Individuals and families can discover if they qualify for government assistance by visiting benefits.gov and using the "benefit finder" to match their situation to relevant types of aid. Government assistance can take various forms and is primarily available for Americans with low incomes.
The largest form of government assistance is social security benefits for seniors, which are available for seniors age 65 and older who have paid into their social security account throughout their work history. Seniors may also receive Medicare to assist with their health care coverage. There are special social security benefits for blind and permanently disabled individuals. This department also pays disability benefits for workers with chronic diseases or short and long-term injuries.
Another common form of government assistance is food stamp benefits, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Those applying for SNAP must go through their county office and fill out an application. The applicant must prove their income falls below a certain poverty requirement, which varies depending on the number of people in the household. College students must meet certain work requirements to receive SNAP. Students are eligible for government assistance in the form of financial aid, which offers grants, loans and work study opportunities.
Since the onset of the 2008 recession, opportunities for government assistance have expanded. There are government grants and loans available to start a small business. There are also tax incentives for home owners and renters. Unemployment benefits, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) are all considered government assistance. Counties may also offer programs for low cost housing.