Government assistance programs were developed after the Great Depression created an economic crisis for U.S residents. These programs were created to support and help low income families and people living with disabilities to make ends meet as well as obtain health care.
These supports have greatly lifted millions of Americans from poverty as well as helped financially disabled people with make-work pay through supplementing low wages not to mention, enabling millions of Americans to receive healthcare services that they could not afford.
When you compare the US with other advanced countries, you will find that its poverty rate is quite higher than those other countries. In addition, many Americans reach adulthood before acquiring the tools needed to succeed in the workforce. However, there are numerous programs as well as policies more so in areas like education and job training that can be reformed and strengthened.
Impact of Federal Assistance & Welfares
According to the Census of the Supplemental poverty bureau measures, Federal assistance has lifted millions of US Citizens including children from poverty as they provide access to much more affordable health care. In regards to the census; Public programs lifted about 40-millions U.S citizens out of poverty in 2011 that including about 9 million children.
While social security has lifted quite a large number of people out of poverty as the Earned Income-Tax Credit lifted quite a large number of children as well. The two programs the EITC as well as Child Tax Credit lifted 9.4 million individuals that including about 5 million children from poverty in 2011.
In the same case, in 2010, Medicaid offered access to affordable health care to approximately 66 million people. Henceforth, through the support of Medicaid as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, today most children are insured compared to adults.
Despite the fact that Welfare programs are government-initiated programs for low-income individuals and families. The beneficiaries must prove that their incomes are below a target that is a certain percentage of the federal poverty level. To top it up, in 2019, the level of poverty for a family with four members was at $ 25,750.1
Basically, there are 6 major United State welfare programs which include Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for needy families, Supplemental Security Income, housing assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as food stamps
What to consider Federal Assistance & Welfares
The above-mentioned welfare programs are different from entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. However, the federal government offers to fund for welfare programs though, they are being administered by the states, whereby some states further expand these programs by offering additional funds.
What is the difference between Welfare and Entitlement?
All welfare programs have their own eligibility requirements though, both of them will include a maximum requirement of income. The use income requirements are normally set in accordance with the state level as well as determined as a percentage in relation to the federal poverty level which should be at/below 135 percent.
What makes welfare programs differ from entitlement programs are the maximum income levels. Though to be eligible for these programs, you will have to prove eligibility to get these welfare program benefits but everyone has the right to entitlement programs that is if they contributed to the program which is mostly done through payroll taxes.
The four major entitlement programs in the United States include Medicare, Unemployment insurance, Social Security as well as worker’s compensation.
There are some programs such as SNAP, THE CTC, AND EITC as well as Medicaid has supported millions of low-income families and helped in promoting work. About 30 years ago, both the Medicaid and SMAP mostly served families that were receiving public assistance and weren’t working.
At that time, EITC was a small program that served full-time and minimal-wage workers. It only paid the employee share of their payroll taxes whereby, millions of low-income families were sinking deeper into poverty.
Today, the operations of the CTC and EITC are quite different. Both of them offset payroll taxes as well as lift families with four members that work full-time and minimum wage from 61% of the federal-poverty index or line to 87%. Most of the children that receive CHIP or Medicaid comes from low-income working families
According to researchers, long-term payoffs to programs such as EITC, SNAP Pell Grants as well as childhood education have greatly improved peoples’ welfare.
For example, income support such as CTC and EITC has greatly enhanced the employment rate in parents and it has a long-term positive effect on children not to mention better school performance and as a result, it can translate to increased earnings that is, when the children become adults.
Additionally, through the introduction of food stamps by each state, children born from poor families now have better health outcomes while; housing assistance has eliminated various factors that can affect the academic achievements of children like school transitions, homelessness, and frequent moves.
While Pell Grants have reduced the possibility for low-wage students to drop out of their colleges and on the other hand, Head states program for children that participate in long-term studies has increased the school completion rates as well as improved other outcomes in the coming years.
