits to families. The WIC program targets infants and children as well as pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding. This program also targets low-income individuals that belong to this group.
WIC benefits aim to improve the nutrition of the population group mentioned above, to ensure that they reach and maintain optimal levels of food. State agencies oversee distributing WIC benefits to qualifying applicants and vendors.
Applicants that apply for WIC must meet all the program’s eligibility requirements. The WIC program has four conditions, which are listed below:
- Categorical – Beneficiaries must be infants younger than one year of age, children younger than five years of age and pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women up the infant’s first birthday.
- Residential – WIC program applicants must live in the state where they apply.
- Income – Applicant’s income must fall between 100 percent and at or below 185 FPG depending on the state agency. Applicants who are eligible for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and other state-administered programs may automatically meet this requirement.
- Nutrition risk – Applicants must be considered at nutrition risk by a doctor or other health professional.
To apply for WIC, you must contact your local agency and submit your application with all the information needed to meet the requirements of the program.