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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
- psa: future posts on benefit programs in Texas (and other things)