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7 FREE Cash Benefits Program: Eligibility Criteria, How to Apply (2022)

7 FREE Cash Benefits Program

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There are a lot of people families out there who can hardly meet their days needs. Especially after the pandemic hit, inflation and unemployment have significantly impacted the lives of many people. Hence to help such people out the government offers financial assistance cash benefits programs. 

Low income families can get free cash benefits program such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Social Security Income, SSDI, General Assistance Benefits, Federal Pell Grants for low income students, Adult Program in the Territories, and more. Low income families, students, disabled people, elderly, and unemployed people can apply for such programs. 

If you want to get more information about all of these cash benefits programs, their eligibility criteria, how to apply for these financial assistance programs, then keep reading further.

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7 FREE Cash Benefits Program and their Eligibility Criteria

Mentioned below are the 7 FREE cash benefits programs and a brief about these programs. You can go to the description of these programs to check your eligibility and get insights on what the overall eligibility program is all about.

Just note that these programs are updated constantly and the rules might change with time and place. so make sure to check out the official websites when you are applying for these programs.

1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a well-known benefits program that offers grants to Low-income families with children. The program provides monthly Cash Grants to Low-Income Families.

The amount of money received ranges from $429 to $498 on average. And the benefits are deposited directly into your bank account or on your EBT Card.

The program is known by different names in different regions of the country such as – Family Independence in South Carolina, Reach Up in Vermont, TAFI in Idaho, etc. There is just one drawback of the TANF which is that there is a limit on how many months an adult can receive TANF benefits. 

You can also get automatically eligible for other programs of the government such as Get Free Government Tablet For low Income Families, or SNAP EBT benefits. 

Eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The applicant must be a resident of the state in which they apply, and a U.S. citizen, legal alien, or qualified alien. They must be underemployed or unemployed having low or very low income. 

They must follow any one of the below criteria – 

  • Have a child of 18 years or younger
  • Be 18 years or younger and head of household
  • Be Pregnant

How to Apply for TANF?

You can apply for TANF either online or by visiting the local community service office. You can use the DHS Office Locator to find the Family community resources center near you. You can get more information by contacting the DHS helpline at 1-800-843-6154 (voice) or 1-866-324-5553.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

2. General Assistance Benefits

General assistance benefits or General Welfare or General relief is one of the most well-known programs that offer support to indigent adults who cannot support themselves and also do not have aid from other public funds or assistance programs. The program offers financial assistance with one-time needs like rent, funeral costs, medical prescriptions, food, etc.

Since there is no involvement of the state in this program, the eligibility criteria, payment benefits, and other features of the program might differ among the 58 counties of California. You can get additional information about the general assistance program through your local County social services agency.

The majority of the recipients of the general assistance program are also eligible for the CalFresh program. This program is meant to increase the level of Nutrition among low-income families. You can also get information about the CalFresh program through your local County social services agency.

Eligibility for General Assistance Benefits Program –

The applicant should meet any of the below criteria to be e able to qualify for the general assistance benefits program-

  • Above 55 years and can’t get a job
  • Under 18 and not living with family
  • Over 18 and joined high school with English not being the first language
  • Taking care of someone with a disability or illness
  • Ill or have a permanent or temporary disability
  • In a mental, physical, or drug rehabilitation facility or have a drug or alcohol dependency
    applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or waiting on an SSDI or SSI appeal

You can get more details about the criteria of eligibility either from the local social services agency or by visiting the official General assistance website.

3. Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income is a federally assisted Cash benefits program for low-income people of age 65 or above, disabled, or blind. This program offers monthly payments to those who are eligible, wherein the amounts can be around $794 for a single person or up to $1,191 for a couple

The amount received as a grant may be reduced depending on your countable income. The monthly amount will vary according to the living arrangement as well. So, not everyone gets the same amount. Some may receive more amount if there is state adds more money to the federal SSI fund. 

Eligibility for supplemental security income – 

  • The applicant must have a limited income.
  • The applicant must be of age 65 or blind or disabled.
  • The applicant must have limited resources. 
  • The applicant must be a US citizen or national of the US or a noncitizen
  • The applicant must live in one of the 50 states, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the District of Columbia. 

How to apply for Supplemental Security Income?

You can either apply to the program via the Social Security Website by filling an application for RetirementSpouse’sMedicare, or Disability Benefits online.

If you cannot submit the form online, you can also give a call at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can check out more information about how to apply for Supplemental Security Income on the official website.

4. Social Security Disability Insurance

The social security disability insurance program is a federally assisted benefits program that provides disability benefits to eligible needy people. This program is administered by the US Social Security Administration.

Note that the SSDI  program will benefit you and your family members only if you are insured by Social Security. 

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance

  • Enough work history insured by Social Security then you may be eligible for SSDI if you become disabled.
  • A medical condition that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

How to Apply for SSDI on Social Security Website?

