GETTING ASSISTANCE FOR NON-FOOD ITEMS
Millions of Americans depend on government-funded food assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program or food stamps to eat on a daily basis. Although these programs cover at least part of food costs, households may still need financial assistance for necessities that are not food. There are government programs available in Texas that offer benefits other than food assistance. In fact, many programs that will provide help with purchasing essential non-food items are available to Texans who are able to establish a financial need. Non-food items that are essential include but are not limited to utilities, living expenses and transportation costs.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, provides short term assistance for individuals and families in dire need of financial help. TANF helps eligible households with most basic living costs including clothing, housing and utilities. TANF is only available to Americans that meet income qualifications. In the state of Texas, only families with dependents can be eligible for TANF benefits for more than a month at a time. Single individuals may receive TANF in a crisis, such as a medical emergency or losing a home. An individual residing legally in TX may receive TANF for no more than 60 months or five years. TANF beneficiaries exhausts their benefits for a lifetime after reaching the eligibility limit maximum.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, is a government assistance program that helps fund the energy costs for households that establish a financial need. LIHEAP provides many benefits, from replacing obsolete air conditioner units to paying an electricity bill. In Texas, LIHEAP has seasonal programs for assistance with heating or cooling costs. Crisis benefits are available all year. Texas households must have a combined income that is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty line to qualify for LIHEAP.
Medicaid and CHIP
Both Medicaid and CHIP are health insurance programs available in TX granted based on financial need. Medicaid and CHIP provide affordable or free healthcare to low income households. These programs place an emphasis on preventative care to promote overall wellness and to catch early signs of a condition before care becomes costly.
To be eligible for Medicaid, an individual residing in TX must be over the age of 65, disabled, pregnant, the parent or guardian of a child younger than 19 years of age or have a member of the household that fits any of these criteria. CHIP only provides healthcare for children younger than 19 years of age. In most cases, a child that lives in a low-income household is eligible for Medicaid health coverage. However, there are some circumstances in which a child with financial need may not qualify for Medicaid. CHIP, or the TexCare Children’s Health Insurance Program, is available to these children to ensure that they have an opportunity to receive health insurance. Children who are already receiving benefits from Medicaid are not eligible for CHIP.