Government benefits you might not know about – and be entitled to

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Tax filing – Earn under $54,000 or are disabled? Get help filing taxes from the IRS. If you are 60 or older, you can use the TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) program, another IRS initiative. This program offers free assistance for those nearing retirement who have questions about their pensions, retirement, income, and taxes. Visit the IRS website here for more information.

Expensive kids? – The federal government has a program to help employed people who need assistance with childcare costs.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a Child Care and Development Fund, which has state- and territory-specific allocations to assist with care expenses for children under 13. Visit the CCDF’s web page here. In addition, if you have a problem affording healthcare for your children, and meet certain low-income requirements, you may be eligible for free or reduced coverage through InsureKidsNow.gov.This is a dozy. Turns out many jurisdictions are trying to make home ownership easier by helping with a down payment. Each state has its own funded down payment programs with unique requirements and benefits. To see the state-sponsored programs in your area, visit the FHA’s down payment grant page and search your state.

Mortgage refunds – If you have ever had an FHA-insured mortgage search the HUD database to see if you’re eligible for a refund. Have your FHA case number handy, although you can just use your last name.

Futility of utility? – Utility bills are always high – either it’s for cooling in the summer or heating in the winter. Unless you live in San Diego you’re going to be screwed on utility bills at some point. If you need assistance and qualify, go to the government’s LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) which provides funds to those in need across the nation. All states are managed through state programs (funded by the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Check out what’s available to you at the LIHEAP website here. And if you need to winterize your home why not try for a U.S. Department of Energy grant?The Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center (WAPTAC). If you have children, a family member in the home with a disability, or are over age 60, you’ll get preference for approval.

Foreclosure –  If you are at risk of foreclosure, there is a program to help. HOPE (Home Ownership Preservation Foundation), this program offers assistance designed to allow you to stay in your home. They also offer advice if you’ve been the victim of a mortgage scam or if you are interested in a mortgage modification. Call their hotline at 888-995-HOPE or visit 995hope.org to learn more to see how this foundation can help you for free.

Hungry – Low-income people in need can access programs including WIC (for women, infants, and children), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), programs for seniors, and various food distribution options from the Feds. Check out this page: Nutrition.gov page.

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Missing money – unclaimed.org was created by the National Association of State Treasurers to help us find accounts we might’ve forgotten about or not been aware existed. The search includes insurance reimbursements, apartment deposits, forgotten savings bonds, old utility payment overages or deposits, or paychecks you never cashed. If you ever left a company due to acquisition, merger, or layoffs, you may have missed some owning pension amounts. Visit pbgc.gov to check your name and information against their database.