Government Cash Assistance for Unemployed People

The bills certainly don't stop coming just because you've lost your job. When you find yourself overwhelmed with responsibilities and out of work, take heart. Government programs can provide you with both cash and resources to help you get through this rough patch and make it to the other side.



The United States Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF). The program provides cash to families with low income on a monthly basis. What you qualify for depends on your specific circumstances and what state you live in. A family with one adult and two children in Maryland can receive up to $472 a month, while the same family in Kentucky can get $262 a month. That same family in Hawaii could get $712 a month.


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Working Requirements

Receiving benefits from TANF comes with work requirements. Each state's guidelines are different, but all are based on when the state determines the applicant is ready for work. In some states, including Alabama, California and Florida, you must actively begin looking for work immediately. In other states, such as Virginia, New Mexico and New York, you must begin looking for work within three months of applying for benefits. Those with children up to 1 year old are allowed a grace period of up to 12 months before meeting work requirements.



Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another cash-based form of assistance from the government. Applicants must be either disabled, 65 or older, or blind to qualify. You don't have to be employed to apply. If you have unearned income, such as an annuity or veteran's benefit payments, it can't exceed $694 a month (or $1,031 for a couple). One person can receive as much as $674 a month in SSI payments, whereas a couple can receive up to $1,011 a month.


Noncash Government Assistance

Cash assistance isn't the only form of government help. A variety of programs exist to lend a hand in whatever situation you're facing. Apply for food stamps if you're having trouble paying for groceries. Those receiving TANF or SSI automatically qualify for food stamps. Or visit your local Department of Social Services to apply for rental or mortgage assistance. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides affordable public housing to those who qualify, as well as housing vouchers to help you pay for a home.