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Dear Mr. C.:
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...
Uncle 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
Even 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
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 my 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 CareDon'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 below 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 get a free credit report. Contact the FCC at 877-FTC-HELP; www.ftc.gov
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
Free Crisis Nursery, up to 73 hours of overnight care and 10 days day careCAP 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
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; www.communityactionpartnership.com; Email: email@example.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 if 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