February 25, 2014
What is the safety net for the poor?
- From USA Today
Federal and state governments provide a number of programs that make up the safety net for the poor. The programs are administered by the federal government, states or a combination of the two. Income requirements vary by program. For those that follow federal poverty guidelines, a family of four earning up to $23,050 a year can apply.
•Housing vouchers. Rent subsidy of up to 70%. Eligibility based on income as a percentage of area’s median income.
•Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Cash aid for families with children. States set eligibility rules. Federal law requires most recipients to work or go to school. Federal law limits benefits to five years; states can raise or lower that.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Financial assistance for a family below federal poverty guidelines to buy food. Income for a family of four must be less than $2,422 a month.
•Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).Food, health care and nutrition education for pregnant women and mothers with children up to age 5. Eligibility for family of four: income up to $3,446 a month.
•Medicaid. Health care for the elderly, people with disabilities and dependent children and their families.
•Medicare Part D. Discounted prescription drugs for low-income seniors and disabled people.
•State Child Health Insurance Program. Medical care for poor children who are not eligible for Medicaid.
•Free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school. Eligibility for family of four: income up to $3,446 a month.
•Earned Income Tax Credit. Credit against federal tax for low-income working families. Maximum credit or refund for a household with three or more children: $5,751.
•Child Care and Development Fund. Free or reduced-cost child care.
•Supplemental Security Income. Cash aid for poor seniors and people with disablities.
•Pell Grants. Cash for college expenses. No low-income requirement, but poorest students receive largest grants.
•Head Start. School readiness programs, breakfast, lunch and health screenings for preschoolers.
•Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Cash for heating and cooling expenses.
•Weatherization Assistance Program. Energy-efficiency improvements to homes of low-income people.