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The federal government administers security programs, also known as welfare programs, to help low-income people and protect families from poverty. These programs offer help from the government, including subsidies from the Affordable Care Act. For more information on all the benefit programs available to low-income families, here's a list of 10 government programs for families.

Major Government Benefit Programs

The federal government provides the funds for welfare programs, while the states handle and administer additional funds. Beneficiaries must show that their income is below a fixed amount, it is a percentage of the federal poverty level. Currently, that's $24,858 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children).

There are six main benefit programs in the US. They are Food Stamps, Medicaid, CHIP, Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.


1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP)

SNAP or Food Stamps provides eligible individuals with a benefit card, which is used like a debit card, to purchase food at designated grocery stores and farmers markets. The SNAP program provides food stamps to 47.6 million people or 23 million households. They receive $133 a month on average.

In addition to SNAP, there is a food stamp program for nursing mothers and young children called the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC provides food or coupons, education and referrals to help feed pregnant women and children up to age six. In 2017, 7.7 million people received WIC each month.

For school-age children, there is the Child Nutrition Program, which provides free or reduced-price lunches to 30 million children.

Health care

2. Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Through the Affordable Care Act, millions of people have gained access to health coverage through Medicaid and the Marketplace. Before the ACA, most states did not provide health coverage to adults without children, no matter how low their income. The ACA also allows children to remain on their parents' plan until age 26, providing access to more young adults who may not have been able to pay for coverage on their own.

To make health coverage more affordable, the ACA includes two different subsidies for individuals and families. It also requires most health plans to cover preventive immunizations, birth control, blood pressure tests, cancer screenings, and more, at no additional cost. An essential part of the ACA is that it protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance. Before the ACA, insurance companies could deny anyone health due to pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cancer.

To find out if you're eligible to enroll outside of the annual Open Enrollment period, you can use HealthSherpa's screening tool.