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It must be a real struggle to be faced with a mountain of debt plus to be faced living life with a disability. I will try to help you as much as I possibly know how to do. It seems that life has handed you some bad cards here, so I'll see how I can help.
You are very likely eligible for many programs to help pay for your bills and other daily expenses and you also might be able to get out right cash that you will be able to use to pay off credit cards or other debt. There is little to no programs that I am aware of that you can use to pay off existing credit card bills. You are going to have to be resourceful and try to use these other money programs to free up your limited cash to pay off debt.
I know this is not going to be as easy as having a white knight ride in on a horse and solve all your problems. The reality is that it will be a long process, in which you are going to have to take one small step at a time, and keep taking small steps until you eventually wind up where you want to be. You will be identifying one small program here and another there and that will lead you to another that neither of us had no idea was there. What I am saying is that even the answers that I can give you after working with government programs for over 25 years is in no way going to represent everything that is out there. The real answer is that there is a whole bunch of help out there and it's going to take a bunch of effort on your part to find the relevant programs that you can take advantage of. Now let's get you started...
The first thing you must do is go through the basic programs that are available to people who need extra funds and determine which of these programs you may be eligible for. There is an income requirement stated on some of the programs. Even though your income may be a bit greater than what is stated, you should still investigate the program for eligibility because many of these programs have some flexibility in their applications and some may not consider income what you consider income. So in the program's eyes you are making less than you think you do. It can't hurt to ask.
1) $5,000 Worth of Free Health Care for KidsThere are over 6 million families who are eligible and don't apply for this program that gives free health care services for kids. Almost every state now has a Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIPS), which extends medical coverage to many children who may not be covered. For more information on a national level call 877-KIDS-NOW; 877-543-7669 or go to www.insurekidsnow.gov --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to $38,700 for a family of 4
2) $8,000 to Train for a New JobThose looking for work can apply for money and re-training under the Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act. The program is administered by each state, and because of that, the program differs from state to state. Workers can receive classroom, occupational skills, entrepreneur training and/or on-the-job training to qualify for jobs in demand. Basic and remedial education, entrepreneurial training, and instruction in literacy or English-as-a-second-language may be provided. To contact the national office or to find your local one-stop career center in your area contact: Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-5426, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210; 202-693-3580; One-Stop Career Center Locator at http://www.servicelocator.org/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: Most have no income requirements, but you must be looking for a job.
3) $10,000 for Down Payment, Closing Costs or Rehabilitation The American Dream Downpayment Initiative offers grants up to $10,000 to first-time single parent homebuyers. Find a local U.S. HUD approved housing counseling agency in your area by calling 1-800-569-4287 or go to http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hccprof14.cfm. For the national office contact American Dream Downpayment Initiative, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/programs/home/addi/index.cfm --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to 80% of median family income, $50,185 for US.
