Where to Get Help
Where to Get Help for Medical Care, Meals, Food, Rent, Cash, Clothes, and other Needed Items in San Antonio and Surrounding Communities
File your Tax Return and Claim Earned Income Credit even if you made less than $17,500 last year. An estimated quarter of those eligible still are unaware of the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor that can pay up to $4,716 this year. Experts estimate that as many as 1 in 4 people who qualify are unaware of the credit. In fact, the Earned Income Tax Credit is considered the nation's largest anti-poverty program, delivering more than $36 billion to about 21 million families.
Many of these families are not filing tax returns because they earn less than the minimum required $17,500 for filing for a married couple. They don't try to find help from an income tax preparation service at all.
The United Way is offering Federal income tax return preparation assistance in and around San Antonio to low income families that qualify. Similar efforts are underway in big cities nationwide. The Internal Revenue Service also offers free tax preparation through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which helps low-income and elderly filers in locations around the country.
The earned income tax program is very important because it is a gateway to help families learn about financial literacy, get them banked and get them saving and investing, It is also a gateway to get these families other services too.
The earned income tax credit, launched in 1975, was initially designed to return to low-income workers a portion of the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from their paychecks. But after a series of changes over the last two decades, the credit generates a "refund" that typically exceeds the amount of tax withheld.
For example, a married couple who earned $17,500 last year would have had withheld from their pay $1,338 in Social Security and Medicare taxes -- and no federal income tax. If the couple have two children, they can receive $4,688 from the tax credit.
But claiming the credit is a challenge. It requires filling out extra tax forms and meeting various requirements. Who can claim the credit and how much can you get? Here's a guide:
Who is eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit?
The earned income tax credit is available to any legal resident who has a valid Social Security number and earned income that's under a threshold that varies based on marital status and whether you have children.
- You have no children and earn no more than $12,590, or are married (and file jointly) and earn as much as $14,590.
- You have one "qualifying" child and earn no more than $33,241 if you are single or $35,241 if you are married.
- You have two or more qualifying children and earn no more than $37,783 if you are single or $39,783 if you are married. What if I have investment income?
The credit is mainly for workers who have income from wages, salary, tips, commissions and certain disability pensions. If you have more than $2,900 in investment income, such as interest, dividends or capital gains, you are disqualified from claiming the credit. You're also ineligible if you have tax-exempt income earned in another country. You cant however get the credit if I'm claimed as a dependent on someone else's return.
How much will I get?
That depends on your income and number of offspring. For the 2007 tax year, the maximum credit is $428 for those with no children, $2,853 for a parent with one qualifying child and $4,716 for a parent with two qualifying children.
What's a qualifying child?
A child generally is counted when calculating the credit if he or she is your child or grandchild, lives with you in the U.S. and was 18 or younger at the end of 2007. The age limit is lifted to 23 for full-time students. There is no age limit if the child is permanently and totally disabled. A qualifying child also must have a valid Social Security number.
What if I share custody?
The short answer is just one of you can claim each qualifying child. If both parents qualify and there's more than one child, you each could claim one child or one parent could claim both children. It's your choice, as long as both parents don't claim the same child.
How do I claim the credit?
You must file a tax return, including IRS Form EIC. You can have the IRS calculate the credit for you or you can calculate it yourself using the work sheet and tables accompanying Form EIC. If you figure it yourself, you put the credit amount on line 8a of Form 1040EZ, line 40a of the 1040A, or line 66a of the long 1040 form.
I am hurt, sick and/or disabled and have little or no money. I need help right now! What medical care, monetary relief, food, shelter and other relief programs are available for me and my family in Bexar County, San Antonio and surrounding towns?
There are many help-type services available to people claiming disability with the Social Security Administration, or are hurt in a slip and fall, auto accident, or other type of personal injury. With just a little effort on your part, you and your family can find immediate help and may well be better off while you are awaiting Social Security disability benefits or your personal injury award.
As your San Antonio disability lawyer and accident attorney, your needs while making your disability claim with Social Security or prosecuting your lawsuit against the person or company who injured you is important to us. We made the extra effort to find these helpful assistance pages, compile them, put them on our web page, and explain them to you. We hope it will be useful for you.
Is there a fast way I can determine what Texas and County sponsored benefits I qualify for while I am claiming for Social Security disability?
Yes there is. Follow the below link to the Texas State benefits page. From there you can determine if you are eligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Children's Health Insurance, and nursing home care and other services for people who are elderly or have disabilities: Texas Benefits
Can I get a VIA pass in Bexar County or San Antonio or ride for a reduced rate if I have little money, little mobility, am disabled, or are elderly?
The answer is yes. Follow the link below for the special discount that VIA Metropolitan gives to sick, hurt, or disabled people: VIA Discount Ticket
What is Care Link in Bexar County and how can it help me get quality medical care and document my Social Security disability claim?
One way to get medical care and document your Social Security disability illness or injuries in Bexar County and San Antonio when you have little or no money to get it is to apply through the University Hospital Care Link program.
