Amount of income to get certain benefits...

Momma_Bird_OHFebruary 4, 2003

My DH has been unemployed for over a year. Last year he got 1 month of severance pay (January) and then unemployment. He's had no income since October. My income would qualify our kids for reduced lunch at school (but not free) and also for reduced registration costs for classes at our city recreation centers. However, you have to prove income by either a Medicaid card, welfare card, or last year's income tax return. I make too much $ for Medicaid or welfare, and when I do our 2002 taxes, it will show his severance pay and unemployment, so it will put us over the limit. Is there a way I could show how much I make alone? Does anyone know if I could write a letter and attach it to the income tax return, stating that DH has no income now?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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except he HAS had income--his unemployment payments. I'm figuring (but not sure) that they'll count towards my husband's income, which has to be above $5,000 for us to qualify for pretax Flexible Spending Account for dependent care.

If they'd count for that, they'd count for food stamps.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2003 at 1:11PM
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But I think she's saying his unemployment stopped in October and he has not had any income (unemployment or otherwise) since then.

I would call the program that you're applying to and ask them directly. I'm sure they've been asked this question before.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2003 at 1:51PM
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ouch! I missed that; sorry, Momma Bird. Did he get (and keep) a letter telling him unemployment benefits ended?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2003 at 4:33PM
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Yes, he did get a letter saying his unemployment benefits ended. Maybe I should attach that to the copy of the tax return. I just hope I don't have to wait a year - ie wait until we file 2003 taxes to qualify, although God willing he will have a job by then. I'm most interested in the rec center 1/2 price classes, we had to drop the kids' classes when DH lost his job because we couldn't afford it anymore (along with dropping piano lessons, swimming lessons, etc) and I just found about about this 1/2 price assistance today. The director told me they use the same guidelines as reduced price lunches so maybe my kids could also get reduced price lunches, although I think school lunches are a bargain as it is - their school has a good cook and the food is actually good, if you can believe it!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2003 at 5:01PM
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MommaBird, just a matter of curiosity,,, what kind of vehicles do you own?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 3:06AM
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Gina, whe have a 1990 Ford Explorer that we bought used in '92 and has been paid off since 97, has 118k miles and a big rust hole in the door but runs great, and a 1998 Ford Windstar (base model) that has 18 more payments of $228. At this point it is more beneficial to keep the van and make the last 18 payments, if we sold it we would loose $$ due to excessively high mileage.

When DH lost his job we looked into selling the van but we would have ended up still owing $$ after what we could get for it. Like so many people who have posted here, we are caught in a bad situation for this car. Also, since that time my company has moved locations - I used to live 10 minutes away from the office & both were on the bus line, but now the company has moved 1/2 hour across town and it would mean taking 2 different busses w/a transfer downtown. I did take the bus once right after the office move just to see how long it would take, and it took an hour and 15 minutes.

Will I have to put what our vehicles are on the forms for the rec center?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 8:43AM
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I can't see why they'd care about your vehicles at the rec center.

I bet you can give them all the info they need if you combine the tax returns and the letter from unemployment (maybe even add a copy of his termination letter from his employer, if you still have that). It certainly can't hurt! And they have to deal with people who lose their jobs midyear like this, so there's got to be a way. Your plan sounds like a good start; good luck!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 10:53AM
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I wondered how long it would take before someone ferreted out this question and used it as a chance to "slam" Momma_Bird_OH for daring to ask about receiving some type of assistance before she and her family are living on bus benches in her town's courthouse square. However, it's heartening to note that all but one reply have been well-meaning. I pay taxes, and I'd MUCH rather see my tax money go to help a family affected by unemployment than for 90 percent of the other things it gets spent on.

Incidentally, Momma_Bird, you should check into food stamps, because they are often used as an indication of need for other programs as well, and this might include the specific one you are interested in. I believe that in most places, there is a 3-month qualification period for food stamps, so it should not be necessary to show an entire year of low income before you can get them.

Every state has different regulations, to the best thing to do would be contact the local office, explain your situation just as you did here, and see what you might be entitled to receive.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 12:31PM
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Ken, thank you! I checked into foodstamps but my salary, while by no means high, is higher than allowed for a family of 5 for foodstamps. I feel like I get penalized for working hard, getting a degree, and working hard to maintain a good job - because my salary is about 5k higher than the threshold for most gov't benefits for a family of 5.

I don't feel at all bad asking for the rec center assistance or school lunch assistance. DH and I have worked hard for over 20 years and paid taxes, both of us have had jobs since our 16th birthdays, and we've never lived lavishly - we have a very small house, older cars, don't spent a lot, etc. It's not like so many of our friends who have 3,000 sq ft houses, boats, Suburbans to pull the boats, etc. and are now boo-hooing because one of them has lost their job and they have to sell it all. We can live on my salary, but just exist. All of the extras, like rec center classes for the kids, have had to go; along with eating out once a week after church, $ to spend on hobbies, family vacations, cable tv, etc. I'm thankful now that we've always lived below our means or we would really be hurting. DH's salary was about 65% of our income so it was a big blow when he was cut.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 4:15PM
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File individual tax returns. Let one of you claim the kids as dependents and you're home free for all the bennies? Sounds good right at this minute, but check with a tax person to be sure. Might cost you on your return, but the bennies for the kids might outweigh. Do the math.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2003 at 1:39AM
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Filing separately usually results in a combined refund of less and additional tax prep fees because the tax laws are written unfavorably for MFS and disallow many credits. Suggest that you file your tax return as MFJ.