4) Make $32,000 & Get Free Prescription Drugs Valium, Prozac, and Dilantin are just a few of the medications you can get FREE directly from the drug companies themselves. That's right: drug companies don't want everybody to know this, but they will give certain people who can't afford their medications their drugs free of charge if you participate in their "indigent patient programs." Your doctor needs to sign a form stating that you cannot afford the drugs that you need. Once the forms are filled out they are shipped directly to your doctor's office. Contact Partnership for Prescription Assistance; 888-4PPA-NOW; www.pparx.org--Income Eligibility Requirements: each company has separate requirements, some have no income requirement, but you must show a need
5) Up to $10,400/Yr for SeniorsIf you are over 65, blind or disabled and if you have limited income and limited resources be sure to check because you maybe eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Studies show that only about 53% of eligible seniors apply. This means at least one million seniors are out there who can get the money but don't know it exists. And that's not counting blind and disabled, which could double that number. To apply, call 1-800-772-1213 or go to http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability . --Income Eligibility Requirements: $6,300/yr for single, $9,400/yr for couple with many exceptions see http://www.ssa.gov/notices/supplemental-security-income/text-eligibility-ussi.htm
6) Up to $10,700/Yr if You Can't Work Because of a DisabilityYou must have worked in a job covered by Social Security and have a medical condition covered by Social Security's definition of a disability that can keep you out of work for at least one year. To apply 1-800-772-1213 or go to http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm --Income Eligibility Requirements: None, just unable to work
7) $6,000/Yr to Pay for GroceriesGovernment studies show that over 16 million families are eligible for this money, but are not applying. It is estimated that in cities like Galveston, TX nearly 50% of the people eligible to receive this money are not aware of the program and do not apply. For the national Food Stamp Program office contact U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 3101 Park Ctr., Dr., Park Office Center Bldg., Alexandria, VA 22302; 703-305-2276; http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: $24,516/yr for family of 4
8) Extra $938 for Seniors and DisabledEach year over 43% of eligible seniors and people with disabilities fail to apply for a little-known program that will give them over $938 extra in their Social Security check. That's how much the government deducts for Medicare Part B payments. There are three programs: Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries Plan, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries Plan and Qualified Individual. For Medicare Savings Programs in Ohio contact 614-466-6282 or go to http://jfs.ohio.gov/. For the national office contact Medicare Hotline at 800-MEDICARE or go to www.medicare.gov. Request information about Medicare Savings Programs by getting the publication, "Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare." --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to $12,576/yr for a single and $16,872/yr for a couple
9) 25 Million Seniors and Doctors are Unaware of Free Health Services A government study shows that there are a number of screening and immunizations that are recommended for seniors, but both seniors and doctors are unaware they are covered by Medicare. Nine out of ten seniors visit a doctor once a year but don't know that Medicare will cover immunizations for Influenza, Hepatitis B, and Pneumococcal, as well as screenings for cervical cancer (pap smear), breast cancer (mammography), vaginal cancer (pelvic exam), colorectal cancer (fecal-occult blood test), colorectal cancer (flexible sigmiodoscopy or colonoscopy), osteoporosis (bone mass measurement), prostate cancer (prostate specific antigen test and/or digital rectal examination), and glaucoma.
10) $1,800 Food Money for Women & ChildrenUncle Sam wants women and kids to have healthy food. The Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program's mission is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 that are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care. WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula and infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit and/or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans or peas, tuna fish and carrots.
In addition to the regular WIC program, a majority of the states have chosen to operate the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), established in 1992, it provides additional coupons to WIC participants that they can use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets.For the national office contact WIC, www.fns.usda.gov/fns/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: $35,798/Yr for a family of 4
11) Up to $100 for Seniors to Buy Fresh Fruit & VegetablesIt's called the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and provides vouchers to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs from farmers' markets and road side stands. For the national office contact, Supplemental Food Programs Division, Food and Nutrition Service - USDA, 3101 Park Center Dr., Alexandria, VA 22302; 703-305-2746; http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/SeniorFMNP/SFMNPmenu.htm --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to $17,705/yr for a single and $23,736/yr for a couple
