Thursday, August 20, 2009

Resources for the Down and Out

If you're running out of money, and think you're out of options, remember that, as harsh as economic conditions may get, there still is a compassionate side to America. Taking help from others isn't easy. But hard times sometimes require hard choices. Many who might go hungry themselves for the sake of maintaining appearances have a different outlook when their families are hungry. In this most nasty of recessions, many middle class people who were living paycheck to paycheck experience hunger if they're laid off. It's no longer unusual for visitors to food pantries to drive good cars and live in middle class neighborhoods; they've simply lost their jobs and have no cash for food.

If you think you're just about out of options, here are some resources to keep in mind.

Unemployment Compensation. If you think you qualify for unemployment comp, apply. It's a public benefit for those that have been laid off. Go to your state's website for information.

Food Stamps. This is a federal program that in the past you paid for with your tax dollars. It's there for you if you're in need. The states administer the food stamp program, so go to your state's website for information.

Food Banks. Many communities have food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens. Remember that donations to food banks are wasted if hungry people don't accept the donated food. Your acceptance completes the circle of virtue that comprises charity. When you get back on your feet, you can repay with dividends.

Welfare. The controversial federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children program ended in 1997, but welfare still exists as a federally funded program administered by the states. Go to your state's website for information. Many people who go on welfare stay there for a while and then get their middle class lives back together. Welfare can serve as a temporary safety net until the storm clouds roll away.

SCHIP. If you have children who are 19 or younger and don't have health insurance, there is a program called State Childrens Health Insurance Program that provides subsidized coverage for children in families with moderate or low incomes. It's a federal program administered by the states, so go to your state's website for information.

Medicaid. This is the federal health insurance program for those with low incomes. If you've gotten to the point where your income is low and you have pretty much burned up your net worth, you may qualify for Medicaid. It's a lot better than nothing. Of course, if you're old enough (65), there's also Medicare.

If you need more information about how to survive a layoff or unemployment, see our Survival Kit for the Laidoff and Unemployed:

No comments: