Paying for bills, feeding the kids and keeping a safe “roof over the head” — these are just a few of the challenges single mothers are forced to deal with alone.
It’s hard enough with a partner, but when you’re doing it alone, the difficulty rises to a whole new level.
In Maine, the state makes every possible efforts to assist single parent families, many of whom struggle to make ends meet.
It participates in various key support programs that give these families a better chance at self-sufficiency.
Maine has officially become the 22nd state with a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — leaving behind Delaware, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia as the only states that offer credit with no refundable portion.
Maine’s EITC, however, remains one of the smallest in the nation [5%] — too small to be effective. For example, if your federal EITC is $3,000, you will only get $150 as a supplemental state credit.
Still Maine is taking a positive step in the right direction by making the state EITC fully refundable, allowing eligible low-income Mainers to receive the full EITC benefit regardless of their tax liability.
In Maine, the aim of TANF is to provide temporary cash assistance to eligible low-income families with children while they work toward self-sufficiency. Maine offers the poorest families a maximum of $582 per month for a family of three.
Apart from cash aid, benefits include child care and transportation assistance, “employment support”, among others. The law, however, allows families to receive TANF benefits for a total of 60 months only.
Families who are otherwise eligible for the TANF program who seek one-time, short-term assistance while searching for a job may apply for Alternative Aid Assistance instead of TANF.
The Food Supplement Program aims to help low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to buy an adequate supply of nutritious food. Those who are on welfare, unemployed and homeless are also eligible.
If eligibility is confirmed, you will receive an EBT Card, known as the “Pine Tree Card” in Maine, to which benefits are issued and accessed electronically, and can be used to withdraw cash or make purchases.
To receive food supplement benefits, go to My Maine Connection, the DHHS website where you can screen for eligibility and apply for public benefit programs online, including TANF and child care subsidy.
MaineCare — formerly known as Medicaid, is a health care coverage for eligible Mainers who couldn’t afford to pay for medical care.1 MaineCare pays all of the cost for many services. For some services, you may need to co-pay for part of the cost.
Maine has passed a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid2
but it had not yet been implemented as of January 2018. However, eligibility for non-disabled adults remains limited to parents with incomes up to 100% of poverty.3
To see if you are eligible for MaineCare, go to My Maine Connection or call 1-855-797-4357 to enroll by phone. It usually takes DHHS a couple weeks to make a decision. If it takes them longer than 45 days, you may be able to get temporary coverage.
Maine Child Care Subsidy Program (also known as the Voucher Program) provides childcare subsidy for income-eligible Maine families who need help paying for child care.
The subsidy amount varies based on the your gross monthly income, family size, and type and cost of care AND since it is a subsidy, you may be required to pay for some of the child care costs.
In general, families with gross family income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level or 85% of the State Median Income (SMI) are eligible to apply for subsidy.4
Maine’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to income-eligible tenants by subsidizing a portion of their monthly rents and paying it directly to their landlords.
Eligible participants are free to choose any housing of their choice, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments and are expected to pay no more than 30% of their income for rent.
To apply for Housing Choice Voucher Program, check the link provided above to see if the county you live in is currently open and accepting new applications.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance to low income households for their energy bills — primarily to help pay winter home heating bills for those who qualify.
LIHEAP is targeted to low and very low income Maine homeowners and renters with incomes that fall within the income eligibility guidelines or 60% of the state area median income, whichever is less.
Applications for LIHEAP are accepted from August 15 through April 30 of each year. To apply, contact the Community Action Agency that serves your county.5
Unemployment Insurance is a safety net for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. It offers temporary financial assistance to thousands of Maine’s unemployed by providing weekly cash benefits to those who qualify.
If you meet the eligibility requirements of the law, you’re entitled to supplemental income while you are looking for a new job, up to a maximum of $646 per week.
To file a new claim, click here or if you’ve filed a new claim or reopened a claim in the past two weeks, click here. If you wish to file by phone, call the Unemployment Claims Center at 1-800-593-7660.
The State of Maine Grant Program is a need-based program that provides grants to Maine undergraduate students who complete the FAFSA no later than the May 1 deadline.
Because this is a need-based grant, your expected family contribution (EFC) must not exceed the maximum EFC set in any given year. The maximum EFC for the 2018–2019 academic year is 4,800.
The award amount is up to $1,500 per year for a full-time student. If you are enrolled less than full-time, you may be eligible for a pro-rated amount. However, funds are limited so you are encouraged to apply early.References
- Is MaineCare the same as Medicaid?
- Vox, Maine just became the 33rd state to expand Medicaid
- What is the income limit for MaineCare?
- Please refer to the Income Eligibility Criteria
- For an application or more information, contact the program agent that serves your area.