12) Families Receive Cash, Child Care, Transportation, Health Care & Job TrainingUnder a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), low-income families with children are eligible for a full range of cash and services to help them become strong and economically self-reliant. For the national office contact Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW, Washington, DC 20201; http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: $9,708/yr for family of 4
13) $657 Million Available in Uncollected Child SupportThe government has been very successful at collecting child support money from deadbeat spouses' tax returns and other sources, but families are not getting this money. The government is sitting on it waiting for custodial parents to call. The government likes this money because it generates over $50 million in interest and income. For the national office contact Office of Child Support Enforcement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20447; 202-401-9383;www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cse/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: None
14) $1,200/Month in Day Care Money While You Look for WorkThe Child Care and Development Block Grant gives money to states to help families meet their child care needs. Parents may choose from a variety of child care providers, including center-based, family child care and in-home care, care provided by relatives, and even sectarian child care providers. For the National Office contact National Child Care Information Center, 243 Church Street, NW, Vienna, VA 22180; 800-616-2242; http://nccic.org .--Income Eligibility Requirements: up to$37,080 for a family of 4
15) $2,500 to Pay Your Insulation BillsAs many as 20-30 million people are eligible to receive storm windows, insulation, and even weather-stripping that can help reduce their heating and cooling bills through the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance program. Preference is given to persons over 60, those with disabilities and families with children. You must apply through your state weatherization agency. States allocate dollars to non-profit agencies for purchasing and installing energy-related repairs, with an energy audit being the first step to determine what is necessary. The average grant is $2,500. For the national office contact Weatherization Assistance Programs Branch, EE44, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20585; 800-DIAL-DOE; http://www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/ --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to $28,418 for a family of 4
16) $2,800 to Pay Your Heating BillEven if you are not approved for the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, you might still be eligible for short-term assistance on your utility bill from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP offers heating and cooling subsidies and energy crisis intervention to assist in weather-related or fuel supply shortages and household energy-related emergencies, such as utility shutoffs. For the national office contact Office of Community Services, Division of Energy Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW, 5th Floor West, Washington, DC 20447; 202-401-9351; toll-free 866-674-6327; www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/liheap --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to $28,418 for a family of 4
17) $27,500 in Grants and Loans to Fix-Up Your HomeThat is the amount of money you can get to repair your rural home through the Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Loan program. These low-interest long-term loans (up to $20,000) and grants (up to $7,500) help low-income homeowners in rural areas to repair, improve, or modernize their dwellings or to remove health and safety hazards. This includes repairs or replacement of heating, plumbing or electrical services, roof or basic structure as well as water and waste disposal systems, and weatherization. Grant funds are only available to homeowners aged 62 or older who cannot repay a Section 504 Loan. For the national office contact Single-Family Housing Processing Division, Rural Housing Service, Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250; 202-720-1474; http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/common/program_info.htm#SFH --Income Eligibility Requirements: up to 50% of median family income
18) $3,000 for Your Boss to Train YouMost every state has grant money to train their workers. Many big businesses take advantage of this money, but most small businesses have no idea it's there. Workers don't realize that they can tell their bosses or prospective employers about this program so they can get the job they want or the raise they deserve. To contact the national office or to find your local one-stop career centers in your area, contact: Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-5426, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210; 202-693-3580; One-Stop Career Center Locator at http://www.servicelocator.org/ ---Income Eligibility Requirements: None
19) Free Dental Care for KidsMany dentists will provide free dental care, according to an American Dental Association survey that states, "75% of its members provide charitable care." You can find free dental services offered in your state at www.prnewswire.com/mnr/ada/10357; just click on your state or contact: American Dental Association, 211 East Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-2678; 312-440-2500; www.ada.org--Income Eligibility Requirements: Determined on a case by case basis
20) Free Health Care When You Have No Insurance CoverageHealthcare centers around the country offer everything from mental health to dental services. Contact: Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; http://www.ask.hrsa.gov/pc/. --Income Eligibility Requirements: Each facility has different requirements, normally on a sliding scale.
