What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Applying for Assistance Such as TANF or Snap?

Updated on March 07, 2014
D.N. asks from Chicago, IL
21 answers

I was looking online today and I am really blown away by some things posted in comments to other peoples questions on Yahoo or other sites. The questions were in regards to applying for SNAP or TANF assistance programs. Some even had them for WIC. There were helpful answers but some people were really mean. By mean I mean refrring to the person as lazy and a couple told the question asker that they should not even have internet since they cannot afford it. In some cases it said the provider of the household was lazy and should get a job. Most of the "mean" commetns pretty much told the people that the commenter should not have to support them. I am just curious what others think.

A few of the askers did mention that they lost jobs and had no income due to loss of benefits etc. Does this change what you think??

For some reason I could not type into What Happened. Very few of the comments even mentioned a portion of what I saw online. I don't know if that has to do with us being moms or what. Anyway, I thought I would add something. One of the problems finding a job is that I am considered overqualified. A former neighbor is a manager at a McDonalds. She was over visiting someone the other day She told me that she would not hire me because she knows that I would still look for a better job and could quit 2 weeks or 2 months after starting. Why train me to work there when I will leave? They would rather hire a teen or mom that just wants a few hours while kids are in school. A friends cousin works at Target as a manager. Same thing there. That of course would explain why I never heard anything from them since I applied over a month ago. And a cell phone is needed in this day. You cannot get a pay phone anymore. My sons have medical conditions and I must be reachable at any time.

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So What Happened?

I knew if I asked here I would get all ideas about this, which is why I did. When I saw some of the comments in my researching, I was looking for DHS info for Illinois. My family is on the state Family Care program which is a Medicaid plan. My sons have medical conditions and no way could I get their meds without insurance. I lost my job last August and we do have some money left. Hopefully I will get a job soon--though I have been saying that for a few months now. We just got on the snap program but I am a bit embarrassed about it because I am used to supporting us with a job.

Some of the questions I saw were stating that they lost their job and have not gotten a new one yet. One even had a commenter say that she should tell her sponsor to support her like he should or go back to her country. No where did she say she was not a US citizen.
I totally agree that there are abusers. And I agree that internet has become more an essential thing to have now, unlike cable etc. If I did not have internet, I would not be able to search for a job like I do. The library limits time to 1 hour at a time, though you can go in the morning and again in the afternoon. I spend about 3 to 4 hours per day. I cannot imagine not having it. My problem is that I am overqualified for some jobs. I am sure there are many others out there as well. My husband's issue is that he had back surgery and has limits. For what he has done in the past, he cannot do that work due to limitations and does not have any training to do an office job. When I was working it worked out best that he was home. Things change.

I do wonder though about comments I have also seen--one here--regarding unemployment. In my state--in most states--the employer pays the unemployment insurance, not the employee. I believe a few states make the employee. So how is that a tax payer issue??

Featured Answers



answers from Anchorage on

If you need them then apply, that is what they are for. If people want to rank about others needing help then they need to do something to really help fix the issue, like supporting a livable minimum wage.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I think if you need assistance and you qualify then by all means apply for the assistance. I think I read somewhere that most people who get snap are working or are children.

I wanted to edit my answer to say that I do become a bit, exasperated, shall we say, when people seem to be making what I consider to be poor choices about their situation because they intend to rely on government assistance. For example, I have a friend who has a husband who wants at least 6 children. He thinks this is doable because he knows he will get formula via WIC and SNAP benefits and medicaid...so why not have a few more kids. I wouldn't do it and I think he is making a poor choice but who am I to tell people how many children they should have. And once the children are here, I don't see the point of having them go hungry just because their parents are fools.

8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Oklahoma City on

We have been so brainwashed in our times to belittle those needing assistance. But if we look at how it's supposed to be then perhaps we'll have a softer heart.

I think back on my Sunday school lessons as a child. We were taught that everything we have is a blessing and that it's given to us so we can have enough and enough to share with those who need blessings.

There are many many many verses in various books of scripture that specifically address how we're supposed to treat others and how we're supposed to give to those that have a need.

