In the United States, there are a variety of government programs that are specially designed to protect citizens from financial insecurities. Government assistance is available for certain groups of people, including citizens who are low-income, retired, elderly, disabled or unemployed. In the U.S., some of the major types of government assistance programs include:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
- Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF).
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Section 8 Housing Assistance.
Continue reading to learn more about these welfare programs, including how they work and their eligibility criteria.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps individuals and families to afford their basic food costs. In 2022, SNAP helped an average of 42 million participants pay for their groceries.
Here’s how it works: When a household qualifies for the program, they receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Each month, a certain amount of food stamps benefits are loaded onto the card. Participants can use the card at a store just like a credit or debit card, but they can only use these benefits to buy food. The amount of benefits each household can get each month depends on the household’s income and the number of members.
SNAP food stamps offices are situated throughout the country. Applicants can apply in person at a SNAP office, but they may also apply online or by mail in most states.
One of the main criteria to qualify for SNAP is income. Your monthly income cannot be higher than a certain amount. The income limit depends on how many members are in the household. For example, as of 2023, a family of four must have a net monthly income that is below $2,313. The income limit goes up if there are more residents living in the household, and goes down if there are fewer people living in the household.
There are some limits to how long some people can continue to receive food stamps. Able-bodied adults without children can get benefits from this program for only three months within a three-year period if they are not working or taking part in a training program.