21) 3.5 Million Families Can Get a Check for up to $4,300That's how many people are eligible for this but don't apply. It's called a tax credit, but it is really a grant. It is extra money the IRS will give you that's better than a refund because they will give it to you even if you don't pay any taxes. You just have to have some income, and the less income you have the bigger the check you get. You can make up to $35,458 and still be eligible. Get the free publication called IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Tax Credit by calling 1-800-829-3676 or go to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p596.pdf. Free tax services are available for incomes up to $35,000 from a service called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). To find your local VITA program contact your local public library or your Congressman's office at www.congress.org. You can also try the IRS hotline at 1-800-TAX-1040; or see www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=119845,00.html .--Income Eligibility Requirement: up to $35,000 per taxpayer
22) Save $120 on Your Phone BillUnder the Federal Communication Commission's Link-Up American and Lifeline programs, low-income households seeking telephone service are given a 50% discount on local connection charges, and may be able to pay installment payments on the remaining charges. You may also receive discounts up to $10 per month on the phone line charges. For more information contact your local phone company or check out the Federal Communications Commission at http://www.lifeline.gov/
I have personally talked with hospitals and found programs within the hospital that paid a person's health care debt. I have been called by people who told me that they got $30,000 health care debt eliminated because they could not pay. You can fight and find local programs or sympathetic professionals that can eliminate or reduce your bills. Here is how I would go about doing this:
1) Contact every health organization or professional that you owe money to. Start asking any person that answers the telephone: "Who do you talk with to try to reduce your bill because there is no way you will be able to pay it?" If it is a large organization like a hospital, ask for the social worker. If they are not helpful call up again and ask for accounting. I was able to get the accounting department in the hospital to tell me about an internal program that paid off a bill. Keep calling, keep asking, keep pleading your case in a strong and polite manner.
2) See if any of the organizations you are dealing with are part of the Hill Burton Act. This is a program where participating health organizations have to give you free services if you cannot afford to pay the bill. Here is the info on this program:
Free Hospital Care
Don't have money for your gall bladder surgery? What about that hospital visit you had two months ago? You might not have to pay a cent. Call the Hill-Burton Hotline. Certain hospitals and other health care facilities provide free or low-cost medical care to patients who cannot afford to pay. You may qualify even if your income is up to double the Poverty Income Guidelines. That's $36,200 for a family of four! You can apply before or after you receive care, and even after the bill has been sent to a collection agency. Call the Hotline to find out if you meet the eligibility requirements and to request a list of local hospitals who are participating. Contact Hill-Burton Hotline, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; 800-638-0742; 800-492-0359 (in MD); http://www.hrsa.gov/hillburton/default.htm
3) Find Patient Advocacy Groups That May HelpBut you can call other government offices and advocacy groups that will do your fighting for you or give you the needed weapons to do your own fighting. Call all of the groups below that are relevant and ask them for help to identify programs or other sources for a bill that you cannot possibly pay.
4) Your Elected OfficialYour elected representatives are in the business of seeing how they can help you locate money, services or anything else you need. They can also be handy if you have applied for government money and you can't seem to get a specific government agency to respond to you. Most elected officials have people on their staff whose job it is to do just that for voters. This is why politicians are always getting re-elected. If they do a favor for you, you will vote for them forever, no matter what they do.
Contact them all. They are all getting a government salary to help you and they all have access to different resources. The worst that can happen is that more than one person solves your problem. If you need help finding them go to www.congress.org or your local library.
5) Local Volunteer OrganizationsThere are a number of national volunteer organizations around the country that offer grants and other free services to solve problems for people in their community. The Lions Club awarded over $340 million in grants since they started, and the Kiwanis Clubs gives out over $100 million every year.
Catholic Charities USA1731 King St., #200Alexandria, VA 22314703-549-1390www.catholiccharitiesinfo.orgOver 14,000 local organizations offer a variety of services for many different community problems including child care, elderly services, emergency financial services, rental assistance, and more. To find an office near you go to their main website and see "Need Assistance? Find A Local Agency?" and put in your state.
Salvation Army National Headquarters615 Slaters LaneP.O. Box 269Alexandria, VA 22313703-684-5500www.salvationarmyusa.org/Families in need can receive a wide range of services, including utility assistance, transitional housing emergency food, clothing, and more. For an office near you, contact the headquarters above or http://www.redshield.org/
United Way of America701 North Fairfax StreetAlexandria, VA 2314703-836-7112www.unitedway.orgTo find a local chapter go to the website and enter your zip code under "Find A Local United Way."
