Autoimmune Disease Management 101: Fighting Back

Expect To Be Impoverished Or Disabled Your Whole Life? Programs That Can Help

Lifelong financial, physical, and/or psychological struggles make it impossible for many people to rise above their lots in life. If you know that you will be impoverished or disabled most of your life, there are many government programs that can help. The following are just a handful to get you started.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

Welfare reform created this program. It provides a little cash each week that you are actively looking for work and participating in a "return to work" program (i.e. you are "volunteering" your time in a local business to work certain tasks for the cash benefits you receive). The cash benefits are less than minimum wage in order to encourage you to take a minimum wage or better job. In some states you can only receive TANF for two years or less, hence the "temporary" status.


If you are receiving TANF or any other form of government benefits, you probably qualify for "food stamps". This is also a cash-type benefit loaded onto a debit card that you can use to buy food. There are several rules and restrictions you have to follow to get Foodshare, and it does not cover an entire month's worth of healthy food. It is only meant to supplement your current food budget, but every bit helps.

Long-Term Medicaid Services

Medicaid is a state-funded medical/health insurance program that covers almost all of your healthcare and medical expenses. You will still have small co-pays for medication and doctor's visits, but at least you can afford to see a doctor or dentist now. Long-term medicaid services are meant for individuals with a disability, and you do have to apply to receive this benefit.


SSDI is "Social Security Disability Income", a government benefit paid to those who have an established and accepted disability. It is very difficult to get SSDI, but if you have a qualifying disability you should apply. If you are approved for and receive SSDI, you may also qualify for and receive SSI, which is "Supplemental Security Income".

SSI is a cash benefit from your state's disability program and is awarded based on your lack of income or the amount of income your household receives from all sources. The SSI amount is not much, but each qualifying person in the household receives this amount, which can add up fairly quickly. Both of these benefits are direct-deposited onto a payment card or into your checking account.