According to the Urban Institute, 25 percent of American households do not claim benefits for which they are eligible. In tough economic times, many of us can greatly benefit from public benefits.
Whether you are looking to pay your medical bills, increase take-home pay, afford reliable transportation, or earn education credentials, public benefits can help you cover the basic needs for you and your family.
Public Benefit Programs
- Are you a student? Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you are eligible for various forms of financial assistance for postsecondary education. If you or your parents pay taxes, you can also look into the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
- Do you have children? The state-administered Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) helps families pay for medical expenses for children under age 18. You can also apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which provides a variety of welfare and cash subsidy programs to promote family responsibility and self-sufficiency.
- Are you a homeowner? Check out the Making Homes Affordable Program (MHAP) to see if you can minimize your monthly housing payments through a loan modification or a home affordable refinance. If you are a first-time homeowner, file your taxes and claim the Homebuyer Credit to receive up to $8,000.
- Are you a senior? Find out if you are eligible for Medicare and check out AARP’s Benefits QuickLINK to learn about other programs in your state.
Even if you are eligible for public benefits, many programs require specific documentation and application procedures. Some of the most common types of information that applicants may need to provide are:
- Proof of identity: Birth certificate, driver’s license, U.S. passport, work visa or resident alien card
- Proof of legal residency and work status: Social Security number (SSN), Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
- Proof of residency: Rent or mortgage receipts, lease, utility bills, homeowners or renters insurance details
- Proof of income: Pay stubs, tax returns, Forms W-2 from all jobs, Forms 1099 from all jobs, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) award letter
- Proof of disability: Letter from SSA
- Proof of medical expenses: Prescriptions, co-payment receipts
- Proof of other expenses: Tuition bills/official course enrollment forms, car payment receipts, child care bills
Note: Criteria eligibility varies by program and state. Most applications do not require all of this material. It is recommended that applicants check which documents are needed before enrollment interviews.
Goodwill Can Help
From tax credits and health insurance to child care and transportation, Goodwill can help you jump start your path to self-sufficiency by applying for and claiming the benefits you deserve. Even if you know that you eligible for public benefits, the application process can be complicated and time consuming. For help finding out if you qualify, filling out your application or referral to another agency that can assist you: