Financial Assistance Options for the Unemployed

Unemployment can put many people in a tough financial position. Although it is recommended to have a savings with enough money to live on for six to 12 months, many people do not have the resources to save that much and, even if they did, they may not find a new job within that time. Therefore, the unemployed often have to seek other financial assistance in order to pay their bills.

Financial assistance options for the unemployed include unemployment benefits, food stamps, Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income payments, energy assistance and Medicaid. There are also organizations like the Salvation Army and local churches that may also be able to provide financial assistance.

Unemployment Benefits

This is usually the first place that the unemployed should look for financial assistance. There are qualifications and not everyone who is unemployed is eligible to receive unemployment benefits. For example, if all of a company’s “employees” are really classified as independent contractors, then they may be required to pay unemployment insurance taxes.

Food Stamps

Food assistance, also known as SNAP in some areas, is open to everyone who meets the eligibility requirements. The only real requirement for this program is that you fall below the income limits for your household size. They do count all forms of income, including unearned income, and you won't receive much if you are close to the income cut-off limits.

Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income

If you are unemployed due to disability, then you may be able to receive either Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on your previous work history and your personal income, while SSI is based on your household income. Both require a qualifying disability.

Energy Assistance

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides qualified recipients with a maximum $300 in energy assistance per year. Funds are limited and applications are accepted annually between November and March. The money will be sent directly to the utility company of the recipient's choosing.


Medicaid is a health insurance program for low income individuals. The eligibility rules vary by state. In some states anyone with a low income can qualify and in others only children, pregnant women and the disabled can qualify. Those with a very low income will receive services completely free, while others may be required to pay a co-pay and small monthly premiums.

[Go Back]    [^ Back to Top]