Getting Help from Governmental Programs

Jamie O'Hara
Published May 2, 2024


Everyone needs help sometimes. Below you'll find tips on getting help to cover groceries, getting financial support to pay your heating and cooling bills, and getting assistance with your medical needs.
 

TANF: Don't Go Hungry


If your income has been cut or if other expenses are making it hard to buy food, programs such as TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, can help you keep your refrigerator and cupboards stocked.

TANF can also help with more than food. Once you qualify for TANF, you can get help with

  • housing

  • child care

  • job training


  •  

As soon as you think you may need support from TANF, start the application process. First of all, the income requirements have been adjusted. If you applied and were turned down in the past, you may now be eligible.

Secondly, you may find out about other helpful options as you work through your TANF application process. For example, you may be directed to a "no qualifications" food bank. You may be able to get free or reduced lunches for your children. Your children may be able to get breakfast or supplemental food for the weekend while your application is reviewed.

Be aware that, while TANF has long had a work requirement for recipients, those requirements were relaxed in 2020 due to the pressures of COVID. If you have been on the program in the past and aren't sure if you can get additional benefits, ask. You may have some flexibility that you weren't aware of.

Finally, the requirements you need to fulfill to qualify for TANF in your state may be different than those at the federal level. Such benefits can make it much easier for you to get a better job or better child care. Apply and ask.
 

What Can You Do with LIHEAP Benefits?


Even if you can't afford your heating or cooling bills, you do not need to suffer. The LIHEAP, or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be applied to bills for heating or for cooling.

Even better, these funds can be used to at least partially pay for

  • an updated, more efficient furnace

  • weather-stripping and other home-sealing tools

  • emergency funding and protection from extreme heat and cold in the event of a disaster


  •  

It is important to note that, should you apply for a grant to help you pay for a new HVAC unit or an update home furnace, the funds will not come to you. Once you have been selected and the installer found and scheduled, those funds will go to the company supplying the system.

Make sure that you carefully review any information you get in a call or an email from someone claiming to be with LIHEAP. There is no charge for getting assistance from LIHEAP. You cannot apply for a grant to come directly to you. If any such offers come your way, it is a scam. End the contact and report their information to your state attorney general so information can be shared widely regarding such scams.
 

Medicaid


As of May 2023, more than 86 million people have been helped by Medicaid. Be aware that Medicaid is required by the federal government but administered by the states. It's funded both by the federal government and the state you live in.

If you know what you need from Medicaid and have some flexibility, a move may make it easier to get the help you need. Of course, every situation is different. As you review what is offered by your state, it may be worth considering.

It's critically important that, if you've been turned down for Medicaid in the past, you recheck the guidelines. Many things have changed since COVID and you may now be able to get some assistance.
 

The Bottom Line


Whether you need temporary assistance or more long-term help, you must ask. Yes, some programs can take time to complete the application. You may have been turned down before. However, there are many helpful programs out there that can help you get groceries in the cupboard. Help with your heating and cooling are also available, as is a visit to the doctor.

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