Benefits.gov is an official U.S. Government authority site. It advises U.S. citizens of the benefits that they are qualified to get from the government. Details include things like instructions regarding submitting applications for aid.
Like Grants.gov, this site gathers data from Federal, State, and Local government agencies. To fight lies and scams on the internet, Benefits.gov tries to provide the most accurate and up-to-date listings for government benefits.
The bottom line: be honest with your motives. Do what you love and use this website as a tool to get there. If you think you can use this site just to get paid, you'll be disappointed with the results. And you'll probably be taking benefits from other individuals in need. Honestly take the questionaire and see if any benefits apply to you!
Benefits.gov lists thousands of opportunites for citizens. But it's important to know that none of these opportunities are grants. Grants are awards of financial assistance to individuals or organizations for a government authorized purpose.
While these benefits seem likewise authorized for a purpose, you are not contracted to do specific work for the government. For more information on grants that you or your business may be eligible for, visit Grants.gov. But first, take the time to fill out the questionnaire completely – you may be surprised by the results!
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The benefits.gov website features a monthly newsletter to which you can subscribe. These are quite timely and might alert you to benefits you could receive but were not aware of. They also include tips that are pertinent to specific times of the year. For example, the current (August 2018) edition of the newsletter highlights tips about the upcoming or current hurricane season. These include both how to prepare for the season and what government agencies you can turn to for information and resources which can help you prepare as well as help you after the storms. They can also help you to assess the level of risk you may face based on your location.
News September 2018 In addition to providing their own questionnaire regarding benefits in general. benefits.gov also provides helpful information regarding other government agencies and the benefits they provide. This month they are highlighting the Social Security Administration. In their Spotlight on Social Security section at the very top of the site they provide an excellent overview of the types of assistance the SSA provides. Since there is so much information out there, this overview may provide important information about certain types of help you didn't know you might be eligible for. They also provide some tips about SSA's Benefits Planner and numerous calculators available to help you determine things like your retirement age, the amount of Social Security you might receive (yourself or based on spousal benefits) and more.
February 2018 Update
If you've tried using benefits.gov and gotten confused and frustrated, don't give up. They've made some improvements! Now there is a tutorial you can click on to get very clear information. It's presented visually and also talks you through the steps you need to take. Also, it can tell what state you are logging in from and now highlights new or featured benefits available in your specific state (at least it did when we just visited). So it could very well be worth trying again, especially since there have been changes and updates with the change in administrations.
September 2017 Update: If you or others you know have been seriously affected by Hurricane Harvey or other disasters you may be able to find some help on the government benefits site. Of course if you’re in urgent, immediate need of help you should call 911 to access local resources. If you have survived but are suffering from emotional distress — which would be quite understandable — you can call 1-800-985-5990. This is a Disaster Distress Helpline and will put you in touch with a professional. If you prefer to send a message, text TalkWithUs to 6674. The Benefits site also provides some Disaster Unemployment Assistance, a National Flood Insurance Program, And a Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Program.
June 2017 Update Did you know the government wants to help you find a job? They are highlighting opportunities for assistance in the current opening page for benefits.gov. Summer is apparently a good time to seek new employment or perhaps change jobs, and an online tool that is created and maintained by the Department of Labor can help you do so. It’s called CareerOneStop. It provides a number of resources like a tool that lets you identify your skills and match them with specific types of jobs; assistance after you’ve been laid off; aid for those being released from prison; jobs for seniors and those with disabilities and more.
July 2016 Update As temperatures rise benefits.gov wants to remind you about programs that help you manage the costs of staying cool. If you are a low-income household you should look into the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program also known as LIHEAP. In some cases they help with bill payments, repairs to your home that would reduce your costs, help during an energy crisis and more. These services are in addition to the more familiar Weatherization Assistance Program.
A wide variety of benefits are available from Career Development Assistance to Healthcare and Tax Assistance. Benefits are ordered in various ways: by state, by category, and by federal agency.
For example, when I filled out the questionaire, my results were a kind of oddball mix. Among the results were American Jazz Masters Fellowships, State Fire Training Systems Grants, and Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers. Some of these opportunities are promising but most sound weird. It benefits you to be highly specific in the questionaire. If you're looking for “free money”, narrow it down to a specific cause. If you're looking for a job or training, be specific about your interests. Are you good with computers? Do you like working outdoors?