How to qualify for Government Programs
To be a beneficiary of these government benefits, you will have to prove that your income or wages are below or at 135 percent of the federal poverty level. In some instances, the majority of these programs require you to be a citizen of the United States or rather an eligible non-citizen.
Generally, there are three major factors affecting this government assistance; almost all these programs have state requirements that are based on citizenship, family size as well as a person’s income level.
Things to note
There is a great difference between government welfare and entitlement programs. Entitlement programs such as unemployment insurance as well as Social Security determine your eligibility according to your prior contribution that is, from payroll taxes. While welfare programs focus only on your family income level to determine the level of need.
What are All the government assistance programs?
1. Government Assistance Food Programs
The Special-Food Program for Women, Infants as well as Children
This food stamp program is exclusive for nursing mothers as well as young children. It also provides food or even vouchers, education not to mention referrals to assist in feeding pregnant women and children until they reach the age of six years. According to government records, in 2017, about 7.7 million individuals received the WIC every month.
Child Nutrition Program
This is for school-aged children whereby, it helps in providing free or rather reduced costs of lunch to about 30 million children.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
It is also known as Food Stamps and it provides people who are eligible for this program with a benefits card that is used as a debit card to help in buying food at a certain grocery store as well as farmers’ markets.
According to government statistics, the SNAP program offers food vouchers to 23 million households or rather 47.6 million people whereby, they receive on average $ 133 a month.
Things to note
All these food assistance government programs; the WIC, SNAP as well as the Child Nutrition Program are being managed by the U.S Department of Agriculture.
2. Healthcare Assistance Programs
Before the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, most states were unable to provide health coverage to adults who did not have children despite their low-income status.
Therefore, through the Affordable Care Act, many people have now gained access to health coverage that is through Health Insurance Marketplace as well as Medicaid.
The ACA allows children of up to 26 years of age to stay on their parent’s plan and that provides access to health coverage for many young adults who are likely have not been able to afford or pay the coverage by themselves.
Health Insurance Marketplace
With the aim of making health coverage to be more affordable, the ACA introduced two different subsidies that are; for individuals as well as families. Apart from that, it also requires most health plans to cover preventive care such as birth control, cancer screening, vaccines, blood pressure tests, and much more at no extra cost.
Another privilege that ACA has brought to low-income people is that it protects people who have pre-existing conditions from being given health insurance.
Previously, before the introduction of the ACA, many health insurance companies would deny your insurance when you were suffering from pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.
This is a nation’s public health-insurance assistance program majorly for low-income people as well as families. Medicaid is managed by the Centers-for Medicaid as well as Medicare Services (CMS) which is a section of the U.S-Department of Health as well as Human Services.
The main purpose of the development of this program was to offer free or rather low-cost health benefits to children, adults, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors. According to the government statistics, the Medicaid program helps on average 1 in 5 citizens of America.
This health assistance program finance about a fifth of all personal-healthcare spending in the United States. Approximately, over 76 million low-income people were covered by Medicaid in 2016.
Whereby, Children account for 43 percent or rather more than four out of ten when it comes to all enrollees of Medicaid. The disabled and elderly people account for one in four enrollees.
Therefore, on average, half of all the births that happened in the U.S were paid for by Medicare. Through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid coverage was increased by 28% which in turn, raised the income level as well as allowed adults without children to qualify for the program.
Child’s Health Insurance Assistance Program
This health assistance program provides the best free government cell phones rather low-cost medical as well as dental care to kids that are uninsured for up to 19 years of age whose family income has been found to be above Medicaid’s limit while below the CHIP limit of their state. CHIP is being administered through CMS which is a Department of Health as well as Human Service.
To top up to Medicaid, about 6 million children received extra benefits from CHIP which covers medical supplies, hospital care, and tests. In addition to these, it also offers preventive care like regular check-ups, eye exams, and dental care.
3. Government Housing Assistance Program
Subsidized Housing, Public Housing, and Housing Vouchers Programs
Housing Assistance programs were designed to help people with low incomes and people living with disabilities to get a government-owned rental or rather affordable private housing.