I am sick to death of the word "entitlements". It's a bad bad bad word. It designates that person using them as a leach, a loser that should just die off so other won't be supporting them, and worse. That is such a wrong wrong wrong attitude. We should try to have empathy and try to put ourselves in their situation.

I know that I've had to use programs before. We are using some right now. We are grandparents raising grandchildren and the kids get Sooner Care. That's a state medical card. They get free lunches because our income is so low they qualify. We live on my husbands SSDI. He had a heart attack several years ago and hasn't worked since. He gets a little over $1500 per month. That's not much for a family of 4.

We do get child support but it's so messed up right now I don't depend on it. They are paying, it's taken out of their checks before they get paid so I know it's paid. But the state is messing up with the deposits. So when it comes in I am surprised and it's a little extra blessing.

When I was in college I was on state assistance, I got AFDC, food stamps, medical cards for myself and my daughter, and more. I also got full financial aid. I lived in married student housing and got a reduced rent through the low income housing program. I went to school full time and made good grades, That was what was important to me.

I figured up my income for one year and it shocked me. I added my rent assistance amount, food stamps, child care assistance, and all the financial aid I got. It was well over $25K that year. I had no idea. Minimum wage was something like $3.95 per hour I think.

In these days I think we've taken a lot of wrong paths in state assistance. We have gone to such awful extremes and they're not working, they are costing us more money.

For instance, drug testing to apply for assistance. What I've read has stated that less than half of a percent tested positive for drugs that were not prescribed. Less than half of a percent. They set up this program wrong.

It's totally unfair to the people who are applying.

If YOU were at work and someone came up to you and said "Your name was drawn for a random drug test. You need to pay me $50 right now or you are suspended from work until you pay that amount". You'd be pissed wouldn't you? You'd think that it was unfair you have to pay upfront for a urine test when you've done nothing wrong.

So that's what's wrong with the drug testing. People who are employed don't have to pay for their own tests, they are covered by the employer not the employee. So making a person who is broke and having to apply for benefits doesn't have any money. So they have to go do something to make some money to pay for the test then when they pass they get reimbursed. So the state is having to pay 99.5% of the drug tests back. Plus they have to pay someone to stand in the bathroom and administer the test and then they have to pay the lab to process the urine....

Do you see how expensive they made this program? Suddenly their budget for assistance has doubled instead of their assumption that those who need help are drug addicts and dealers. It's a no win for the state.

Every state that assumed they'd save so much money by weeding out the drug addicts is finding out they're having to scramble for funding to pay the extra costs. It's not a good program and it's not working the way they assumed.

It's thrown the programs into the limelight and it's not showing a good picture.

People who have lost everything or are trying to hold on to even part of their life are being treated like lepers and abusers when in fact they are the ones who've tried the hardest to find work and to not have to get on the programs.

I think anyone who can qualify for any assistance should apply. The programs are there to help ease the suffering and stress that poverty brings to families and sometimes even whole groups of people.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

The programs are there to be used by people who need a temporary helping hand. I'm lucky that when in a financial bind in the past (when I became a single mother at age 22 and my son's father moved out of state to avoid helping out), my family was in a position to let me move in with them and help provide some child care. If I had had to pay both rent and child care, even with my college degree and the decent job that I had there was no way to make ends meet. I actually made too much to qualify for child care assistance if I had needed to put my son in day care full time. So for me to have qualified for any assistance, I would had have to quit my job, declare bankruptcy because I wasn't in a position to pay my student loans, car loan or credit cards, and sell my reliable car because it was worth too much money. Basically putting myself in a dead-end position. I was lucky to have family help me out. Not everyone has that option, so I can understand first hand the desperation that drives folks to reach out for help and the catch-22 that the assistance creates that keeps people in that position.

Where I have an issue is with fraud and with people who keep having babies while on public assistance. This isn't China or a Dickens novel, so obviously I don't think it's OK to force people to have a limited number of children or cut people off and let the babies suffer, so I don't have a solution, but it makes me really, really angry when people don't take responsibility for themselves after they've gotten that helping hand.

