Government Benefits

Learn about federal government programs, including unemployment benefits, and how to find which ones are available to you.

Benefits and Financial Assistance from the Government

If you're looking for immediate or emergency help, your state's human service or social service agency might be able to provide financial assistance or refer you to local community organizations.

Search for Financial Assistance from the Government

Benefits.gov is a free website that can help you determine which types of government assistance you might qualify for and how and where to apply.

  • Using the Benefit Finder, answer questions about yourself and your needs to see if you’re eligible for programs to help you pay for food, health insurance, or other necessities.

Check back with Benefits.gov in the future to see if you’re eligible for additional benefits after major life events and as new benefit programs become available.

Search for Benefits and Programs for People with Disabilities

Beginning December 16, 2016 the Disability.gov website will no longer be available.

If you receive Social Security disability benefits, review these top questions about Social Security.

Search for Benefits for Military Veterans and Their Families

Learn about veterans benefits such as burial, education, health, and housing.

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Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefit programs pay money to workers who:

  • Become unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Meet certain eligibility requirements as determined under state law.

How to Apply

You must apply for unemployment benefits through your state unemployment insurance office. Each state has different requirements.

Extended and Emergency Benefits

Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits are available to workers who have already collected all regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment.

Educational Assistance

If you are unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits, visit Opportunity.gov to find education and training opportunities, including help with education costs.

Self-Employment Assistance

Self-employment assistance offers unemployed workers the opportunity to create their own jobs by starting their own small businesses. This is a voluntary program offered by these states: Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Unemployment Benefits and Taxes

Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable. You must report any unemployment benefits you receive as part of your gross income. Visit the Unemployment Compensation website from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

General Contact Information

For additional information about unemployment benefits, contact the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Employment and Training Administration.

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Food Stamps (SNAP Food Benefits)

Learn about Food Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federally-funded benefit program formerly known as "food stamps."

The benefits you'll get from SNAP are loaded onto an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a credit or debit card.

How to Get Food Benefits

  1. Eligibility. To determine if you are eligible, gather information showing your income, rent or mortgage, utility bills, child support, daycare expenses, medical bills, Supplement Security  Income (SSI), and Social Security or VA payments. You will need this information as part of the process qualifying for your state's food benefit program. 

  2. Application. Find the online application for your state. You'll find local office addresses and phone numbers in the same place. You can also apply in person at a state or local office.

  3. Receive your card. If your state determines that you qualify for food benefits, they will send you an EBT card.

  4. Manage your benefits. Access food benefits at your local authorized SNAP retailers. You can use the card at a cash register like a credit or debit card to pay for food.

  5. Purchase food items.You can use the card to purchase eligible food items at local retailers like grocery stores and at some farmer's markets.

Some states have EBT websites set up for managing your benefits. If your state doesn't have an EBT management website, you can contact your state SNAP office to check your benefits.

Become a SNAP Food Benefits Retailer

If you're a retailer or work with a farmers market, you can apply online or call the SNAP Retailer Service Center at 1-877-823-4369 to become authorized to accept SNAP.

Report SNAP Food Benefits Fraud

If you suspect an individual or a retailer is committing SNAP fraud, you can report it to your state online or by phone.

Learn more about this food benefit program. You may be eligible to receive other government benefits.

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Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Learn About Short-Term Financial Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), also known as welfare, is designed to help families recover from temporary difficulties and move forward. 

Recipients may qualify for help with food, housing, home energy, child care, job training, and more.

Each state and tribal government's TANF program is operated differently, and has a different name.

Benefits Eligibility

Each state and territory decides the specific eligibility criteria that must be met to receive financial assistance payments or other types of benefits and services.

Check with your local TANF office to learn whether you are eligible to receive financial assistance or other TANF benefits and services.

How to Get TANF

Contact your local TANF office to apply for financial assistance.

Report TANF Benefits Fraud

If you suspect possible TANF fraud, contact your local TANF office or contact the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Inspector General's Fraud Hotline.

Learn more about this program for families in need. You may be eligible to receive other government benefits.

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Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Learn About Medicaid

Medicaid provides free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) names vary state by state. Learn what they’re called in your state.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Your state will determine if you qualify for Medicaid. Check with your state's Medicaid office to see if you are eligible to receive benefits and to apply.

Learn About CHIP

CHIP covers uninsured children and teens up to age 19 in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. This coverage includes health and dental plans.

Eligibility and How to Apply

States have different eligibility rules. You can apply by contacting your state office or calling 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669), a free and confidential hotline, to be connected directly to your state's program.

Using Your Coverage

Learn how your Medicaid or CHIP coverage and care work.

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Last Updated: February 28, 2017

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