The need in West Virginia for help is great, and many families rely on welfare programs to eat and get medical care. In 2009, 17.6 percent of West Virginians lived below the federal poverty level, according to the U.S. Census. These people are eligible for one or more programs targeted to provide food, housing, heat and more to low-income families. The goal of these programs is to assist needy families and not become a source of income for them.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is better known as food stamps, which allow low-income households to purchase food for human consumption and seeds and plants that grow into food. It can’t be used for household products, toiletries, alcohol or tobacco. Household size, income and assets determine how large a monthly food stamp allowance a family can get. Most adults must also meet a work requirement in order to continue receiving benefits. Adults without dependent children and who are able to work can only receive benefits three months out of every three years unless they work.
Medicaid provides medical care to low-income individuals and families. What the program covers depends on West Virginia and federal government guidelines as well as type of services needed. Under the large umbrella of Medicaid, a number of specific groups can be covered: children, pregnant women, families, women with breast or cervical cancer, disabled individuals, senior citizens and those needing long-term care. Depending on the group, the income threshold may vary, and each group is eligible for its own set of health-care services.
Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)
Low-Income Energy Assistance opens for applications in the winter to provide low-income households with assistance to pay for their home heating. Cash payments are made directly to the utility company on behalf of the household. Assistance can sometimes be given immediately if it is an emergency, but a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources worker will need to visit the household. Eligibility depends on income, type of heating payment and total heating costs. There is also a program that allows eligible households to receive their utilities at 20 percent off the regular cost.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT)
Medicaid recipients who have children with special needs can get reimbursement of their transportation costs. The cost must be incurred transporting their children to and from needed medical services. It can also cover meals, lodging and turnpike tolls. Payments go to the household or the transportation provider.
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources: Medicaid
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources: Utility Assistance
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources: Transportation Assistance
- U.S. Census: West Virginia Fact Sheet
James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.