  • You can apply for the disability application process for Social Security Disability Insurance, for this, first of all, collect the information about the adult disability checklist which will help you in filling out the application form. You can check it on the website at – https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/#anchor1
  • Once you have filled out the application form, submit it along with the required documents.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the authorities to check your eligibility. They will also evaluate your current work activities if any. The SSA will process your application and then forward the case to the disability determination services office of your state.
  • Your disability determination decision will be made by the state agency. You might be contacted if the authorities have any questions for you.
  • The decision will be sent to you via a letter in the mail.
  • If you wish the status of your application, you can go to the social security account or call at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

One most important thing to note here is that, although we aren’t much sure about SSI, around 2/3rd of Disability applications are denied the first time. The related authorities are quite infamous for denying claims.

However, unbothered by it all, make sure to file an appeal. You can get all the necessary information about making an appeal on the official website of the SSA. 

Apply Online for Disability Benefits
Apply Online for Disability Benefits

5. Federal Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are need-based financial assistance grants for low-income students offered by the Federal government, which unlike a loan do not have to be repaid. This grant is awarded by the US Department of Education to help low-income students in paying the costs of college including expenses such as tuition, room, fees, books, and similar other expenses.

This Grant is meant for low-income undergraduate students and at times post-baccalaureate students. You can get $6,495 at maximum and $650 at minimum, as per the year 2021-22. Just one drawback of the Pell Grant is that students can receive these grants for 6 years or 12 semesters. Earlier the number of equivalent semesters was 18 to receive the grant. 

How to Apply for Federal Pell Grants?

  • One can apply for the Federal Pell grant through the free application for Federal student aid, also known as FAFSA.
  • Once you have filled out the form, the authorities will determine your eligibility for the grant, and then accordingly, the financial aid officers will use the EFC number to set the amount of the award. 

The amount awarded through Pell Grant will be distributed to the eligible students by directly paying to the institution of the student in disbursements. In case there are additional leftover grants for a student, they will be awarded extra credit for it. 

6. Guaranteed Income Programs

Guaranteed income programs are one of the most well-known financial assistance programs that offer monthly cash benefits. Some of which provide benefits of over a few hundred dollars while others offer over a thousand dollars. The only condition for this program apart from the eligibility is that eligible participants will get monthly cash benefits for generally one to three years only.

However, this is a  great financial assistance program with no-strings-attached cash to low income families and needy individuals. The guaranteed income programs are run by the state governments and others might be known by different names in different states of the US. 

A lot of people usually confuse guaranteed income programs for Universal basic income. But both of these programs are different. Since these programs are run on a local basis, the eligibility criteria and methods to apply for these programs might be different for different locations. 

For your convenience, we have included a table below which specifies all the guaranteed income programs in the United States. You can check the program available in your state and see if the program is running for applications or not.

State Guaranteed Income ProgramProgram Status
Alabama

  • GIP known as 'Embrace Mothers'.

  • Offers $375 per month to 110 Birmingham residents for a year

  • Eligibility - Female-identifying head of household caring for at least 1 child under 18 years.


Alaska 

  • Name - Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend

  • Eligibility - Must be a resident of Alaska for at least a year before applying, Must intend to live in Alaska indefinitely


Arizona

  • Name - Financial Assistance for Phoenix Families Program

  • Offers $1,000 per month to over 1,000 families for a year.


California

  • The Statewide Program - Offers $1,000 per month for eligible people (pregnant women or people aging out of foster care)

  • Long Beach - Selected 500 residents in the 90813 zip code receive $500 per month for a year

  • Compton Pledge - Provides 800 residents $1,800 each quarter.

  • BIG LEAP guaranteed income program (Los Angeles) - Starting in 2022, this program offers $1,000 per month for a year

  • Direct Investment Program in Sacramento (DIPS) - Offers $300 per month for a year to 100 participants.

  • Mountain View - Known as Elevate MV, offers $500/month to low-income families with children less than 18 years.

  • San Diego for Every Child - Offers $500 per month to 150 families of color with children less than 12 years of age.

  • Oakland Resilient Families program - The second phase of the program has started.

  • County of Santa Clara‘s Basic Income Pilot - Offers $1,000 per month to up to 2,500 young people aging out of foster care.


Colorado

  • Denver Basic Income Project 

  • Eligibility - At least 18 years and homeless.


Florida

  • Just Income GNV program

  • Offers $1,000 the first month and $600 each month for the rest of the year

  • Eligibility - Alachua County residents who have been released from a Florida state prison or federal prison or Florida County jail or have begun felony probation in the county.


Georgia

  • Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund runs the program -  In Her Hands

  • Provides $850 per month for 2 years to more than 600 Black women


Illinois

  • Chicago’s Guaranteed Income Program

  • Eligibility - Chicago residents who are enrolled in City Colleges or have a dependent who is enrolled in public school or college, Income below 300% of Federal Poverty guidelines


Indiana

  • Guaranteed Income Validation Effort (GIVE) program

  • Offers $500 dollars per month for up to 18 months to 100 residents

  • Eligibility - At least 18 years of Gary resident earning $35,000 per year or less.


