When you’re going through a rough patch and in need of some financial assistance, government assistance programs can be extremely helpful. Single moms who experience some difficulty with being able to make ends meet can find temporary relief in government programs like food stamps, TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) and Medicaid.
All of these programs offer relief for necessities you may have that are free of charge. Government assistance is only for people who truly need it and can’t comfortably afford things like food, housing and medical care for themselves or their children.
The main point of these programs is to offer temporary relief that you can use honestly to help you get back on your feet so you won’t need benefits anymore.
You can learn more about some helpful government assistance programs here and in order to receive benefits, all you need to do is qualify. Since more and more people are receiving government assistance, you’d think it would be easier to qualify but it’s not. It’s actually become harder to qualify for benefits and the requirements have gotten stricter.
Some people are being told that they ‘earn too much’ even though they are still struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table.
If you end up in the gray area of people who ‘earn too much’ but still have a hard time being able to provide for yourself and your kids, there are a few alternative options for you.
Re-apply, Appeal or Talk to Someone About your Case
If you receive a letter stating you don’t qualify for government assistance when you feel that you do, you can always appeal the decision and reapply. See if you can talk with a caseworker to get a more detailed explanation of why your application wasn’t approved.
Sometimes people fill out the application incorrectly or misrepresent their situation. If all else fails, you can ask to speak to a caseworker or someone who can tell you about other options and resources in your community for aid.
Find a local food bank or food pantry to visit in your area if needed. There are thousands of food pantries all over from small food banks conducted by church members, to large well know food banks associated with the Salvation Army.
Most food pantries will offer you food and other household supplies based on your household size. Lots of grocery stores end up donating food and other items to pantries so there’s often a lot to give away. Some pantries might even partner with a clothes closet and give away gently used clothing as well nearby. To find a food bank near you, you can go to FeedingAmerica.org.
Community organizations and charities run by local churches are your best bet to help you get back on your feet when you don’t qualify for government assistance. Organizations are not going to screen you thoroughly and assess your income like government programs will. They are simply interested in offering help when help is needed.
Catholic Charities is a well-known agency that has over 164 member agencies in their network that serve in 2,631 communities across the country. They help provide food, necessities, disaster relief, housing options and resources to people on a national and local level.
To find other organizations that may be able to help you, do a search online and call local churches and agencies to set up an appointment for more information about their services. If they can’t help you with something, they can point you to someone who can.
Explore Your Medical Options
When money is tight, it’s hard to consider the costs of medical care even though it can become extremely costly. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, your child still has a chance of qualifying. For Medicaid for children, there are certain levels depending on your income so you may have to pay a small premium of $20 or $40 per month which still isn’t bad.
If you and your child(ren) don’t qualify for medical assistance and the marketplace rates are two high for you, you still have some other options. You can see if your employer offers better a better rate for medical coverage or see if you qualify for a tax credit with the marketplace.
If both of those options fail, you can always consider signing up with a health sharing ministry. Health sharing ministries are not like regular medical insurance because you pay a monthly membership fee (or premium) and most of your bills and medical expenses get shared among the other members. You are usually responsible for paying an annual unshared amount which can be referred to as a deductible before all your medical expenses are shared.
At the beginning of the year, I choose to sign up with Liberty HealthShare and I pay $131 per month for coverage of up to $125,000 per medical incident. There’s also a $1,000,000 option where you pay about $10 more per month that I may try out if I stay with them next year. I already paid my annual unshared amount of $500, so any additional medical expenses I have this year will be shared and paid for.
The interesting thing about Liberty HealthShare is that you can visit any doctor or hospital you choose. Since health sharing ministries are not considered insurance, there is no in-network or out-of-network confusion to deal with.
Plus, choosing a health sharing ministry is equivalent to opting out of the ACA or Obamacare and members are not penalized during tax time which is important. To learn more about health sharing ministries, you can check out my review of my experience with Liberty HealthShare here.
Pull on Resources from Your Community and Search for Better Employment Opportunities
Finding out what resources are offered in your community is key. Just because government assistance options are widely known, doesn’t mean they are the only solution out there.
As utilize some of the options mentioned above along with exploring some community resources, also focus on boosting your income and earning more.
Government programs tend to ‘punish’ people for earning more and cut off their benefits quickly, but if you were told you earn too much take that as a good sign. Keep increasing your income and looking for work opportunities that are going to pay you a sustainable wage. You can go back to school and fund your education with financial aid or scholarships or start side hustling and working from home to boost your income.
Continue to budget and limit your expenses as you seek out solutions and explore some of these options to help allow you to get back on your feet.