January 31, 2014

Government programs that help our brothers and sisters in need

In this file photo, people stand in line to go to confession at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacrament and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Eligibility and Benefit Information for TANF. (Click the image for a larger size)

So what exactly are some of the most significant government assistance programs for those in need?

TANF—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a program often referred to as “welfare” that provides cash assistance and supportive services to assist families with children under the age of 18. TANF cannot be used to buy alcohol or cigarettes.

As the name implies, this program is only temporary. Children can remain on TANF for up to five years and adults for a maximum of 24 months.

Who is eligible for TANF? Children under the age of 18 who are living with their parents or relatives, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle, who meet specific non-financial criteria and whole countable family income meets the following income guidelines.

The applicant or recipient must provide the Division of Family Resources (DFR) with accurate and complete information regarding the child(ren), parent(s) and all other household members whose income and needs are to be assessed in order to determine eligibility.

Individuals must provide Social Security numbers and meet state residency, citizenship/immigration status, employment and child support assignment requirements.

As a condition of eligibility for TANF, adult applicants are deemed mandatory for IMPACT, Indiana’s employment and training program. They are required to attend applicant job search orientation and complete 20 days of applicant job search activities. Failure to complete the applicant job search program without good cause will result in the denial of the application for cash assistance.

The applicant or recipient is responsible to report any changes in circumstances to DFR within 10 days of the date the changes occurred.

In this file photo, people stand in line to go to confession at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacrament and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Financial criteria for SNAP include income and asset limits. (Click the image for a larger size)

SNAP—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, is responsive to changes in need. The program provides needed food assistance as families fall into economic hardship and then transitions away as their financial situation stabilizes.

To qualify for SNAP, applicants must meet certain non-financial and financial requirements. Non-financial requirements include state residency, citizenship/alien status, work registration and cooperation with the IMPACT (job training) program.

SNAP can only be used on food which includes breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, and seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. Alcohol and cigarettes cannot be bought with SNAP.

SNAP benefits are not intended to purchase all of a household’s meals for the month. A majority of the time, SNAP benefits run out by the third week of the month.

Seventy-six percent of SNAP households include a child, an elderly person or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83 percent of all SNAP benefits.

Only those who are legal citizens of the U.S. can receive SNAP or TANF benefits.

The free or reduced school lunch program is another nutrition assistance program, where children in families who meet the eligibility requirements of SNAP can get a meal at school for free or a reduced cost.

If a family of four has a gross annual income less than $43,568, their children are eligible for this benefit. In Indiana, there are about 506,000 children on this program, or 49 percent of school-aged children. †

 

Related story: Gospel mandate calls Catholics to serve our brothers and sisters in need

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