Care Link is a membership program for Bexar County residents who do not have health insurance and are not eligible for other programs such as Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Care Link offers families a monthly payment plan that is based on their income and family size. The income cannot exceed 300% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to qualify. It also assists families in accessing quality health care at University Health System. Follow the link to their web page: Care Link Information .
How do I know if I qualify for Care Link?
There are residency requirements (show an official document like a power bill in your name that is less than 30 days old) and monetary income requirements (You can't make too much money). If you qualify for residence, and income, you need only proper identification to start your benefits. For more information on Care Link qualifications follow the link below to their qualification page: Care Link Qualifications
How do I contact the good people at Care Link?
There are many ways to contact Care Link. Just follow the link below to find the most convenient one for you: Contact Care Link
What San Antonio Government assistance is available?
It is amazing what assistance is available for hurt or disabled people in San Antonio and the surrounding area. BUT, most people don't know what help is available or where to find it. Scour these websites and find what you need. Don't pay extra or suffer without when your hard earned tax dollars provide assistance you now need.
Are there volunteer groups nearby me that can help me with food, shelter, money, clothes and other basic needs?
Yes! This next link is very useful for all types of help. Take a look at the top left hand corner of the website and refine the search to your area and the type of help you need. All of the volunteer assistance groups have gathered at this site for you to contact and find help. We know you will find this useful. San Antonio Volunteer Assistance
Here is another link to San Antonio, Bexar County, and surrounding town programs that can provide you clothes, shelter, money, food and other basic needs. It is sponsored by the United Way and is updated constantly. Just click here to find out: United Way Programs and Assistance
No listing of aid for disabled or hurt people in San Antonio would be complete without the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries. This wonderful organization has been San Antonio's largest provider for homeless and those at risk of being homeless. Over the years they have expanded their services to provide several levels of assistance from an emergency shelter all the way through a permanent supportive housing program. While some beds are for the homeless, people who won't or can't get off the streets, Other plans offer free rent for two years. But residents must work or go to school full time, stay off drugs and save 30 percent of their income. This program has had a 70% success rate for getting families back on their feet. Click here for more information: SAM Ministries
Let me get to the point... I am hurt and/or disabled. I am waiting for Social Security to approve my disability claim or waiting for my injury claim to settle. I need food to help feed my family! Are there any programs in San Antonio, Bexar County, or the surrounding area that give out food?
Yes there is. The San Antonio Food Bank has quite a few places where you can go and get free food for you and your family. Click here to find out a place near you: Food Bank
Is there anywhere else I can go for help with money, bills, food, and prescriptions?
The St. Vincent de Paul of San Antonio has many programs that you may qualify for which will help you through the lean times you face now.
1. The CLIENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM assists people like you who find themselves in financial difficulty. Limited financial assistance is provided for things such as rent / mortgage, utility, funeral, and medication. For more information click here: St. Vincent de Paul Financial Assistance program
2. The St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room is located at 928 W. Commerce. Anyone, homeless or hungry, may come to the SVDP Dining Room to eat. Click here for more information: St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room
3. You can also pick up food from the good people at St. Vincent de Paul for your home to cook for your family. They have food pantries in 73 Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Persons who are in need of food assistance should call the their office at 225-7837. You will be given a referral to the appropriate food pantry within your the Catholic parish area. Click here for more information: St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry
I don't live in Bexar County. Is there any place where I can get low cost medical care for my disabilities?
Yes there is. If you qualify, you can get medical care and documentation of your disabilities in many places in Texas for little or no money. You just have to know where to look.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) helps to fund clinic sites in the 11 Health Service Regions within the state. Services are provided directly by DSHS regional health facilities and through contracts with a variety of organizations including local health departments, hospitals, private non-profit agencies, and community and rural health centers.
The program allows for many types of treatment. Priority is given to the following types of primary health care services: Diagnosis and Treatment, Emergency Services, Family Planning, Preventive health services, including immunizations, Health education, Laboratory, x-ray, nuclear medicine or other appropriate diagnostic services.
You can find out if you are eligible by clicking here: Eligibility
You can find a clinic where you can get care by clicking here: DSHS Clinics
What is that "Private Medicare Replacement Plan" that everyone says I have to enroll in?
For San Antonians currently on Medicare, you must either elect to stay on traditional Medicare or opt for one of the 78 different private plans offered in Bexar County by December 31, 2007. If you find you made a bad choice, you have from January 1, 2008 to March 30, 2008 to switch to another, or go back to traditional Medicare.
If you are eligible for extra help with the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan you can enroll now and still not have to pay a penalty. If you do not qualify for the extra help, you have to wait for the next enrollment period for the Medicare prescription drug program, and you might have to pay a penalty. Better get going!
Several problems with those Medicare Replacement plans have surfaced. While most hospital stays are covered, the cost of expensive medical equipment that may be needed could fall on the patient. Mental health treatment is another out-of-pocket expense borne by the patient, and several plans had a $950 or more co-payment before the insurance kicked in.
The main problem is that some Medicare recipients find out that they can no longer see the same doctor or end up with thousands of dollars in emergency room charges because they went to a hospital not covered in their plan.
What is the Medicare prescription program and that "Dough-nut Hole" problem I have heard about in the Medicare prescription plan?
