Get information on government programs that may help you pay for food, housing, health care, and other basic living expenses. Find out about eligibility requirements for programs like food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid, and how to apply for them.
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 help. They can either 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. You can also find out how and where to apply.
- Using the Benefit Finder, answer questions about yourself and your needs. Afterwards, you can find out if you’re eligible for programs to help you pay for:
- Health insurance
- Utilities and other necessities
Check back with Benefits.gov in the future to see if you’re eligible for additional benefits. You can report major life events or see if new benefit programs have become available.
Search for Benefits and Programs for People With Disabilities
Find government and local disability programs, including housing, jobs, education, and health care.
Do you receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI)? If you need help with your benefits, you can 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.
How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
There are a variety of benefit and aid programs to help you if you lose your job. CareerOneStop.org is a good place to start. It can help with unemployment insurance benefits, job training, and finding a job.
Am I eligible?
Unemployment insurance programs pay you money if you lose your job through no fault of your own. You must meet your state's eligibility requirements.
How do I apply?
Each state runs its own program. Select your state from this map to find out how to apply. You may be able to file online, by phone, or in person.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Some states provide extended benefits when there's high unemployment. Extended unemployment insurance benefits last for 13 weeks. You can apply for extended benefits only once you've run out of regular benefits. Check with your state; not everyone qualifies.
You must report unemployment benefits as income on your tax return.
Other Types of Benefits and Programs for the Unemployed
Federal agencies offer many unemployment education and training programs. They are generally free or low cost to the unemployed.
Self-employment assistance programs help unemployed workers start their own small businesses. Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon offer this program.
Food Stamps (SNAP Food Benefits)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program. Known previously as "food stamps," SNAP benefits can help you stretch your food budget if you have a low income.
Learn About the Types of Food You Can Buy With SNAP Benefits
If you’re eligible, you can purchase food using benefits that are issued to you monthly. You can use your SNAP benefits to buy a variety of foods for your household, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Dairy products
- Breads and cereals
See the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) list of foods and products you can buy using SNAP benefits.
Find Out If You Are Eligible for SNAP
To determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you must meet certain requirements. States have income limits for SNAP recipients. They can also factor in your resources, such as money in the bank, to decide if you qualify for SNAP.
Apply for SNAP Benefits
Use the online map to apply for SNAP and to find your state and local offices and phone numbers. You may also apply in person at your state or local office.
How Your SNAP Benefits Work
- Your state will issue benefits each month on a plastic electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Much like a credit or debit card, you can use your EBT card to buy eligible food items. You must buy them from:
- Some states have 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.
File a Complaint About SNAP
Whether you currently receive SNAP benefits or you're in the process of applying, you can file a complaint using these resources:
SNAP Information For Retailers
Learn how to work with SNAP if you are a retailer or if you operate a farmers market.
Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded, state-run benefits program. Also known as welfare, TANF helps families achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties.
Learn About TANF
Recipients may qualify for help with:
- Home energy
- Child care
- Job training
Each state runs its TANF program differently and has a different name.
Some tribal groups operate their own TANF programs.
Find Out If You're Eligible for TANF
- Each state or tribal territory has its own rules for who is eligible for financial help, services, or other benefits.
- You must be a resident of the state where you are applying.
Apply for TANF
Contact your nearest TANF office to sign-up for benefits.
Report TANF Fraud
If you suspect possible welfare fraud, contact:
Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance program for people with a low income.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers health coverage to children. To be eligible, the child's family must have an income that is:
- Too high to qualify for Medicaid
- Too low to afford private coverage
Medicaid and CHIP program names are different in each state.
Learn About Medicaid
What help is available through Medicaid?
Medicaid provides free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible:
- Adults with a low income
- Pregnant women
- People who are age 65 or over
- People with disabilities
Am I eligible for Medicaid?
Check with your state’s Medicaid office to see if you or your family members are eligible for benefits. In general, it depends on at least one or a combination of:
- Income level
- Number of people in your family
- If you are pregnant or have a disability
How do I apply for Medicaid?
There are two ways to apply for Medicaid:
Learn About the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
If your income is too high for Medicaid, your child may still qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It covers medical and dental care for uninsured children and teens up to age 19.
Is my child eligible for CHIP?
CHIP qualifications are different in every state. In most cases, they depend on income.
How do I apply for CHIP benefits?
You have two ways to apply for CHIP:
What else do I need to know about CHIP?
File a Complaint About Medicaid or CHIP
If you have a problem with Medicaid or CHIP services, you can file a complaint. These programs are managed by each state rather than the federal government. Contact your state's Medicaid program to report your issue.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They'll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
Last Updated: May 17, 2022