Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - provides benefits to people with disabilities when they cannot currently work due to a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year. The medical condition must meet the Social Security definition of disability and the person must have worked at a job counted by Social Security. Applicants for SSDI must generally meet a minimum threshold of years worked. (www.ssa.gov)
Social Security Income (SSI) - is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind and people with disabilities who have little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. (www.ssa.gov)
Housing Voucher - The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. (www.pahousingchoices.org)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - is a government assistance program to help low-income households pay for food. SNAP was formerly called the Food Stamp program. The amount of SNAP food stamps a household receives depends on the household's size, income and expenses. The funds are credited to a debit card at the beginning of each month and the card can be used at stores that accept food stamps. (www.usda.gov) or (www.pa.gov)
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) - is a home energy assistance programs for low-income households to help low-income families pay their heating bills. The benefit amount depends on family income and heating costs. The program was started so low-income people would not have to choose between heating their homes and buying food or other things they need. Most people who get home energy assistance also qualify for other energy assistance programs. (www.benefits.gov)
Pennsylvania's Weatherization Assistance Program - increases energy efficiency in homes by reducing energy costs and increasing comfort while safeguarding health and safety. On-site energy audits are conducted to assess conditions in homes and to identify the most cost-effective energy saving measures to be installed.
Weatherization services include, but are not limited to:
• Blower door guided air sealing to effectively locate and reduce air-leakage throughout the home
• Installation of attic, wall, basement and crawlspace insulation and ventilation to reduce energy loss
• Heating system modification or replacement to increase the efficiency or safety of the heating system
• Minor repairs or health and safety measures are provided (when necessary) to allow the safe and effective installation of the weatherization measures
• Client education on the proper use and maintenance of the installed Weatherization measures and ways to reduce energy waste everyday
Eligibility Criteria: Eligible applicants include low-income individuals (at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level), with priority given to higher risk residents such as the elderly, people with disabilities, families with children and high energy users. (www.benefits.gov)
Telephone Assistance (www.puc.pa.gov)
The Lifeline 135 Program - is available for customers of all qualified telephone service providers. It helps customers who have incomes at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or receive help from any of the following programs:
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
• Federal Public Housing Assistance
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
Lifeline 135 - helps reduce the cost of monthly phone service for one telephone line. Customers who receive Lifeline 135 may also purchase optional services such as Caller ID at the normal cost.
Lifeline - is a program available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, commonwealth, territory and Tribal lands. The Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Lifeline helps reduce the cost of monthly phone service for one telephone line. www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/lifeline-support-affordable-communications
Safelink - offers 350 free monthly minutes; unlimited text messages; unlimited calls to UPMC for life dual member services and 911 calls; text messages with health tips and reminders and $.10 for any additional minutes over the 350 free minutes. There are three ways to apply for Safelink phone and service: online at www.safelink.com; call Safelink at 1.877.631.2550 or complete an application and mail it to Safelink.
Universal Telephone Assistance Program (UTAP) - helps Verizon PA customers who qualify for Lifeline pay their overdue bills, avoid shut off’s and restore basic local telephone service. Contact Verizon at 800.640.4155 for more information.
Electric and Gas Utility Assistance - All of Pennsylvania’s major electric and gas utility companies are required to provide Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs). CAPs generally provide local residents with a percentage of a bill plan or a percentage of an income payment plan, so that low-income customers’ utility and gas bill payments are based upon their total household incomes and/or dollar amount of utility bills. Each utility may have their own version, as some assistance programs include utility arrearage forgiveness; others provide flat rate discounts or bill credits. Contact your local utility company and refer to this option.
Water Assistance - Pennsylvania’s water companies are also required to provide Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs). Contact your local water company for information.
Rent Rebate - Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits people who are 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older and people with disabilities, 18 or older. People who meet the age and income requirements may receive a refund on their property tax or rent paid during the previous year. (www.pa.gov)
Money Management and Budgeting seems to be a difficult thing for many people without a disability to do and can be even harder for those with a disability. Knowing how to budget and save money is a key in independent living. This money management guide breaks down budgeting into steps that are easier to do and understand. (http://www.fliconline.org/documents/patffinancialeducationbooklet-final.pdf)
ACHIEVA Family Trust has helped many families and individuals with a disability to keep their benefits, have better control over their money and to be prepared in the case of a death. There are many resources the Family Trust can provide to families. If you would like more information on the Family Trust, please visit their website at (www.achieva.info/achieva-family-trust).