Top 10 Tips -- Applying for Benefits
Applying for public benefits is not always easy. Here are some tips so you know your rights and make the process easier.
1. You have a right to submit an application. The county must accept and process that application. The county cannot tell you not to apply.
2. If you need help completing an application, you have the right to ask for help and get it from the county.
3. You have the right to an interpreter in any language to help you understand your notices or to help you talk with your financial worker.
4. If you have difficulty getting verifications the county asks you for, you have the right to request help from the county and receive it.
5. The county must accept a signed personal statement as verification of:
- a claim of family violence,
- the fact that a job has ended,
- the relationship of minor children to their caregiver (unless the caregiver is the father), and
- other documentation that is not available for reasons beyond your control, if you have made reasonable attempts to get the documentation the county has requested.
6. Whenever you submit anything to the county, state, or federal government (i.e., Social Security Administration), put your name and case number on every page. Sign and date what you submit, and keep a copy for yourself so you can prove you submitted it if it gets lost. If you submit anything in person at the county or state office, ask them to date-stamp your copy for you.
7. If you have a disability, you have the right to receive benefits and services on an equal basis to a person without a disability. The county may be required to make a reasonable modification to the rules to accommodate you.
8. You have the right to receive written notice of any denial, reduction, or termination of benefits. The notice usually has to be sent 10 days before the action will take place. You have the right to get accurate information about the reason(s) for the county’s action.
9. You have the right to appeal any action by the county. Some actions you may appeal are:
- a denial of assistance,
- a reduction or change in the amount of your benefits,
- a termination of your benefits,
- imposition of a sanction or disqualification,
- an overpayment,
- a determination that you have committed fraud,
- a denial of your request to increase your benefits through a "significant change" request, and
- other actions taken that you disagree with, such as incorrect calculations of a medical spenddown.
10. You should be treated fairly and respectfully by the county. You have the right to complain if you are not treated well.