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Tool for Finding Assistance at the Federal Level

When you find yourself in a pickle, it can feel like there’s no way out! Luckily that’s not necessarily the case. That’s because there are plenty of different options that people can benefit from at no cost. Why do these options exist? Thanks to the federal government! There are free federal programs that aim to help people with a variety of different situations that they can find themselves in.

However, there are so many options that it can be confusing to look through them all. Especially when you consider the fact that you need to find programs that could be good for your situation (not just any program!). Thankfully, tools like the one below exist to help people in need navigate all of these opportunities.

Finding Assistance Programs With These Tools

Every program receives funding from the government and only helps those who qualify. Other than that, a lot of programs serve different purposes. Due to the wide range of opportunities out there, the federal government created a really useful tool called benefits.gov.

Benefits.gov

This online tool can help you to look through federal support programs. One of the biggest benefits is that it could even help you find opportunities that could be a right fit for your situation! There are two options you can choose on the site if you want to browse through available options:

  • Benefits Finder
  • Browse Benefits

Benefits Finder

If you choose to look for opportunities through the Benefits Finder tool, then you can expect to fill out a survey. This questionnaire looks at the answers that a user inputs and  analyzes the most suitable opportunities available according to what their needs are. Once done answering the questions, the survey will filter through all the federal government programs available. You will be offered programs that you might be eligible for. However, you must keep in mind that there are no guarantees. That’s because applying for the program you are interested in is the only way to find out whether you qualify or not.

Browse Benefits

You can find programs with another option other than the Benefits Finder tool. This tool enables you to look for benefits based on the agency that’s responsible for the program. You can also search through programs based on the category of the type of program.

These are the options you will find when looking in terms of category specifically:

  • Healthcare and Medical Assistance
  • Housing and Public Utilities
  • Disaster Relief
  • Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Education and Training
  • Employment and Career Development
  • Financial Assistance
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Immigration and Refugee Assistance
  • Military: Active Duty and Veterans
  • Social Security and Retirement
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Federal Programs to Think About

There are tools that can help you find federal programs, but there are also specific programs that you should consider. Think about the following federal programs:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Americans have to keep up with grocery costs. This is why the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created SNAP. Recipients get benefits through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that has funds transferred to it each month. Those that receive benefits can use the funds on eligible groceries at supermarkets that allow these cards as payment. The exact amount that people can get varies on their situation. However, there are maximum limits in place. For example, the maximum amount that a household of six can get for certain states is $1,386 (as of Oct. 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024).

Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

There are groups of people who need a specific kind of help compared to others, which is where WIC comes into play. This program helps women who are pregnant, infants, and kids up to 5 years old. Eligible recipients can receive vouchers, meals, referrals for support services, and education. If you want more information or if you want to apply, then you can contact your local WIC office.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

People with limited income who are elderly or have a disability or are blind could benefit from SSI through monthly cash assistance. For 2024, cash assistance could reach up to $943 a month for an individual or $1,415 for a couple. Those who benefit from this program can use the money towards basic necessities of life. This could include:

  • Groceries
  • A place to live
  • Clothes

Housing Choice Voucher Program

This housing aid program also goes by the name of Section 8, and it helps those who need affordable housing. Qualifying people can use housing vouchers that Section 8 provides to pay for housing costs. However, not every property is able to participate in Section 8. Properties that can participate must accept these vouchers as a payment type, among other requirements. Other requirements include meeting standards set by the local Public Housing Authority (PHA).

Unfortunately, this will make only a limited number of properties available. If interested in this program, you have to hand in an application. Your application must go through your local PHA. They can also offer useful information and answer any questions you might have. If you are fortunate and receive approval, then you have a high likelihood of going onto a waiting list. However, be mindful that these waiting lists take a while, maybe a few months or even years!

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

LIHEAP can provide support with energy bills. Qualifying recipients can get benefits from this program in the form of the following:

  • Support on home energy bills
  • Weatherization that takes place in your home
  • Small repairs in your home that are energy-related

The best part of LIHEAP is that it helps people decrease the possibility of facing unexpected issues. Typically, these issues happen from not properly managing their heating and cooling system.

Medicaid

Medical bills that have not been paid off are the nation’s largest form of debt that gets sent to collections. Individuals and households that have limited income can receive the healthcare they need at a cheap cost or for free from Medicaid. While it’s a program that the federal government offers, states are responsible for administering the program. However, they must follow the federal criteria.

The Bottom Line

Fortunately, you can likely find an assistance program that can support you for almost every part of your life. That is why exploring your options online through benefits.gov can be a real game-changer. This website will offer potential options to help you out in the areas where you need the most support. One search function to use is the Benefits Finder tool. Furthermore, users can find programs based on the category of assistance or the agency responsible for managing the program. Asking for help when you are financially struggling is okay! You need to take your time and explore your options to find the right program for you and your family.

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