Louisiana

  • New Orleans - Offers $350 per month to people between 16 to 24 years of age.

  • Shreveport - Offers $600 per month for a year to 100 single parents or legal guardians of school-going children.

Maryland

  • Pilot Program to offer $800 per month to 300 families for 2 years.

Massachusetts
  • Cambridge Recurring Income for Success and Empowerment program - offers $500 per month to 120 residents for 18 months.

  • Lynn - Family Health Project offers $400 each month for 36 months to new mothers

  • Chelsea - Direct Assistance Stipend Program offers $200-$400 per month to 2000 eligible households.
  • Minnesota
  • Minneapolis - Offers $1,000 per month to eligible Black mothers in Jackson.

  • Saint Paul - The People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot offers $500 per month for 18 months.
  • Missouri
  • GIP in St. Louis offers $500 per month helping 9,300 families.

  • Eligibility - Resident of the city who lived for at least a year and earning less than 80% of the area median income.
  • Mississippi
  • Magnolia Mother’s Trust offers $1,000/month to eligible Black mothers in Jackson.
  • New Jersey
  • Paterson Guaranteed Income Pilot - Offers $400 per month for 12 months to 110 residents.

  • Newark Movement for Economic Equality - provides $250 every two weeks and $3,000 every six months.
  • New York
  • Ithaca Guaranteed Income pilot program - Offers $450 per month to 100 caregivers for a year.

  • HudsonUP program - Provides $500 per month to 25 participants for five years.

  • Mount Vernon - Offers $500 per month to 100 families for 18 months.

  • Ulster County Project Resilience - provides $500 per month to 100 applicants.
  • New Mexico
  • The City of Sante Fe Learn, Earn, Achieve Program offers $400/month for a year to 100 community college students.
  • North Carolina
  • Durham - Excel Guaranteed Income Pilot offers $500 per month for a year.

  • Eligibility - You must be at least 18 years and resident of Durham and earning not more than 60% of the Area Median Income.

  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Casino Dividend - provides $4,000 and $6,000 each year.
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh - Assured Cash Experiment PGH program offers $500 per month to 200 participants of which 100 are black women living in the city and earning 50% or less of Area Median Income. Rest 100 will be selected randomly from 5 disadvantaged zip codes.
  • Rhode Island
  • Providence- PVDGI Pilot program offers $500 each month for a year to 110 residents.
  • Washington
  • Growing Resilience in Tacoma (or GRIT) provides $500 to 110 Tacoma families.

  • Virginia
  • Alexandria’s Recurring Income for Success and Equity (ARISE) offers $500/month to 150 Alexandria households for 2 years.

  • Richmond Resilience Initiative is yet another Guaranteed Income Program.
  • South Carolina
  • Columbia Life Improvement Monetary Boost/ CLIMB program offers $500 per month for a year to eligible fathers working with the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.
  • Washington DC
  • Strong Families, Strong Future DC pilot program will provide $900 per month for a year to pregnant women and new parents in wards 5,7, and 8.

  • Wisconsin
  • Madison - To launch The Madison Forward Fund, yet to be finalized officially.

  • 7. Adult Program in the Territories

    The adult programs in the US territories offer monthly cash payments to the Eligible and low-income families, disabled people, and the blind in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Guam. Monthly payments are provided so as to help with food, clothing, and shelter.

    This program is basically an Extension of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. So, those who are Excluded from the SSI can apply for this program if they meet the eligibility criteria.

    Eligibility for Adult Program in the Territories 

    In order to be eligible, applicants must be low-income residents of Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam of age above 64 years or blind or above 17 years for disabled people. 

    How do contact the officials?

    If you wish to contact the associated authorities, you can reach them via the local public assistance office or you can contact the Federal Regional Office at Guam on 415-437-8400 and the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on 212-264-2890.

    Closing Words

    That was it all about FREE Cash Benefits Program and its Eligibility Criteria. There are a lot of low-income families out there you can hardly make enough money to meet their day-to-day basic needs. the government realizes the hardships these people have to go through and does to help them out in whatever way possible, the government has various cash benefits programs. 

    These programs generally have strict eligibility criteria so that only the genuinely needy people will get the benefits and resources through these programs. These 7 were the known financial assistance programs to us. There would also be various other cash benefits or financial assistance programs depending on the location and eligibility criteria. 

    You can reach out to the local community service agency to seek more information about such programs. Till then make sure to check out all the above-mentioned options for free cash benefits for low-income families. 

    In case you have any questions or know of any other such local cash assistance programs, then do let us know in the comments below. Would be helpful for many!

    2 thoughts on “7 FREE Cash Benefits Program: Eligibility Criteria, How to Apply (2022)

      1. Hey Angela,
        The first step is to contact your utility company and explain your situation. They may be able to offer free assistance or connect you with resources that can help. You can also try searching on our website for government or nonprofit programs that offer assistance with utility bills.

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