LIHEAP and other welfare programs may help residents pay their bills if they need additional government assistance beyond housing, unemployment and health benefits. Welfare programs are ideal for low-income families and individuals whose general living expenses exceed their household income. Some programs, like SSI, are geared towards disabled populations and can help them become more independent while living at home.
Whether you qualify for SSI disability, WIC or another government assistance program, the following sections can give you an idea as to how these benefits can enable you to meet your financial goals. Learn everything you need to know about a few of the most prevalent government programs that you might be eligible for regardless of where you live in the U.S.
Guide to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The LIHEAP program is federally funded and is meant to protect at-risk populations from suffering in harsh weather as well as low-income households from enduring high energy bills. It is designed to manage the costs of home energy bills and weatherization as well as related home repairs needed to maintain a home and a reasonable temperature throughout the summer and winter months.
The energy assistance program will award varying grant amounts to areas throughout the U.S. that demonstrate great energy needs, but all U.S. territories and states receive grants every year. Still, LIHEAP provides crisis assistance to households through March 15 of each calendar year.
The LIHEAP application addresses your household’s gross income, energy needs and ages. To be eligible for the LIHEAP program, your gross household income must not exceed 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) and be greater than 110 percent of FPG.
However, it is important to note that the home energy assistance program also takes your household size and energy needs into account when allocating grant resources to beneficiaries. The larger your household size and the more energy your household consumes, the likelier you will be accepted into the program.
Note: LIHEAP applications are due to the Division of Energy Assistance by September 1 of each year to be considered for benefits.
About Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income is a federal income supplement program dedicated to helping citizens with disabilities afford food, clothes and housing. However, SSI benefits are not the same as Social Security benefits.
While SSI consists of monthly benefits paid to qualifying individuals (i.e., those who are disabled blind and/or 65 years of age or older), Social Security is reserved for anyone who has worked long enough to have paid sufficient Social Security taxes. Social Security is based on a beneficiary’s work history or that of a family member whereas Supplemental Security Income is not.
Because the SSI application is so conclusive as to your financial and disability status, your eligibility for SSI grants you medical assistance through Medicaid as well as food assistance in most states. Additionally, for SSI beneficiaries 18 years of age and younger, financial need is not evaluated as a part of the eligibility process, only the severity of the disability is.
By creating an SSI login, you can apply for this income assistance for free and learn more about the program. Your monthly benefits through SSI are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), so all benefit questions or concerns you may have should be directed to them.
To apply for SSI, you can use the SSA’s online Benefit Entitlement Screening Tool to assess your eligibility for the program and apply using the electronic application. If you have applied for benefits in the past or prefer to use another application method, you can choose to apply by phone or in person at a local Social Security office.
To apply by phone, use the TTY SSI number for application assistance if you are deaf or hard of hearing, which is 1-800-325-0778. There is also a toll-free number can be used to apply if you do not need extra assistance, which is 1-800-772-1213. To locate your local SSI office, you can use the SSA’s free SSA Office Locator service and search for an office by ZIP code.
Learn About WIC
WIC is another federally sponsored program that supplies grants to U.S. states in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of hunger and nutritional issues in certain women and young children. Beneficiaries of the program can include pregnant women, breastfeeding women, postpartum women, infants and children five years of age and younger.
At their local WIC office, qualifying women and children can receive nutrition education and counseling, health screenings, welfare services and nutritious foods meant to supplement a healthy diet. Additionally, the WIC program provides WIC benefits via hospitals, health departments, community centers, mobile clinics, public housing communities, schools, migrant health centers and camps as well as facilities for Indian health service.
WIC eligibility is determined by residential, income and nutritional factors. Additionally, you may be eligible for the program if you are one of the following:
- A woman who is pregnant, postpartum (up to six months after the birth or end or pregnancy) or breastfeeding
- Caring for an infant (i.e., a baby younger than one year of age)
- Caring for a child five years old or younger
You must live in a state or county in which WIC is administered and have a gross household income between 100 and 185 percent of FPG. Finally, a health professional must indicate that you or your dependent is at risk of nutritional deficiency.
To apply for WIC, you need to schedule an interview with your local agency that manages the program for your area. A list of all the WIC offices can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s website. You may visit your local agency to set up an appointment or call ahead to determine which times are best. Once your appointment is scheduled, you will be told what documents you will need to bring with you to your appointment.
Note: The WIC app can help beneficiaries monitor their benefits and view and schedule health appointments at WIC-approved locations. The app can be used on-the-go, enabling beneficiaries to take advantage of their benefit information no matter where they are.