How to Apply for Emergency Public Assistance

by Richard Morgan ; Updated July 27, 2017
Standing in line is necessary when applying for public assistance.

Items you will need

  • Photo ID
  • Utility bill (if needed)
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of expenses
  • Medical bills (if needed)

Tough economic times sometimes call for outside financial assistance. There are a variety of places that an individual can turn to for help, both local and federal. The public assistance might come in the form of needing emergency money or food, or help paying the utility bills. In the case of individuals who have been laid off, there is unemployment available to help offset living costs, and there are other services available to meet a variety of needs.

Step 1

Apply for unemployment if you've lost your job. You can apply at either your local unemployment office or you can apply online. You will be required to fill out some paperwork and you will be given a confirmation tracking number so that you can check on the status of your unemployment payment. In order to continue to collect your unemployment benefits, you will have to reapply every two weeks and you will be required to verify that you have been seeking employment while you have been collecting unemployment. The amount of money you can receive depends on your income prior to being laid off and the length of time that you were employed.

Step 2

Go to your local Public Assistance Office to find out for which programs you are eligible. The programs for which you might be eligible will vary from state to state, or even from city to city. Contact your Public Assistance Office to find out what the requirements are, as well as which documents you will need to furnish when you fill out your application for public assistance. In most cases, you'll be asked to bring a photo ID, proof of your income and your expenses, as well as any one-time expenses, such as a medical bill.

Step 3

Apply for Social Security benefits. In some cases, you do not have to be of retirement age to get public assistance from the Social Security Office. Certain medical conditions, such as high-functioning autism or being visually or hearing impaired, will entitle you to either full disability or supplemental income. You can apply at either your local Social Security office or you can apply online. If you apply online, you will be notified of an interview time and date, and you will be asked to bring any medical documentation to support your request for assistance.

Step 4

Apply for food stamp programs. Food stamp programs are available in every state and are based on income rather than employment or even if you are collecting welfare. Your local Public Assistance Office will be able to direct you to the local bureau which is in charge of handling supplemental nutrition assistance programs.

Photo Credits

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