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10 Steps for Applying for Single Mother Assistance with Dignity

Updated on December 28, 2010

The reasons why you became a single mother don’t matter but if your financial situation doesn’t allow you to support properly your children and yourself, you should submit an application for financial aid.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is your best option for applying for financial assistance. You will find telephone numbers and addresses of local DSS offices at the first pages of the phone catalog or under the governmental section, here you can find them online at the Social Security Office Locator.

As it is not going to be an easy task, get familiar with these 10 steps in order to put all the odds in your favor and receive benefits.

1. Despite of what your rights are and what you have heard about financial assistance for single mothers, you may face social workers whose job is to simply reject your case and the most applications are dismissed, the better for the DSS. Keep also in mind that for each state different standards are in force and so it would be very wise to get familiar with them.

2. Before heading to the Department of Social Services to fill in all the forms necessary to an application for financial support, bring with you all the paperwork you can imagine: the birth certificates of each of you, death certificate in case your husband died, separation or divorce documents, your monthly income and expense reports including bills for power and gas as well as canceled checks for rent and any other document that proves that you are in significant need. Make sure to also provide proof of paternity or at least a request to establish it as the state might reject children aid if establishing paternity has failed.

3. Be prepared for some unpleasant attitude coming from the social workers but don’t get fearful. They are flooded with so many cases that it became a second nature for them to express their displeasure and so don’t expect many smiles. It is very important to be able to take notes so don’t forget to bring a pen and paper. The best way to win a public servant’s consideration is to write down everything he or she says. Most of all don’t forget to write down her or his name and make sure of the proper spelling. Sometimes when you are showing you are ready and are waiting with a pen in your hand, the pressure seems to change side. And always keep in mind that knowledge is power.

4. Try also to hide your emotions if the caseworker adopts an offensive and rude behavior, just keep your self-control and with serenity make clear that it is in your right to claim these information and that you wished to be informed in a frankly and non rude way. Some clarification needs to be made here: don’t consider social workers as obnoxious monsters, it’s just that a lot of women had a disagreeable experience going through this procedure.

4. Never renounce your claim. Single mothers often lose their conviction due to dissuasion, embarrassment or fear and you must always remember these three emotional states and never let them make you give up. Don’t be surprised that in some situations you may need maybe more than four appointments with the DSS plus a lot more phones calls to finally receive the social benefits you are legally allowed to get.

5. Besides claiming your single mother assistance and until you get your financial aid, you should apply for food coupons which are a different program. These stamps are calculated upon your income and the expenses you have for your shelter including utility bills and rent. If more than half of your total revenue is spent on your shelter as a rule you are entitled to almost the highest number of food coupons and this number is calculated by state. Food stamps are basically calculated from the difference between expenses and income and even people collecting disability assistance or social security, elderly and working people can be entitled to.

6. Do not take for granted that you are not entitled for benefits if you own a car or a house, you just have to live in your house and the value of your car must not be more than the limit in place in the state you live in. In addition if you have a savings bank account you should get informed on the maximum dollar amount permitted. In many cases, many women keep a savings account for the difficult days and this might sometimes play against receiving benefits. So it would be wise to find out what is the highest amount you are eligible for.

7. When a caseworker implies you are not entitled to receive social aid, you should request a written statement of this rejection. Sometimes this demand can make social workers reconsider their decision but in any case having documents is always to your benefit.

8. Regardless of being refused benefits or not, you should always request the address of the hearing bureau. If the public agent tells you the address is written on the form, answer you don’t see it and ask for it again because you want to write it down right away.

9. When you ask for a hearing, you should make a written request to the social services department of your state which phone number and address you got from the local DSS. Your claim for hearing should be concise and it should not be the place for arguing, simply state that you were denied a specific benefit and the reasons why. Also write down dates, name of social worker and address of the agency of your initial application. Most caseworkers will start doing their job as soon as they find out that you are requesting a hearing and you won’t even need one.

Always remember, in case you will need a hearing and the state gets your hearing request before the date of reduction of payments, termination of the benefits or whatever you are exposed to, that you should keep on receiving benefits for the same amount until your crisis is solved. Never agree for anything less and if needed seek for legal advice.

10. If your social worker keeps on making it difficult for you, get all the names of the department directors and send each and every document at each level of hierarchy of the bureau and make sure that the agent is aware of your action. You can also send copies to politicians, representatives at state, county and federal level and even to women organizations and to the media. In order to collect the names of your state and federal representatives, call the local election commission.

You will have to be determined when problems appear like delayed checks, reduced amounts or when they tell you to wait and call the DSS continuously to remind them that you didn’t receive your benefits. You may feel you’re being annoying and repeating yourself but it is a good way to make things happen and keep in mind that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”.

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