Background and current activity: benefits.gov started in 2002 when an observant government administrator realized there was no one place the public could go to in order to determine what government benefits they were eligible for. More recently the site was upgraded in order to be mobile-friendly — resulting in a 60% increase in mobile traffic in just six months. Now (2016) benefits.gov includes 17 government agencies and allows individuals to get information about over 1200 government programs offering benefits and assistance. Not only can you see what programs you qualify for, you can also sign up for their newsletter providing the latest on events and news about existing and new or modified programs.
benefits.gov can be a little overwhelming. It provides information on more than 1200 programs that could provide you with assistance from 17 agencies. You can also learn more about all kinds of topics like nutrition, healthcare and more. Additional topics are covered in the section called “Newsroom.” They also offer downloadable materials about topics like guides for the unemployed, the disabled, seniors, veterans and more. They even include They also cover helpful information that is offered by organizations outside the government. Examples include how to deal with your student loans, advice on buying your first house and resources available from your own state.
Are you retired or thinking about retirement? You may be eligible for Social Security Benefits – and other members of your family could even be eligible for some based on your record. Those who are disabled can also receive aid from the Social Security Administration. See our latest review of the the SSA website for more.
According to the benefits.gov monthly newsletter, a special loan can be used by those with VA loans to reduce their mortgage loan interest rate. It’s called the Veterans Administration Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). You could qualify if you’re a veteran, are on active duty, are currently in the Reserve or National Guard, or possibly if you’re a surviving spouse. Learn more about this and other monthly news on benefits.gov.
Are you looking for a job? You're not alone! In July 2015 the U.S. labor Department reported an increase of 215,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate that unfortunately stayed the same at (5.3%). While new jobs sound great, the fact that the unemployment rate didn’t drop means that lots of people are still left out of the workforce. If you’re one of them, benefits.gov could help you find a new job. On the opening page take a look at the changing graphic in the upper right. One of them will ask if you’ve lost your job and suggest you visit “Career OneStop Worker Re-Employment.” Click that and you’ll go to a site that’s managed by the Department of Labor. The page is well organized and makes it easy to get job information. That info might be about getting Unemployment Benefits, finding help if your benefits have run out, and extensive help seeking a new job.
Did you know that American Indians and Alaska Natives have their own resource on benefits.gov? There are custom information finders pertaining to Education, Employment, Food and even Loans the Environment and Youth. This is a great resource that streamlines the search process and lets eligible individuals find benefits related specifically to them without having to wade through the extensive information hosted on this site. There is a tailored Resource Finder questionnaire that will request answers to questions about your citizenship status, household members, employment, income and more. Be patient and fill it all out! The result will be information about what benefits you are eligible for and how to apply for them. It’s worth the time because you may not even have heard of some of them.
After some digging through the site we also found useful guides with specific focus on Families, Seniors, and Students. To find these guides, navigate to the Advocates section and click “Community Advocates”. You'll see the fact sheets listed on the left-hand side. As a starting point, this can be a great place to idenfity the benefits you are most likely able to receive. As examples, families may benefit from the Head Start Program for children which promotes school readiness or the Hope for Homeowners program that provides new 30-year fixed rate mortgages. Likewise, seniors may find information on Medicare and the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Finally, students can expect to find information about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Student Temporary Employment Program. Whatever your situation in life, Benefits.gov likely has specific benefits for you.
Because there are so many government benefits, a long questionnaire is required to narrow results. This questionnaire is rather specific about employment, family, and living situation. Remember this website isn't a slot machine but is still worth your time and energy. You can't just answer a questionnaire and receive money. Once you use the questionnaire, and a list of possibly relevant opportunites are shown, you'll still need to fill out an application and meet specific eligibility requirements. The government will not give out “free money” to anyone for anything. Again, this is just an aggregation site. You can't apply directly to Benefits.gov. When you visit the listing for a particular opportunity, it will likely take you to the sponsoring government agency. For other ideas on how to get some money quickly, see Grants to Pay Bills.
If you found this article useful, you may also want to discuss and learn about other websites on the internet.