My step-daughter's mother was on welfare when she lived with her kids (she gave up custody of my SD and her two other sons - different father - 3 years ago) and apparently had no intention of ever giving up her benefits. Her other kids' father lived with her, which she lied about, and she still got subsidized housing, a clothing allowance, a SNAP card, free breakfast and lunch at school for her kids (which at many schools means that the PTA pays for field trips and other activities), never worked a real job, and collected child support from my husband, plus we paid for clothes, school supplies, health insurance, etc. We didn't find out about all the benefits she was collecting until my SD moved in with us but people like her give the whole system a bad name.

So overall, I'm glad there's a safety net. I wouldn't want to live in a society where the poor have no resources. However, the waste and fraud in the system are frustrating. There really is no easy answer.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I think they are fantastic programs, there to help those that need help.
Sure there are a small few "bad seeds" but the vast majority of people using the programs need the help. No one wants to be in that position. I know people that have needed the assistance all of these programs provide. They did what they could to get themselves on their own two feet. But in today's world that is increasingly hard to do. Wages are stagnant, if not going down, while every single other necessity of life keeps going up by leaps and bounds.
Until you have been unemployed you have no idea how insane it all is. We've been there. It sucked! 2 years later we are still struggling to dig out from under it. Minimum wage doesn't support a family, it barely helps a single person living at home or with a house full of roommates all living off of Top Ramon because that's all they can afford.
People have lost grasp of the reality of the world we are living in. Too many people are now spouting out the "I got mine screw the rest of you". I'm sorry but "If you work hard enough you won't be in this position" is BS! People ARE working hard, 2 jobs, killing themselves. And they still can't get by. The job my husband took after 7 months was a pretty big pay cut, and a demotion. Yet he's putting in more hours now then he ever had in his life at a job. But because he's salary there isn't any extra money to compensate. We're sinking, yet we make a good wage all things considered. I can't imagine the struggle others making less than us are going through.
To all those spewing hate at someone trying to get help that they need. Try to live their life. Try to support your family on minimum wage where rents are higher then your mortgage payments but yet you can't qualify for a mortgage to get yourself out from under and have something to call your own. Have your hours continually cut so you can't depend on any certain amount each week to know if you can buy food for your children.
I'm so sick of it all!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Some people through no fault of their own need assistance temporarily.
And some people are lazy, or looking to milk the system.
It's hard to know one from another but I try not to make assumptions.
I get mad at the cheats because they take away valuable resources away from the people who really need it.

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answers from Sacramento on

It's just the same meanness that went on during the Reagan years, too. The "you're poor and it's your fault" mindset that led to cutbacks in safety-net programs then. It's nothing new.

I think these programs are vital when people need them. We took my husband's unemployment benefits when we needed them years ago and I don't feel bad about it. Most of us go through rough patches in life at some point and it's crazy for anyone to judge.

As far as Internet, that's a basic today, especially if you're job searching. People need to be able to look for work, and email is essential for job hunting and school contact these days. It's not as frivolous as it might have been 10 years ago.

Can you imagine the progress that would be made if people stopped judging poor people and worked together to lift them up instead?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I have a very split opinion here. I worked at a community agency and saw first hand the people who took advantage of the system and had no intention of getting off assistance. We handed out food stamp cards to folks, as well as a bus pass. I can't tell you how many people said something like "I hate taking the bus, isn't there a service that picks people up to go to the store?" Nothing was good enough, and they were mad that the government wasn't doing more to help them. Rarely did I hear "what kind of job training is available for me?" "is there any kind of help to complete my education?" Anything that resembled personal responsibility- didn't exist. It was infuriating. And the current climate in this country caters to welfare as a career option.

However, I am glad that help is available for those who need it as help during an unpredictable or unexpected time to bridge the gap until things get better. You seem like one the people I am glad it is there for. You have worked, and are trying to work again. You are not thinking that TANF is your new job, you are needing it to help you get by while YOU take the responsibility for YOU and YOUR family. I think it's the responsible thing for you to do at this time. Because you are not looking at this as the end of your job search, but the bridge to something else. If that is indeed the case, you should proud of yourself for taking care of your family.

