Monday, March 31, 2014

Brighten your golden years with a little help




It used to be that people could retire between sixty and sixty-five and live comfortably until the end on their retirement benefits.  It truly was the golden age when you could relax and enjoy life instead of being stuck on the wheels of the rat race.  Today though, with social security getting smaller and people losing the money they were saving in IRAs, many senior citizens have to work into their 70s and even 80s. Those who do depend on their meager social security benefits to survive find themselves struggling to pay their bills and to put food on thetable.  As a result, multi-generational homes are becoming more of the norm as families need to band together for financial support.

Whether you live alone or with family, there is government financial assistance for senior citizens available.  Here are some government resources that can help.

Look into Supplemental Security Insurance

This federal government service gives money to seniors struggling in poverty whether they have worked in the past or not.  If you don’t have enough money to meet your basic needs then this program can help.



Stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer

Energy bills have never been as high as they are today.  On the news you always here of senior citizens found dead in their home, either in the freezing temperatures of the winter or the oppressive heat of the summer.  How many of them happened because they couldn’t afford to turn on the gas or electric? The federal government runs the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps pay utility bills as well as home repairs that are needed to keep your building energy efficient. Each state has an office that you can call for help.

Stay healthy with better nutrition

You shouldn’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from just because you are on a limited budget.  The government also funds a food program through the Department of Agriculture.  Run by state governments, this service makes sure senior citizens are eating proper meals.  Food stamps are another option that seniors can take advantage of as well.



State programs also exist

Each state has its own set of senior citizen assistance programs that range from food and housing programs to tax and debt assistance. Section eight housing is another option if you can’t afford your rent on your own. Make an appointment with your local state representative to see if there are more financial assistance out there that you were not aware of.

Ask a family member to help you research more government financial assistance. Have them visit the usa.gov website where they have a list of resources for senior citizens that include help with going back to school and finding a volunteer program. There are also resources for grandparents who find themselves raising their grandchildren.  The National Council of Aging is another place to try. Help can come in many different forms.  All you need to do is ask.





5 Welfare Benefits For Single Mothers



Being a single mum isn’t easy. In fact, the U.S. census showed that six of 10 children in single mother families were at or below the poverty line, necessitating the need for financial help.  With that being said, there are programs on offer that can provide assistance. Below are five such programs.

Medicaid

Access to medical care is vitally important and this federal program covers certain low income individuals’ health care. It has to be noted that just because you might qualify for other welfare benefits doesn’t automatically mean you will qualify for Medicaid. It also more likely for children in low income families to qualify. 

Work Benefits

Since 1996, when welfare reform led to a greater emphasis on getting people into work and also building in time limits on how long mothers can stay on welfare, it has become part of the system to be able to receive benefits even if you are in work. If the wages being taken home fall below a certain amount, there is the possibility of receiving food stamps and possibly Medicaid. There are also subsidies to help cover child care, which can be extremely expensive.
Also falling into this category are job training programs to get people into work, and educational grants to enable mothers to become more qualified and in a better position to find employment. 



Food Stamps and WIC

Food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide vouchers that you can exchange for food.  

Additionally, those who are pregnant or with children under the age of five may also receive help from the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC.) 

The difference between the two programs is that food stamps can be used to buy any type of food, but WIC vouchers can only be exchanged for specific, highly nutritious food. This includes dairy, eggs, and cereal.

Housing

The Section 8 program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Urban Development, provides help in the shape of helping to pay for housing. Eligibility for the program requires a household income below 50 percent of the median income for the area. 

Naturally, what constitutes a median income will vary depending on where you are in the country. Consequently, eligibility levels and the amount of the benefit you could be entitled too, also vary. 

Now the recipient of this benefit is required only to spend 30 percent of their income on housing. The assistance is a voucher that covers the difference between that 30 percent of income and the cost of rental housing. 

Unfortunately, not all properties will accept payment that comes via housing benefit vouchers and in some places, there can be extremely long waiting lists that can go on for years.

TANF

TANF , which stands for Temporary Aid for Needy Families, is a program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC, in 1996, following the welfare reform guidelines.
What the TANF program offers is a cash grant each calendar month to families for a period of up to two years. To be able to take advantage of this grant, the recipients must follow the guidelines set out in terms of gaining and staying in work.  

What this translates to is that single parents with children under the age of six must spend 20 hours a week on work-related activities, (this includes job training) whilst those with children over the age of six must spend 30 hours a week doing these same things.