US Social Programs: What are they? Who is eligible?


The United States is known for its complex system of social programs designed to provide assistance and support to a variety of groups and individuals in need. These programs range from medical assistance to food and housing subsidies. 

US Social Programs

In the United States, social programs play a key role in building a safety net for individuals and families in situations of economic vulnerability. From the implementation of Social Security during the Great Depression to more recent programs aimed at providing medical, food and housing assistance, the country has developed a variety of initiatives to help those facing financial difficulties.

Social Security

Social Security is one of the most important and widely recognized social programs in the United States. Created in 1935 during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Social Security provides financial benefits to retirees, people with disabilities and survivors of deceased workers. To qualify for Social Security benefits, workers must have contributed to the system by paying payroll taxes during their working lives.


Medicare is a federally funded health insurance program in the United States for people aged 65 and over, as well as some younger people with severe disabilities. Medicare helps cover the costs of doctor, hospital and prescription drug services. To qualify for Medicare, individuals generally must have worked and paid taxes for a certain number of years.


Medicaid is a health care program funded jointly by the federal government and the states, designed to provide health coverage for people with low incomes and limited resources. Those eligible for Medicaid include low-income families, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Eligibility requirements and Medicaid benefits vary from state to state.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Formerly known as food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program that provides low-income individuals and families with benefits to buy food. SNAP benefits are distributed through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card and can be used to buy food at supermarkets, grocery stores and other authorized establishments. Eligibility criteria for SNAP include family income and family size.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that helps low-income families pay their energy bills, such as electricity, natural gas, heating oil and other energy-related services. LIHEAP benefits vary according to income, family size, type of residence and local energy costs.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Education

The United States offers a variety of scholarship and financial aid programs to help students pay for post-secondary education. These include federal grants, low-interest student loans, need-based scholarships and work-study programs. Eligibility criteria for these programs vary and can include family income, academic performance and other considerations.

Unemployment Insurance Program

The Unemployment Insurance Program provides temporary income replacement benefits to unemployed workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance benefits are designed to help workers cover their basic expenses while they look for a new job. Eligibility criteria for unemployment insurance include employment history, previous income and reason for job loss.

A crucial role

Social programs in the United States play a crucial role in promoting well-being and reducing economic inequality. However, it is important to note that eligibility criteria and specific benefits may vary depending on the program and the state in which you reside. If you believe you are eligible for any of these programs, it is advisable to contact the local agencies responsible for obtaining more information and assistance on how to apply.

See also: Are people who earn the minimum wage entitled to Bolsa Família?

June 2nd, 2024