I know that general comments on the subject often turn mean, and I guess I understand why. People aren't picturing you and your situation, they are picturing the people I worked with who were annoyed that we dare ask them to take the bus (and pay for it!). Try not to take it personally. And good luck going forward, I hope something comes through for you!

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answers from Santa Barbara on

To be honest that does not sound too mean.

Unfortunately we are being taught to hate the people on assisted living. We are always being shown examples of them cheating the system. For example, women collecting welfare, yet winning million dollar lottery or a fireman who get hundreds of thousands while on disability yet out water skiing.

We need to really look at the man on the top giving workers peanuts compared to how it used to be a few decades ago. A business owner used to be rich, yet nothing like the extremes of today. Wall Street has some workers who create ponzi schemes, yet find loop holes and are rewards with hundreds of millions.

I know some conservative types who preach the old pull yourself up by your boot straps, yet forget their down syndrome child is benefiting from the aid the government is handing out. They feel their case is different because XYZ. So yes, there are people working the system and there are people who have earned the right to the benefits.

Many workers (think military) have been paying into the system and when they were hired they agreed to give a certain numbers of years and potentially risk their lives for a payment. Now that they did their time (retired military) Paul Ryan has the nerve to say they are taking the tax payers money and do not deserve it. Okay Paul, give pay all the tax payers money you have taken...Your pay check, a-hole.

This is the reason for the whole 99% movement. It is funny/sad to see my fb friends rip on this group and then when their benefits (mainly military) are in question, they scream about the injustice.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

If you really need it, then apply for it. But understand that it is meant to be a temporary form of assistance, not a permanent means of support.
And if I had to choose between food and internet, internet would have to go. I can use it at the library for free.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

If you need it apply for it. If you have lost your job and your benefits have expired, apply for it.

What many people are opposed to are the people who could work (in the past) and didn't want to. All those people did was have babies so that they could get more money. Well people, those times have changed.

Keep your dignity, apply and make it better for you and yours. I have no reason to look down my nose at you.

the other S.

PS My husband did his 20 some years and yes, it hurts to know that the new generation of senators would think the way Ryan does. Let him be the first person out there on the front line to defend our liberties and then I will listen to what he has to say. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut. I will get off my soapbox now.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

I don't want it to bother me, but if I'm honest with myself, it does. I don't really like that about myself, and I try to stop those kinds of mean thoughts, but I'm not generally successful. I at least try to keep the comments to myself & just seethe inwardly.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My feeling about assistance is please get the help if you need it. Those programs exist for a reason. I am never going to advocate doing away with benefits because of bad apples. How in good faith as a human being can I deny the deserving and needy because of the greedy few? I might as well kick a man while he's down.

In regards to the comments you saw, people can be cruel and quick to judge, leaping to conclusions in a fashion which should break at least one leg. Shame on the judgers not on the judged. It is easy to forget the realities of walking in another's shoes. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know about people's private lives AND private struggles. What I do know is I don't want people going hungry or doing without basic medical and dental care.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The programs are set up for those who need them when they find themselves in a situation requiring HELP and ASSISTANCE.

The circumstances of an individual or family can change in a heartbeat and studies show that the majority of families are 2 pay checks away from homelessness. Then a large bill, medical expenses, job loss, disability, etc. happens and it doesn't take long to get behind enough on rent or mortgage that (without securing similar income quickly) they cans dig out of.

ANYONE'S circumstances can change due to unforeseen events, etc.
It's a pretty short fall from the high horse to the ground in most cases.

