June 7, 2011

The basics for getting help: Where to begin searching and applying for financial assistance

Where to start your search for financial assistance with rent, utilities, food, clothing, healthcare needs, etc., ...
*Please note that all links to resources mentioned below are provided both on the right hand side of the page, as well as at the bottom of the post.

One of the best places to begin a search for financial assistance is 211. The 211 service provides a list of various resources in your area; and with basic information, they are able to determine what may be available to you and what you may qualify for. You can call 211 or go to the 211 website.

The Salvation Army is frequently on that list, and I would encourage anyone seeking help to check out The Salvation Army website, call the toll free number and/or go to the closest location in person. They offer assistance with rent, utilities, clothes, food, prescription coverage, and a few other resources. It's first come, first served .. therefore, it's best to try to schedule an appointment slot as soon as possible (typically at the beginning of each month), and make sure you can get to the appointment when the time comes.

Catholic Community Outreach Services is another charity at the top of the list when it comes to the number of people they are able to help. Again, you have to be both patient and diligent: Keep calling, make appointments and show up if you have an appointment on the books.

If you are low income (or are making your bills, but still struggling monthly to make everything stretch comfortably), you may very likely qualify for food assistance. If you are in need for basic things like food assistance, please go online or call DSHS. Qualifying for some degree of food assistance (food stamps/EBT) has a more generous requirement guideline. More individuals and families qualify for help than one would expect. Even a little help each month can make a difference with your monthly expenses and ability to pay all your bills. And, a bonus with utilizing EBT is the fact that an individual no longer is forced to use actual "food stamps." Yes, some feel using this form of help is embarrassing, but come on, we all need to eat! Do not deprive yourself and your health. *Also, once qualified for food assistance, you are provided a list of possible other resources (and sometimes enrolled automatically) which may be available to you; i.e., free phone service, now both home/land line and cell phone, along with certain healthcare services and other helpful resources.

For additional utility related assistance, please go to your utility company's customer solution department and request the programs they have available for financial aid. Some companies have one time family grants, in addition to discounts of around 25% (all dependent on that utility company's terms) for those with disabilities, senior discounts, and low income discounts. Also, if you're in need of utility help, contact LIHEAP. Please see the list of links below for LIHEAP's website.

Lastly, Modestneeds.org offers small lump sum grants for a variety of different emergency situations. It varies depending on your location, situation and qualifications. The grant maximum cap is one time $1000 assistance.

For any type of assistance you will frequently find that you are made to "jump through hoops," so to speak. You will typically be required to provide a number of documents. Examples include but are not limited to: Proof of your income, or lack of income (Award letters for SSDI, SSI, unemployment benefits, pay stubs, or statement(s) prepared by the person whom is providing some form of housing and other basic expenses if you are without income), billing statements, shut off notice/eviction notice, as well as identification, social security numbers and cards for each member of a given household, letters of circumstance, tax returns, and so forth. Charities and programs may vary with their particular requirements, but all require some form of identification and proof of your current form of income/means of survival. If you are seeking help from a multitude of places, I would suggest creating a folder/envelope which will contain copies of all possible documents needed to begin the application/qualification process. This will make the entire process go much quicker and easier for both yourself and the respective program/charity from which you are requesting help.

Please scroll down to view links to various sites listed above

Resource Links:

January 23, 2011

Learning how to jump through the hoops and avoid scams along the way

What to do, what to do? Most of my writing involves health related subjects, personal experiences within the medical system, and fun short stories with the intention of generating laughter during a time which seems all to very dark, dismal and simply desperate. But, one thing that I know for certain that relates to these other subjects, and society as a whole, is that money creates a lot of stress, especially when one has very little of it. I, myself, am not unfamiliar with this concept, and am struggling tooth and nail to keep myself afloat. I recently applied for, and was approved for food assistance. This was a tremendous relief, and certainly a huge help to my pocket book in general. Although, I have to admit that it hasn't saved me all that much money, as I was actually unable to buy much food beforehand .. so, like many, I was eating sparsely and taking hand outs and help where I could find it. I am thankful that I now have the option to purchase enough groceries to eat everyday, and to eat healthy food at that!
One thing that I have become very acutely aware of is that in order to receive any sort of assistance for basic survival, given that you are out of a job, disabled or somewhere in between, you have to learn what exactly may be available to you, how to jump through the hoops, and therefore, how to "play the game." This are key points so that you may find yourself on the positive end of this everyday battle. It's easy to become stuck, and for the lack of a better metaphor, banging your end against the wall. So, I would like to share what I have found to be out there, how to access various programs, what you need to do, or not do, in order to qualify, and how to avoid the potholes along the way.
Many people are desperate for cash these days, this fact is certainly not a secret and it's led to many creating increasingly creative scams which ultimately target those whom DO NOT have the funds in the first place. This is a sad fact, but very true, and if one doesn't tread carefully and know what to watch out for, many may fall victim with great ease to an array of different financial scams.

January 11, 2011

Money long gone, need help, now what?

The economy's in the tank and has been for a few years now. As time passes and more people lose most, if not everything which they have worked for their entire professional lives, one can easily become disillusioned, defeated, and frozen in the uncertainly and obvious fear which this perfect storm has generated. Many of those who once lived an upper/middle class lifestyle have slid to a place of living month to month, pay check to pay check, and those whom once scrapped by with the latter, are now behind on most bills and forced to pick and choose which bill gets paid on alternating  months. Finding assistance to make ends meet is a job and battle in and of itself ... and, once a glimmer of hope shines through, you quickly discover you don't fit in that "magic box" for consideration. Now you must learn to work the system, jump through loopholes and be less than honest, which is terribly hard for many of those whom are honest, ethical and decent by nature. The crazy thing is, the system is not set up to help many of those whom truly need help and are clearly following the rules; those whom would greatly benefit from a little boost. It's easy to sink in the financial quick sand, and very challenging to find a way out. Just keeping your little life raft afloat these days is a fete all by itself. I know that this has been the case for myself, and while I have not found the key to success with regard to financial matters, I am learning how to jump through these countless hoops and want to share with you want I have discovered. So for all of you already sitting precariously on the edge and hanging on by a thread, let's move towards finding answers, sorting out what works and what is less than acceptable, what is a scam and what's for real!

Total Pageviews