The definition of welfare
Welfare in the United States can be defined as government programs that provide assistance to members of the community with little or no income. These programs started back in the 1930s after the Great Depression when many families had little or no income and no way to overcome the numerous challenges back then.
Today, welfare refers to temporary assistance provided by state and federal governments to needy families. This aid comes in the form of transport assistance to enable beneficiaries get to work, money for low-income families, money for child care and skills training, among others.
Who qualifies for welfare?
There are certain requirements that one must meet in order to qualify for welfare. These requirements are pegged on things such as:
– residency or citizenship
– income level
– asset ownership
– employment status
Work or employment status
According to the legal requirements of welfare programs in the United States, beneficiaries of the programs must engage in gainful employment or some form of work activity to remain eligible for further assistance. Each US state defines work activities, so applicants need to strictly adhere to these to comply.
Participants should therefore get employed as soon as they can, if they are not already. Beneficiaries to these programs need to know there is a lifetime benefit limit set at the federal level. This limit is five years in most states but is shorter in others. This means that once a person qualifies for the benefits, the maximum time they can receive welfare is a period not exceeding five years.
Single parents need to work for a minimum of 30 hours a week, or 20 hours if they are taking care of a young child, to remain eligible for the welfare programs. A two-parent home needs to clock a minimum of 35 hours per week at the workplace. If there is childcare support as well, then the requirement increases to 55 hours per week.
Generally, parents with kids below the age of six who cannot find suitable childcare services in their area will be exempt from the requirements. Parents still in their teen years receiving welfare need to attend college or a tertiary institute or be on a job-training program.
To be eligible for federal and state welfare programs, applicants must be US citizens. Some non-US citizens may apply to the program and may be considered. They include Green Card holders, refugees, asylum seekers and trafficking victims. Applicants need to provide documentation to prove their status, such as social security number and proof-of-residency documents.
Asset ownership requirements
U.S. welfare programs may sometimes require that applications be subjected to an asset assessment. In many cases, recipients may not own assets worth $3000 and above to be eligible. In some states, the eligibility level is at $1000. However, many states do not subject applicants or beneficiaries to the asset assessment. Assets considered include such things as extra vehicles, cash in bank accounts and real estate.
These welfare programs are meant to benefit deserving applicants, many of whom are in great financial difficulty. Therefore, in order to be eligible, applicants need to be below certain income thresholds defined as federal poverty lines. These vary from state to state, so there is no fixed maximum amount. This amount may change if there is a disabled elderly or sick member in the family.
Anyone who needs to apply for financial welfare should check if they qualify based on the above requirements. However, requirements are likely to vary slightly from state to state so it is advisable to check with local authorities.