If someone needs help and they meet the requirements, they should apply.
It's proven that long term, chronic fraud is not as common as some would like to think.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm so glad we live in a country that doesn't (as yet anyway) just leave families and children and single moms and disabled vets to starve and die. i'm so grateful for safety nets. we're doing fine, and i'm happy to have my tax money help out those who need a hand.
like many conservatives i DO nut up when i hear about the abuses and the leeches. every time a social program tries to make life better for those in crisis, criminals figure out ways to scam the system. but unlike many conservatives, i want to combat it by punishing the abusers when caught, and work on streamlining and tightening up the nets rather than just casting them aside. the government is nightmarishly inefficient. it's a real problem.
but less of a problem than we see in countries where the poor are utterly disregarded.
the media (which is every bit as slanted on the right as the left) creates the problem when the abusers are highlighted, and then touted as typical. reagan's fictional 'welfare queen' caused hundreds of thousands of desperately struggling women to be wrongly and pejoratively typecast.
the system has huge issues and we have to keep working to correct it and, of course, to get the economy moving again so people have more opportunities (which we could do fairly easily with tax hikes on the wealthy and spending cuts in a slew of pork projects, and obsolete military programs). but just letting the already drowning sink below the waves should never be an option in a country this rich.

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answers from New York on

If you qualify for temporary assistance, that's what those programs are there for. My sister has a friend who is a caseworker for one of these programs, and says that the applicants of today are of a very different type than 20 years ago. She sees degreed professionals, who are simply out of work and out of luck.

When my husband was out of work for almost 2 1/2 years, we qualified for things like free school meals, food assistance, fee waivers for our daughter's ACT, SAT and college applications.

I hear people talk about the people who receive these types of benefits and judge them for the things that they have, and that if you really needed food assistance, you couldn't afford a designer handbag, a manicure, an Iphone. Well, there are people who are still carrying around the designer handbag that they got as a bday gift from MIL or bought before being downsized from her $60,000 a year job. I received a gift certificate from one of my classes (I'm a teaching assistant, lower salary job) and was sporting a couple of manicures while paying with food assistance. With a kid in college, I don't feel that a cell phone is a luxury - and when our plan renewed, the iphone 4 was the standard upgrade. Cost $30. If we wanted a lower grade of phone, it would have cost $80. So you never know people's circumstances. The woman who pays for her food with her benefits card and drives away in a Lexus may have borrowed her mom and dad's car to go shopping, because this person who may be unemployed or have an unemployed spouse gave up their second car or can't afford repairs. I don't judge anyone anymore. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.

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answers from Chicago on

I feel people live outside their means. If you make $20,000 a year, why should you have cell phones? To me, cell phones are luxury and a home phone should be adequate. When my husband lost his job, he couldn't collect unemployment, but Obama gives out free money to people who shouldn't have kids in the first place. When we lost income, I didn't have cable, only had a home phone, and my kids couldn't play some sports one year. If I have to cut back until my husband found a job, which he did 3 months later, why do people feel entitled to have things they cannot afford? Doesn't seem fair, and my husband and I struggled for a while. We managed to get back on our feet without help. I feel people don't even look, take a job that at least pays something until something better comes along. Why are people so stubborn not to work at McDonald's until they have a job they want? That's what makes me angry.

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answers from New York on

If you need them, apply. However, keep in mind the sole purpose is to get you through some temporary rough times.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm fine with it if people planned in a realistic manner but something tragic happened or a seemingly secure job was lost and despite having a good sized savings account in a prudent manner, the money has run out bc it's just that hard to find a job. No problem with that. I get angry at outright abuses of the system or poor planning though. ie: for the latter, not a great career to begin with but went ahead and had 5 kids and oh - the first two were special needs. But "needed" to keep having more and oh well, now society has to pay for them! Stuff like that gets me mad.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I haven't read the other comments but I think if people are working and still can't make ends meet then they should apply for assistance.

My friend's husband served in the military for 6 years. When he got out he got a job that paid decent money but didn't offer insurance. My friend got a job which didn't offer insurance either but they had to pay so much in daycare for 3 kids that it took all of her check so they decided she should stay home. One of their kids got sick and they didn't have insurance to cover. I told her to put the kids on medicaid since she and her husband paid into it. He served his country so I felt it was ok. They wouldn't put them on medicaid and had a huge hospital bill. Thankfully her husband found a job that offered insurance a year later.

My feeling is if your work and can't make ends meet then get help. Part of their check is going to pay for alot of the programs anyway.

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answers from Boston on

there for the grace of God.....

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