The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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psa: future posts on benefit programs in Texas (and other things)
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Notes:

I forgot that I meant to do a PSA on entitlement programs and benefits at the state level every six months from now on, since this is relevant to pretty much everyone's interests when it comes to elderly/disabled family members and in this economic time, not a bad idea to know what can happen and what you have access to.

Trust me, if you are in Texas, this is potentially relevant to your interests, please read below the cut.



I'd like to be able to focus on what precisely people would like to know so I can research it before posting, so if you have any questions that you'd like overviewed or covered about Medicaid, programs for nursing home care, Food Stamps, TANF, SNAP-CAP, or any state-level entitlement programs, please IM me, email at seperis@gmail.com, or hit comment here so I can remember to cover it.

Most of my information is specific to Texas, as that's what I know, what I trained for, and what I work daily with, but I can track down out of state resources if HHSC has a relationship with them. I probably can't answer specific questions on whether someone is eligible, or if I can I couldn't do it officially, but I can direct you where to go to find out. I'll also answer directly if it's something I don't know enough about to cover with any degree of accuracy and will try to find exactly where that topic is covered.

The post will cover all state level entitlement programs that are available to Texans as administered by HHSC that I know enough to give a full explanation. It will not cover ones I don't know about--and there are a lot of those--but I can look if there's something you've heard about that you want to get more information on but haven't been able to google, since um, state websites are freaking pre Web 2.0 half the time and not great for finding specific information sometimes.

There are no stupid questions. To become a caseworker, I had to do a three month intensive course, eight hours a day, five days a week just to get an overview of policy on Food Stamps, TANF, and Medicaid, and I was a benefits clerk in the local office first so I was already familiar with it. A Medicaid Eligibility Specialist, who works with elderly and disabled medicaid/recipients, has to do a different three month intensive course. I was and am fully trained by the state to determine benefits for Food Stamps, TANF, and Medicaid, even though at this point, I'm a tester for the programs that caseworkers use to decide eligibility. Under normal circumstances, there is no possible way most people who aren't second generation caseworkers (which I am) or in the field could know most of this. There are literally no stupid questions.

I cannot determine benefits, but I can explain how benefits are determined, and I can give an overview of how an interview will work, what's expected of you, and what you can expect and demand of anyone who interviews you. I can explain your rights as an applicant and what and what isn't within policy. I can explain who to contact if your rights are violated and where to go for assistance. I can explain appeal and hearing policy, but only in a limited extent since I'm not a hearing officer.



If you feel this is embarrassing or think anyone will think less of you, before I was a caseworker, before I was a tester, I was a twenty-one year old single parent who was on Medicaid, Food Stamps, and TANF for the first six years of my son's life. I am the daughter of a caserworker who was also a casereader for policy errors, a policy specialist, and one of the architects of the current program that determines benefits. Bootstraps are a myth, shame belongs to those without compassion, and there is nothing wrong with using the programs that in fact my tax dollars are joyfully helping to fund. Whoever said otherwise, anywhere, can fuck themselves. This is what I am and what I do, and it is a privilege to get people to the help they need, and it's your right to have access to these programs that you are entitled to. Don't let anyone, anywhere, tell you anything different.

You rock so much for doing this.

*crosses fingers* Something need to counteract welfare wank with actual facts. If I can get the minimum actual information across, God, life will be so much better.

Bless you, srsly. Tax funded programs like this *are* bootstraps. They are the bootstraps that every citizen of this nation is entitled to. Every time I hear some self righteous conservative douchebag knocking government programs, I think of this exact clip right here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTwpBLzxe4U




EXACTLY. How people do not get this blows my freaking mind.

I'm not even from the same continent, but it's really good to see you posting this - both the attitude and the info, which I'm sure will be helpful to someone out there.

I'm not in the same state, but thanks for posting this. I'm of the same attitude and i'm on the other end of things. I'm a pharm tech processing the benefits given to many people, and majority of them actually DO need these programs. I hate it when i see someone come in and they don't have access to these because they 'earn too much' and all the other hoops they make people jump to get into this. I'm trying to get my mom into the state disability and its moving like a glacier. She's visibly disabled at this point and it's STILL taking too long. Since Dad died its been a hard slog this last year, for all of us.

My brother's on unemployment, i'm working (but my car just got repossessed YAY). Except i'm 200 miles from home and not exactly in the right area to help out except for at a distance. What little i can do, considering i'm only available for a few things myself and very little of them in the first place in my own case. I'm glad they have those programs at the least, i just wish the hoops needed to get them weren't so hostile. My own needs can wait, mostly i want them taken care of before i do more for myself outside of my own needs. (yes i'm mid crisis, but i'm also with friends locally, which helps)

Anyone who says we aren't entitled to those programs? Is insane. The 'common good' is hardly thought of here except in terms of being a 'patriot', and then its used to do more damage to the public instead. I work for the common good of my particular community, i want the same for everyone else that i do because i actually LIKE it. The pay is crap, especially considering what i handle and information i process on a daily basis. I don't do it solely for pay in the end. Not my idea of a dream career--but it's one i can see myself doing in the future. In the end i'd rather aid the public with taxes instead of power a war machine. We really need to rediscover the idea of 'The Commons' in this country.

ummm. Sorry for ranting ^_^;; This struck a chord with me, for obvious reasons.

Edited at 2010-02-27 06:09 am (UTC)

There are many reasons I love you, but stuff like this is one of them.

