Government benefits

Get help when you need it. Apply for government assistance.
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Get government benefits FAQs

If you are unemployed or underemployed, you may qualify for government benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, free school lunches, housing assistance, school grants or health care for your children. They are not difficult to apply for and may temporarily help you and your family.

Can I get government assistance if I'm separated?

If you are separated from your spouse you may experience a significant change in household income; however, without an actual legal separation or divorce in place, the other spouse's income may still be considered. If you have children, your local government will first pursue the other parent for child support, if applicable. If you are given support, the amount may be reimbursed from the other parent's support payments. If both parents are low-income, you may qualify for assistance based on low household income.

Can I qualify for government benefits if I make more than the federal poverty level?

Yes, you might. Often government benefits are guided by the federal poverty threshold, but they are most often considered "guidelines" and not cut-off lines. If you earn over the threshold, you may still qualify for receiving partial or full benefits. Medicaid, Affordable Care Act healthcare, free school lunches, food stamps and other benefits may be available if you make over the federal poverty guideline. If you think you may qualify, there is no penalty for applying.

How do I apply for food stamps?

In most areas, food assistance is no longer called "food stamps" and you will not receive "stamps." Food assistance is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and benefits are loaded onto EBT cards. You can usually apply online or at a local SNAP benefits office. You will apply through your state and not the federal government. The amount you may receive varies based on the number of household members and income. Benefit periods range from one to six months. You may be able to receive extended benefits. Children and seniors may be able to receive benefits longer.

Are there work requirements for receiving government benefits?

In some cases, there may be work requirements tied to receiving government benefits such as SNAP. If you are an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) you may only receive a few months of SNAP unless you work at least 80 hours per month or you are in a qualifying educational or workfare program. In most situations, there are exceptions made for those who cannot work.

What is an eligible noncitizen?

An eligible noncitizen may be able to receive government benefits from certain programs. An eligible noncitizen is a person who is a,

  • Permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Is a permanent state resident
  • Holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security
  • Citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM
  • U.S national
  • Holder of a T-visa
  • Child of a parent with a T-1 nonimmigrant status
  • Battered immigrant-qualified alien
  • Child of a person protected under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)