By Paige Lee, Service Coordinator
It’s every family’s nightmare. You’ve suddenly lost your job and your spouse is only working part-time. Or maybe yours has been a single income family. Suddenly, you have to worry about how you are going to put food on the table for your family or pay your mortgage. You know you need some financial help, but wonder where to go or what to ask? You might even feel embarrassed about asking for help or taking a “government handout.” But there are programs available that can help you get though these tough times and get back on your feet.
There are many needs-based assistance programs that can help ease the financial burden so many people are experiencing right now in this difficult economy. The Department of Social Services offers programs designed to help people struggling to pay their bills. One of the most well-known programs is the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. The amount of food stamps an individual or family is eligible for depends on their income, living expenses, and family size. A single person may be eligible for up to $200 per month in food stamps, depending on his or her income and living expenses. For help with utility bills, the Maryland Energy Assistance Program provides a yearly grant to individuals and families that is paid directly to BGE or other utility companies operating in Maryland. The grant is divided up throughout the year and reduces an individual or family’s monthly utility bill.
A loss of a job may also mean a loss of health care coverage. Although COBRA coverage may be an option, it can be prohibitively expensive, particularly with little or no income. Applying for Medicaid (also known as Medical Assistance) may be a better option for families who have experienced a significant decrease in income. For individuals with no dependent children, the state of Maryland offers a program called Primary Adult Care (PAC), which offers basic health coverage for adults with low income. To apply for any of these programs, go to your local Department of Social Services or apply online at www.marylandsail.org.
Sometimes a medical condition can also make it difficult or impossible to work. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to apply for disability benefits through Social Security. There are two main types of benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance provides benefits for workers who have paid into the Social Security system. When an illness or injury prevents you from working, you may be able to get a monthly SSDI payment after applying for and being approved for benefits. For individuals who have not worked long enough to receive SSDI, Social Security offers another program called Supplemental Security Income (or SSI). This is a needs-based program to help people with disabilities. Applications can be done online or at a local Social Security office.
Navigating the system can be scary, difficult and often confusing. Jewish Community Services has trained professionals who can help you understand the various programs for which you may be eligible. If you would like to talk to a Service Coordinator, call JCS at 410.466.9200.
By Paige Lee, Service Coordinator, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.