I'm spending the weekend getting my compy re-gussied up, new battery, new powercord, new terabyte hardrive to back eeeeverything up. It makes me think of you, being all organize-y.

Thank you for doing this. Thank you very, very much. It really makes me mad when people don't understand that this help doesn't mean that you are being a leech in the system and that you are just leaving off the government aid. There are people that just want to generalize the use of state aid as something deadbeats do and it is not fair or right to the people that need this help. If you need the help get it, that is the reason the darn things are there for, they are paid by us. By the people for the people, for the love of everything.

This is awesome.

I hit the point this year where I was paying five figures in federal taxes and I noticed it. Over $10,000. And I was HAPPY about it. Because it meant that I was doing well, and was finally able to pay for some of the services I like so much.

Like public education, roads, healthcare, everything.

And it reminded me that I need to be spending a lot more time and money than I am to ensure that we have the national healthcare we deserve.

I was raised by a social worker who moved into public health. And the limitations we place on aid and health care are obsecene.

Hi Sweetie,

This doesn't apply to me [I'm in Canada] but I wanted to drop you a note and say how pleased I am that you take the time to share like this - it's this sort of thing, this purposeful building of community, that I appreciate about having you on my f-list.


I'm looking at going to grad school next year and living pretty much entirely off of loans. Is it possible I might qualify for HUD or any other program that might help me manage expenses? I know it's a long shot, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

HUD is based on income and has some restrictions, but being a student isn't one of them (AFAIK). Google HUD and the city you live in and pull up the site. There will be a list of eligibility restrictions and requirements. There might be a family requirement, as in having a kid, but everywhere I've googled so far doesn't show that when you're no longer considered a dependent of your parents. There is a job requirement, however, so you might need to verify exactly what they are. Federal law is interpreted by state, so teh state can and does have variations on it occasionally, and cities can add or subtract requirements as well.

Thanks, that's really helpful. I did have two other quick questions, 1) what are the requirements for food stamps? 2) do you have any suggestions about health insurance? Several years ago I was exposed to an antibiotic resistant staph infection, now any cut has the potential to land me in the hospital - something I really can't afford to pay on my own, and insurance tends to be ridiculously expensive.

That varies by state interpretation of policy, and what's called policy clearances, where a policy specialist will read the horror that is Federal food stamp policy and try to figure out what it applies to in questionable situations. Email or IM me your zip code and state and I can read the handbook for that state to see what the requirements are. Or just your state, actually, the zip is only if you want to know what office to apply to.

In general--if you are in higher education, you need to be working at least 20 hours a week in some way, even work study, but it's more encompassing than that and has a lot of stuff that falls under employment and work study. When I know your state, I can read their policy and see what's what.

Insurance--the US sucks for this. For some states, they have womens' health programs, like Texas does, that covers reproductive assistance. There are also city, county/parish, and state level programs, but your best best is to google your city and see if they have a clinic system. Houston has one and some other places, where you can apply at the clinics depending on income and get sliding scale payment options at a variety of loosely affiliated clinics. You can also check at specific clincs and hospitals for options, since a lot have programs for those without insurance.

Thanks so much, I'll pm you for more info.

Totally doesn't apply to me what with different country but jsut saying, that last paragraph of yours = you are awesome with cherries and sprinkles and more awesome on top.

i'm going to ask you, bc even tho i'm in a different state it's a pretty general question and i couldn't find it on missouri's website or through google-fu;

is one required to qualify medically & whatnot for ssi/disability benefits before they'd be considered disabled as a qualifier for food stamps, if that even is a qualifier?

if you can answer, awesome, if not ty anyways bb ♥

Food Stamps and medicaid/SSI are completely separate programs. Food Stamps is almost entirely income related, so you dont have to be on SSI/RSDI or be considered disabled to get it.

Here we go: http://www.dss.mo.gov/fsd/iman/fstamps/fstoc.html

Here's the handbook. Before you start doubting your ability to read, yes, it's hard to read and weird and not intuitive.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=618

Hit Find on your browser and enter "Missouri" and there's a list of online stuff about the programs.

Hope that helps!

i feel utterly stupid for not having found either of those websites on my own despite googling D: apparently the myopia decided to magnify tonight. ty tho bb, will search each :****

No, not stupid, trust me on this one; it helps to know exactly what you're looking for looks like and what terms to use. And tha tsecond one was new to me; I just bookmarked it for hte PSA post later so anyone in teh country can find the right department.

I used this site when I was trying to figure out benefit programs. https://www.benefitscheckup.org/index.cfm?gohome=true&partner_id=0

There's a questionaire from the National Council on Aging. They help figure out what programs you (probably) qualify for. It applies to people on Social Security Disability too. I'm not sure about others.

You can potentially be referred to several different programs. Have a pad and pen handy for notes. In my state one goes to three separate offices to apply for Social Security, Food Stamps (or whatever it's called now), and Low Income Energy Assistance. It can get confusing; but last winter it made the difference between me having heat or not.

Thank you for the link!

Hi, I friended you because of this. Well, this and "This is Not a Statement," but still. I'm in Texas, too, (Hi there! We're in the same state!) and there is just waaaaay too much of the bootstrap talk around here. *sigh* Way to work against the wank, seperis.

The thing I'm most glad you posted out of all of this is the last paragraph. I don't think it matters what state you live in, or even if you live in the United States - the message that claiming benefits shouldn't be a source of shame or something you're embarrassed about is useful everywhere. There is no shame in asking for help from a system that taxes go into for just that reason - to help those in need when they can't work or can't earn enough to support themselves.