6) Non-Profits Will Pay For Health ExpensesThere are thousands of non-profit organizations that provide help and even financial assistance to individuals and families who are suffering with most any illness or condition you can think of. You can get:
You can look for relevant organizations by researching National Health Information Center, P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013, 800-336-4797, www.health.gov/nhic
There is also a database of over 400 non-profit and government organizations that was set up to help families that have special needs when they are stuck with a health-related problem. It says it is for kids, but many of the organizations help anyone in need. Go to www.bravekids.org and take a look.
1) If You Ever Have Trouble Paying Your Rent Or MortgageThere are now programs that will make your mortgage payments for you when you get into financial trouble. One of the best ways to find out if there are programs like this in your area is to contact the local HUD-approved Housing Counseling agencies. To find your closest agency, contact your state housing office, or the Housing Counseling Center locator at 800-569-4287; http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm.
2) If You Need Free Credit RepairThe Federal Trade Commission has many publications to get you on the road to good credit and can also tell you how to repair your credit for free. Check them out at www.ftc.gov; 877-FTC-HELP.
3) See If You Are Eligible For Programs At Your Local Community Action AgencyOver 1,000 local non-profit offices offer free money and help to improve your life in almost any area. Although these agencies do get money from the federal government, they also get money from other sources, and as a result, no two of these offices are exactly alike. But most all of them help in the area of employment, bill paying, child care and self employment. The following is a sample of programs you will find when you contact an office near you. Along with the program, we also identify the local agency providing this program. These programs are specific to these areas. Check with your local office to see what they offer.
Get a $3 grant for every $1 you saveCommunity Action Partnership http://www.managingmymoney.com/
Free Cars, if you pay repairs and registrationCAP Agency Shakopee, MN http://www.capagency.org/pages/service.htm
Eviction PreventionTEAM, Inc Derby, CT http://www.teamcaa.org/housing.htm
$10,000 to start a businessCommunity Action Program, Inc of Western Indiana http://www.capwi.org/new_page_9.htm
$700 for child careCommunity and Family Services, Inc. Portland, IN www.comfam.net/pages/childcare.html
$350 for an air conditionerCity of Des Moines, Iowa http://www.ci.des-moines.ia.us/departments/CD/Comm%20Serv/L-I%20Assist%20Programs.htm
$1,000 to repair your furnaceCity of Des Moines, Iowa http://www.ci.des-moines.ia.us/departments/CD/Comm%20Serv/L-I%20Assist%20Programs.htm
$45/month for pre-schoolMid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc., Remsen, IA http://www.mid-siouxopportunity.org/ccr/community_resources/empowerment.html
To find a community action agency near you go to: http://www.communityactionpartnership.com/about/links/map.asp or contact Community Action Partnership, 1100 17th St NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036; 202-265-7546; Fax: 202-265-8850; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.communityactionpartnership.com
If your local agency doesn't have what you need, ask for names of other organizations that might be able to help.
You live in America and pay taxes. You have a right to know about and use these programs. If you run into a road block, don't let a little negative feedback stop you. Try the next program, and then the next. And then start looking for more. This country has so much to offer, but you have to find it.
Are you tired yet? I know it is a major effort to track down what you need. But I am sure you already know that the good things in life don't come easy. It takes work to get what you really need in life. The problem is that our life has become very complicated and no one person has all the answers. Even the experts don't know what they are talking about nowadays. But what is wonderful about this complicated society is that most of the good information is free, and most of the best help in our society is free. But the people handing out the free stuff do not have money to advertise that they are giving away the money. So it is up to us citizens to find out what is there that we are already paying for. America is a wonderful country full of opportunities; we just have to start learning how to use the system.
Once you go through this process of finding the money you need, your life will change, because you will now know that you can live the rest of your life believing that the world is full of answers to anything, and you just have to put in some time to get them
You now have all the tools to do it. Thirty million Americans a year use these resources, and you can be among them no matter who you are.
Matthew LeskoPresidentInformation USA, Inc.www.lesko.com