The Housing Choice-Voucher program provides certificates to units that rents have been approved. The housing programs allow beneficiaries to pay not more than 30% of their income.
Since it was introduced, 1.2 million units have been developed in regards to public housing while the local agencies have rented them out to 2.2 million renters in accordance with the old Section-8 program. In addition, the Public Housing Agencies allow other families to purchase modest homes using the voucher.
The Low-Income Home-Energy Assistance Program is another housing assistance program that helps in providing assistance in energy as well as weatherization programs. So far, it has offered $ 3.4 billion towards block grants to the States.
4. Government Financial Assistance Program
Temporary-Assistance for Needy Families
TANF programs offer cash for a certain duration of time to low-income families who are working to be self-reliant. This program is being managed by the U.S-Department of Health as well as Human Services. The TANF program can also provide non-cash benefits that include job training, child care, and much more.
Supplemental Security-Income Program
It offers assistance in terms of cash to low-income seniors as well as adults not to mention kids with disabilities. The blind, aged, and disabled people have benefitted from this program as they are able to buy food, shelter as well as clothing. About 8.4 million people receive monthly assistance of $ 536 of which 7.3 million of them are blind or disabled people.
Other Federal programs meant for Low-income families
It is a free or rather reduced cost program that offers comprehensive early-childhood education, parent involvement services, and health nutrition to low-waged families. The beneficiaries of this program include low-income children starting from birth up to 5 years of age including their families.
Earned Income-Tax Credit
This program is a tax credit for families that has at least one child and they should be earning income that is not more than $ 15,567 per year in order to qualify for this program.
Federal Pell-Grant Program
This program is managed by the Department of Education to promote post-secondary education such as colleges and trade school for students that come from low-income households. These grants are just like scholarships whereby, you do not have to repay them.
The federal Pell grant was initiated to help undergraduate students. However, certain factors are considered for applicants of this program such as the attendance cost at the school as well as expected student and family contribution.
When it comes to the unemployment benefits programs, each state operates its own program. Therefore, depending on your residential state as well as requirement, you are likely to qualify for an unemployment-insurance program. To qualify for this program in order to get the cash amount assistance, the reason for losing your job should not be intentional or your fault.
Basically, both the Federal as well as State governments tend to work together to offer all kinds of unemployment assistance and job training programs.
To sum it up, the Department of Labor in the U.S offers self-employment assistance that is designed to help people who are currently unemployed to enable them to start running their own businesses. Instead of receiving unemployment insurance benefits, in these programs, you will get weekly allowances that you can use to start a business. However, the availability and eligibility of self-employment assistance vary by state.
For those who have lost their job whether voluntarily or involuntary, you may be eligible for COBRA. This program allows you to maintain the health insurance that you had while in your previous employment.
A change in employment status can make you to qualify for a Special-Enrollment Period which will allow you to shop as well as enroll in a Marketplace-Obamacare plan
This is another great government assistance program managed by the Federal-Communication Commission that assists low-income individuals as well as families to get free or discounted landline as well as cell phone services. They provide a discount of up to $ 9.25 on a monthly basis on telephone services, voice-broadband bundles services, Broadband Internet access services that are purchased from Lifeline providers.
Participants are eligible for a Lifeline discount on wireline or rather a wireless service but only one Lifeline service is allowed per household. To know more about what it takes to be eligible for Lifeline programs. You can check on the Lifeline official website for more information.
There are various government assistance programs that benefit financially challenged individuals or low-income families out there but they are free to join depending on your eligibility. Therefore, do not fall prey to fraudulent scams that you can be connected by someone to get a grant, loan, or any help.
Do not pay any coin to someone claiming to be connected directly or indirectly to an organization offering the above government programs. The much you can do is to collect more details about the person but do not give out your own personal details or cash and report them to the Federal Trade Commission that can be found online for fraud or targeted scams.