Attach a letter of explanation and any other type of supporting documentation with your request. They will usually take the current situation into consideration.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2003 at 12:03AM
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Hi Momma Bird, neighbour in OH

Being totally unfamiliar with your system, I have no advice to offer.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I'm glad that you hadn't bought a lot of stuff on the installment plan.

Repossession after having paid all of that money and being left with nothing to show for it is no fun.

If bought on credit cards, you'd have the balances - and high interest rate - to pay, or be in trouble.

I'm glad that you didn't have those extra problems to deal with.

Good wishes to you and yours,

ole Ed

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 2:09AM
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In response to filing separate returns to try to get benefits, liketolearn is correct. I suspect that if your state is like mine, the benefits are based on total household income not on what is on one the tax return with the children on it. Unless you are willing to lie about living together (and I suspect you aren't willing to lie based on other things you've said here), filing separate returns won't help the situation.

Just in case you do decide to file separate returns, you both need to file as married filing separately. Neither of you will qualify as head of household because you lived together during the last 6 months of 2002. Its a common mistake to overlook that detail.

I suggest you take your 2002 tax return, a letter explaining your situation, a copy of the letter that states your husband's unemployment has run out, and a copy of your most recent pay stub to the various places and see what happens. The worst thing they can do is say no, the best, you will get some benefits.

Good luck! I hope your situation gets better soon.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 10:38AM
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Ask the school to get a form for the lunch program. You shouldn't have to wait, go ahead and do it now. When we got reduced lunches, I think I just took in a paycheck stub, they didn't need income tax forms (might be different for different states, but this is a federal program), the irony in our situation is that hubby works for the government, and THEY say he wasn't getting paid enough so got reduced lunches and they were the ones signing the check. We have since lost that by tripping over the limits, due to raises and losing our oldest son (they now consider us a family of 4).

It doesn't hurt to check, the most you can find out is that you are still over the limit and they say no. But they might have other programs to help, you just never know. Hope things pick up for you soon though!! Laura

    Bookmark   March 23, 2004 at 11:47PM
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Did he try to apply for unemployment benefits again? I know you can apply more than the initial time if you haven't found a job. My heart goes out to you. I'm currently unemployed due to back and hand problems, but I need to be working as all the burden is on DH right now, just like you have a big burden on you. Hang in there!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 12:39PM
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It was years ago, but when I was in the same situation a letter of explanation is all that was required of me to get reduced lunches and a free Boys and Girls club card for my children

Not all states extend benefits. It depends on the state and the level of federal participation which depends on how high the state unemployment is. Things have really tightened up where I live.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 9:52PM
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Sometimes there is assistance available for retraining, too. My neighbor is a CAD/CAM operator and there are very few jobs in that field now. The state is sending him to community college to learn commercial graphic arts.

My sis was laid off from Kmart last March and was unemployed until the end of November. She now does the same work she did at Kmart at Lowes, and earns a bit more than Kmart paid. But she worked and worked to get a job. She did the newspaper ads, the online ads, the stop by and drop off a resume thing at every place she could think of. She had applied for a job at Lowes earler, but the cash office position she was trained for was already filled by the time they ran want ads for the new store. She ended up going to their hiring office as soon as she heard the next store was going in. She was hired (by a Kmart alumni) before they advertised for workers for that store. She tried so very hard to find a job, and in the end it really did come down to good luck with timing.

Tell DH we are all pulling for him. It is hard to stay optimistic. I am so proud of my sis for getting through that difficult time so well. Our economy is changing, and the little guy gets lost in the wash.

I am certain that the letter, along with the tax form, will get your kids what they need. You might also look into local food banks. Here, a family can get a box of food from the local food pantry every month, even if they are over the limit for food stamps. There is also the federal commodities food available (you know, the cheese and peanut butter and canned goods), I think people can qualify for that even if they don't get food stamps, too. Plus, there is a program called SHARE. It gives local producers of foods a place to sell surpluses and so you get fresh meats, fruits, and veggies for a very low price. It is usually run out of a church or community center and volunteers portion out the goods. For SHARE, there is no income requirement. You do need to sign up for it ahead of time.

And, heaven forbid, if your family is still not back on your feet by the holidays, please check into the different service organizations (Goodfellows, Lions Club, etc.) for food, gifts and clothes for the holidays. One of my counseling clients was very angry when one of the town service organizations brought his family food and presents at Christmas. We talked about it a lot. He finally was able to see that the people who were being so kind to his family were doing so out of love and generosity and that it made them feel so good to help him. He had served his community as a scout leader, as a town councilman, as a volunteer in other activities. His kids were also involved in service activities. He was able to remember how he felt when his family was able to help others and in the end, decided that others deserved that feeling, too. Instead of him fuming and ruining the holidays for his family, they were all able to feel grateful and accept the love of their community with grace. In my eyes, this is what makes humans special - the ability to give of ourselves selflessly. Accept any assistance you can find and don't let judgemental people make you justify your choices.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 12:30AM
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