How To Apply for Public Assistance

If you're in need of some help for your housing, cash or food situation, public assistance might be able to help.  Run by the county in which you live, the amount of help you're able to receive varies from state to state, but it's still a government program designed to help those in need.

To apply for public assistance, you'll need to stop by your local Social Services office.  Some states call it the Department of Human Services (DHS) or (DSHS), but they all provide essentially the same services.  If you're unsure where the nearest office is, check the government pages in the front page of your phone book.  They will also be listed in the white pages as "(your county) Social Services", or something quite similar.  If you're still having a hard time, try calling directory assistance and asking for Social Services; they can provide both a phone number and address.

Once you've located the office, inform the worker at the front desk that you would like to apply for services, and what type, i.e. food, cash, housing, etc. - most offices use the same form for all services they provide.  You'll need the social security numbers for everyone applying, as well as birth dates, full names and addresses, and work information, if there is any.  Bring all of this information to the office with you along with your identification, to ensure you can fill out the form without having to stop and come back another time.  After filling it out and double checking that all of the information is correct, turn it back in to the front desk.  You will then be set up for an interview with a social worker who will review your information and determine what services you can be provided, and how much.  In times of dire need, emergency services might be issued, if so required.

After the interview with the social worker, you might be issued an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, should you be receiving cash or food support.  From then on, social services can also help you find a job, affordable housing, and any other services that you might be in need of beyond the basic monetary support.  Public assistance is in place to help those in their times of need, but most states cap the amount of time you can receive in your lifetime before losing eligibility.  If would like to become more informed on the subject by learning about state and national laws governing public assistance, you can take one or more human services courses online. 


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