There are not a lot of grants for free money from the government, unless you’re in college and receiving financial aid there. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, single parents need to have a very low or non-existent income or be disabled or have disabled children. The other possible grant is a little more sad to mention, but if the father of your minor child or children has passed away, you and your children may be eligible for a grant from the federal government.
TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is what AFDC developed into in 1997. It is a welfare program designed to allow children to stay in their homes despite significant financial difficulties. Unfortunately, it can be incredible difficult to qualify for it, and your resources need to be almost non-existent to qualify. I always thought that AFDC was like child support, but from the state.
The truth is that usually TANF is less than what most people get for child support, and you typically cannot keep all of your child support and receive TANF at the same time.
In order to be eligible for TANF, in most states, you will need to have a very low income and have very limited assets. You will be asked to provide verification of your living situation, like a lease, a rent receipt, or a letter from your landlord to verify how many people live in your household. You will probably have to show the birth certificates for your children, and to agree to a work plan. The work plan can go by several different names but it will establish that unless you are exempt, you have to agree to look for work a certain number of hours per week. You may also be required to participate in other activities deemed appropriate by the state, in order to improve your skills or to find work.
TANF comes from federal funds, but is dispersed by the state. Each state will have different guidelines, but you are usually required to have very little money, either on hand or in the bank. You cannot have a car over a certain value ( value varies tremendously by state), and single moms may be asked to assign their child support to the state, particularly if the father is behind on child support. To begin the application process, just ask for an application from the local office. It is administered by the same office that handles food stamps and Medicaid, and often is known as the Department of Health and Human Service.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides payments for disabled children under the age of eighteen, and it makes the payments to their parents or legal guardians. It also provides that same type of benefit to the elderly who are blind or disabled. However, the income and resources of the household, as well as the child, are considered as part of the determination process. This is one type of the social security benefits that individuals can apply for.
Infants with a low birth weight, under 2 pounds, 10 ounces, are usually eligible for at least the first year of their lives. If a child is earning a 1,000 dollars a month, he or she can expect to lose their benefits.
Lasting disabilities that effect the quality or duration of a child’s life will often receive benefits, but the application process can take quite a while. Your child may be eligible for a faster determination of benefits if your child:
- is HIV positive, or has AIDS
- has Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy
- is completely blind or deaf
- has Muscular dystrophy
- is 7 years or older AND is severely mentally retarded
Social Security Survivors Benefits
Social Security Survivors Benefits are a very unique type of payment. Single moms may be eligible for these payments if any of the following apply to you or your children:
- That the biological, legal, or adoptive father of your minor children passed away before they turned 18, or before they had graduated high school
- If you were married to the father of at least one of your children at the time of his death, OR were married to him for at least ten years.
- That at least one of these children remain in your care
- Any child that was permanently disabled before age 22
There is a payment that you may be eligible for, as the caregiver of minor or disabled children.
The payments that you receive are based on the amount that the deceased payment paid in, so he has to have worked for at least a few years in most cases. My mother passed away only a few days after my younger sister passed away, so my dad got benefits for her for a year and a half until she graduated high school. It does take a while to be approved, I believe it took eight months for my dad to get his first payment, but it did include back payments.
To apply for any type of social security assistance, you can either call their offices at 1-800-772-1213 or go to the local office and apply in person. Some people can apply online, at http://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/.
Finding financial assistance from the state or Federal government can be a difficult and time-consuming process. If you are not approved right away, you should be able to appeal any decision that you do not believe to be accurate.