Can I Get Medicare?

Can I Get Medicare?

” or “Can I get assistance for home care?

” The answer may well be yes.

I may think I'm doing a good deed by helping an elderly neighbor down the stairs, but I might be investigating a crime.

Not all health care providers are federal employees. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the principal agency of the U.S. government responsible for the health of all Americans. It oversees programs that provide Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance and health care benefits.

In addition, there are government-funded health care programs for children, pregnant women, Native Americans, and those in need of certain services, such as the poor, the disabled, and the homeless.

And it's not just the government that offers free or subsidized health care. Many hospitals have created community wellness centers that provide primary health care, screenings, and education to low-income families. And many charitable organizations, like the United Way, have community health care programs.

Social Security is a “safety net,” and no one requires a background check to get food stamps.

Social Security is the nation's largest federal program, guaranteeing income to those who are retired, disabled, or have dependents. It's also the nation's most visible. But it's just one of many programs.

When you say Social Security, many people think about retired people. But Social Security benefits also go to children and adults who are disabled. Other people also get a check from Social Security for being survivors of those who died while receiving Social Security. And more than a million children get Social Security checks each month on behalf of a disabled parent. About 10 million are financially dependent on a disabled adult.

The Social Security Administration runs a toll-free number, 1-877-690-1012, for people to get information about Social Security. But if you call this number, you may be giving information to the Social Security Administration about an elderly or disabled neighbor.

The same is true of the Department of Veterans Affairs website (www.va.gov). The site has a section for veterans, but it also has information for caregivers. And information for caregivers is also available on the website of the Administration for Community Living (www.acl.gov).

Many people who are poor or on public assistance are elderly or disabled.

If you're older or disabled, you're eligible for a wide array of programs, including the Supplemental Security Income program, which is run by the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov), and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both are available to help pay for housing and food.

Many people on public assistance are children. In 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) received $282 billion in spending because of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is the largest of the 15 federal nutrition assistance programs.

SNAP, however, also provides assistance to elderly people, and to childless adults. And the USDA administers other programs, like the National School Lunch Program, which provides free or reduced-price lunches to more than 30 million children daily.

SNAP can be accessed by telephone at 1-877-690-1012, or online at www.fns.usda.gov/snap.

Many people on food stamps don't work.

This is a misperception. According to the USDA, 62 percent of SNAP households include at least one person who worked in the past year.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org), “SNAP is one of the nation's most important work support and work incentive programs.”

The Center reported that “Single mothers are the largest group of SNAP recipients. The share of SNAP households with children headed by single mothers has increased from 44 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2016. The share of SNAP households with children headed by single fathers has remained relatively stable, at about 5 percent.”

Many SNAP recipients are working household heads. The Center reported that “The share of households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult who work while receiving SNAP has increased from 45 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2016.”

USDA's SNAP Hotline is 1-877-690-1012.

When I give food to the homeless, they will leave the streets.

Homelessness is a complex issue. There's no single cause, and there's no single solution. The Salvation Army, which has a long history of helping the homeless, offers some good advice for those who want to help (www.salvationarmyusa.org/homeless/help-homeless-advice).

The Salvation Army advises:

* Educate yourself on the causes of homelessness.

* Don't give cash to the homeless.

* Don't give food or clothing to the homeless.

* Provide access to support services and shelters.

* Provide an alternative to panhandling.

* Always keep your own safety and security in mind.

* Understand that some homeless people have mental illnesses.

It further advises: “When you see a homeless person asking for help, stop and remind yourself that you don't know their story. They may be suffering from a mental health disorder or addiction. Even if they're not, they may have been recently laid off and need a little help until they get back on their feet. They may be a good Samaritan who is trying to help someone else in the same situation. Whatever their story may be, it's not your job to play the role of a social worker or judge. Instead, lend a hand if you can and offer encouragement.”

If I give a homeless person food, he or she will leave the streets.

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