Everyone who qualifies for Medicare, is eligible for their prescription program. This program is like health insurance with prescription coverage: Pay a small prescription co-payment instead of the full price of your prescription. However, you must enroll in the program to get the benefits.
The problem most on Medicare drug plan recipients face is the "Medicare Dough nut Hole." Most drug plans cover drug expenses up to a certain amount and then stop funding until the patient pays a certain amount out-of-pocket. For some people, they will have to pay up to $4000.00 or more before coverage kicks in again and many brand named drugs are not covered.
How can I get help in choosing a Medicare replacement plan or drug program?
Medicare has a website and a toll free number regarding choice of health plans. The website is www.medicare.gov. The toll free number is 1 (800) 633-4223.
Another place where you can help is the Medicare ombudsman. The information there can assist Medicare enrollees with choices and problems with health plans.
Bexar County also offers help for those enrolling in Medicare and other issues regarding aging in the way of counseling to seniors in Bexar and 11 surrounding counties. You can call (210) 362-5254 or 1 (800) 960-5201 or just click here for their website: Bexar Area Agency on aging
Enroll in Medicare Prescription Program or Call them at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
How can I get assistance for the Medicare Prescription plan premiums I have to pay?
You might be eligible for extra help in paying monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments that is available to some beneficiaries with limited income and resources. That extra help could be worth an average of $3,300 per year for those who qualify. You could qualify for the extra help if you have limited income (below $15,315 for an individual or $20,535 for a married couple) and resources (below $11,710 for an individual or $23,410 for a married couple).
But watch out for the Medicare Prescription dough nut hole. One day, you wake up and your health is not so hot. Over time, it gets progressively worse until you spiral into Social Security Disability income and run into Medicare's "dough nut hole" - a coverage gap created by the Medicare drug program that took effect last year.
The hole swallows poor patients requiring many prescriptions. When total drug costs reach $2,400, patients must pay 100 percent of their prescription costs until they've spent $3,850 out of pocket, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. To find out click here: Extra $ for Medicare Prescription Premiums or c all Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778.
What if I suspect one of these health plan providers is cheating me?
The Texas Department of insurance provides tips on warning signs of Medicare fraud. You can report fraud by calling the TDI Consumer Help line at 1 (800) 252-3439.
What other help might I be able to get regarding my prescriptions?
Love them or hate them, Wal-Mart is offering a great value on some prescription drugs. If you are paying high deductibles or high prices on your prescribed prescriptions, it might be worth showing the $4.00 Wal-Mart prescription offerings to your doctor. He or she may be able to use one of the $4.00 prescriptions they offer as a substitute for the drug you are taking now. Click here for the current Wal-Mart prescription listings: Walmart $4.00 Prescriptions
Are there any other Pharmacies out there offering low cost prescriptions?
Yes there are. For those of you who cannot find your particular prescription on the Walmart list, Try the Costco list (you need a Costco Membership). Some are slightly more than the Walmart $4.00 price, but if they aren't offered at Walmart, you may well find it here. Pay particular attention to the generic alternative to the drug which may have been prescribed for you. Generics can same you considerable money.
Is there any other help available for medical care and prescriptions if I am a veteran?
If you are a veteran and do not have a discharge from the service that denies you Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, you can apply for VA medical benefits, even if your injury or sickness is not service related. The VA now contracts out to doctors in your local area for your medical care if you are enrolled in their program. No longer do you have to sit in the emergency room at VA hospitals for non-emergency care or checkups. It is just like going to the doctor. Co-pays for VA contracted doctors are only $15 and prescriptions are free if you meet VA low income standards. At most, your co-pay for prescriptions would be $7.00. A bargain in any place in the world. To see if you qualify for VA benefits, click on our Va Benefits link: VA Benefits
How do I find out if I am eligible and enroll in the VA Medical Plan?
Lean about about the program and enroll by clicking here: Enroll in VA Medical Program
Is there additional help for Veterans who are applying for Social Security Disability?
11/29/07 (SSA) has created a new website just for veterans to apply for Social Security Disability and make their claims faster. The Commissioner of Social Security recently sent out a press release highlighting the agency's efforts to improve service and reach out to wounded veterans. "We honor Americas veterans whose love of country, willingness to serve and sacrifice ensures the many freedoms we enjoy today," Commissioner Astrue said. "While we can never fully repay them for their sacrifices, we can be sure we provide them with the quality of service and the respect they so richly deserve." Click here to access the new SSA website for Veterans: Wounded Warriors Program.
Is there a service in San Antonio where I can get a free smoke detector installed in my home by an expert?
The United Way in San Antonio has a wonderful program where you sign up and get a free smoke detector installed in your home by a member of our Fire Department. Just click here to sign up for your free smoke detector.
I am over 60 and am worried about how hot it gets in my home in Summer. Is there some sort of help I can get to beat the San Antonio Summer heat?
The United way as a program called "Project Cool" where those in San Antonio who are over 60 years of age can get a free box fan. to help alleviate the health risks posed by severe summer heat. Click here to find out how to get yours: Project Cool
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