One of the roles of government is to help people who fall on hard times get by until they can get back on their feet. The federal and state governments run a variety of welfare programs designed to provide the needy with the resources they need to survive. Different welfare programs provide different types of benefits, and specific benefits offered can vary from one state to another.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a welfare program that provides cash assistance to low-income households. TANF is designed to give money to parents with dependent children so that they can get by while they prepare for work. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recipients usually have to start working as soon as they are job-ready and no later than two years after coming on assistance. Families with an adult who has received federal assistance for five years or longer are generally are not eligible for TANF.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income is a program run by the Social Security Administration that provides cash to low-income people who are blind, disabled or aged. The purpose of the SSI program is to give the elderly and those with special medical needs some extra funds to pay for living necessities like food, clothes and shelter. The amount SSI pays out depends on income: the more cash someone earns, the lower his monthly benefit.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
For low-income people, going hungry can be a reality of everyday life. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as the food stamps program, provides a safety net against hunger. The program gives needy individuals and families vouchers or credits on cards that be used to purchase food.
Paying for medical care can be expensive, even for people who are able to afford health insurance. Medicaid is a welfare program that is jointly run by the federal and state governments that helps needy people pay for medical costs. According to the Social Security Administration, Medicaid eligibility is determined on a state-by-state basis, but in most states, anyone who qualifies for Supplemental Security Income also qualifies for Medicaid. Medicaid covers a wide variety of doctor's services and medical costs, like nursing home care and personal care services.
Child Care and Utility Assistance
State governments operate welfare programs that give assistance for childcare and utilities. Childcare assistance programs typically cover some or all of the cost of care services so that parents can train for work. Utility assistance programs help families pay for living essentials like heat, electricity, gas and water.
- Welfare Information: US Welfare System -- Help for US Citizens
- Welfare Information: Welfare Programs
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: Welfare
- United States Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Social Security Administration: Supplemental Security Income Home Page
- Medicare.gov: Medicaid
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Overview
- Social Security Administration: What Is Medicaid?
Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.