Are you waiting on your Social Security disability claim review or appealing a denial? If you’re disabled and struggling to make ends meet, your life may feel overwhelming. (Maybe even more so while you’re raising kids or grandkids.) Luckily, financial assistance can help you and other families in your situation. Don’t have any children at home? You may still qualify for state and federal financial assistance programs. These programs help low-income Americans cover things like utility bills, home repairs and prescription costs. Read on for the details below.
Financial Assistance Program #1: TANF (Cash Payments for Families Raising Children)
Every U.S. state administers a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. (Click that link, then click on the state you live in to access your state’s TANF program website.) TANF provides financial assistance for eligible low-income Americans. States receive grants to design and operate programs that provide assistance for families. Most states use this specific financial assistance program to promote family values and lifestyles. However, grandparents raising grandkids can apply for a TANF “Child-Only Payment” in their state. Texas, for example, offers a one-time-only $1,000 payment for grandparents that qualify.
Financial Assistance Program #2: Low-Income Energy Office (Utility Bills)
Paying for water, gas, and electricity can feel nearly impossible when you’re disabled and out of work. In extreme summer and winter temperatures, these bills can cost you hundreds every month. But help is available to pay these bills and keep your utilities running year-round. The first step towards getting this money is signing up through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Visit the Low-Income Energy Office’s website, then click your state on the interactive map. This is the fastest way to find utility programs in your area offering financial assistance with your energy bill.
For help finding your local Low-Income Energy Office, call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) toll-free at 1-866-674-6327.
Financial Assistance Program #3: Section 504 Home Repair Program (Rural & Older Homeowners)
Some home repairs can’t wait until money magically appears to cover the cost. If your house has a leak or structural damage that makes your living conditions unsafe, take action. Loans are available at a 1% interest rate for homeowners in rural areas. The USDA’s Section 504 Home Repair program provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize houses. It also gives very-low-income older homeowners grants to remove health and safety hazards. You must meet the following eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a loan:
- Own the house that needs repairing and occupy it
- Have no way to get an affordable loan elsewhere
- Your family income must be low enough to qualify, according to your state’s specific limits
For those aged 62 and older with no way to pay money back for repairs, the program also offers grants. To see if your home might qualify for low or no-cost repairs, check your property’s address here. (You must first click the “accept” button on this page first to get to the page where you’ll enter your address.)
Financial Assistance Program #4: National Diaper Bank Network (Basic Needs for Babies)
Diapers are very expensive. This cost can add up quickly for both parents and grandparents alike. If you need diapers as well as other basic baby needs, you have two options:
- Call 2-1-1, or visit 211.org and then search for local resources online
- Visit the Need Diapers Now? website and scroll down to your state to find local resources that provide diapers at no cost to you
You can also contact local food pantries and churches. Then, ask if they have diapers, formula or other basics available just for babies in need.
Financial Assistance Program #5: Free or Low-Cost Prescription Drug Programs
Prescription drug companies often provide free or discounted medicine to people who cannot afford them. They do this through Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). Each program has its own qualifying criteria.
NeedyMeds.org lets you search financial assistance programs for either brand name or generic drugs. From there, click on the first letter in your medicine’s name in the alphabet bar. Then, scroll down until you see the specific drug name you’re looking for and click on it. You’ll probably see several different round blue circles. Click each one to see different financial assistance options. If you see a blue circle with two capsules inside, click it to display PAP eligibility requirements and contact information.
Important: You must fax or mail your application directly to the PAP that covers your specific medication, not NeedyMeds!
Don’t see the brand-name or generic drug you need help with listed there? Try RxAssist’s Patient Assistance Program (PAP) site.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
A disability advocate or lawyer filing your claim makes you twice as likely to get benefits the first time you apply. Those who qualify for legal assistance through this website usually get $10,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits. People who apply on their own without help usually get denied at least once, and must appeal. If that describes you, expect to wait 12-18 months before pleading your case in court. Can’t afford to go up to two years with no income while you wait for SSD approval? All disability lawyers work on contingency. That means you’ll pay $0 for legal assistance if the SSA won’t approve your claim. But if you do win benefits, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation now.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.