Category: Helping Hands Blog
Published: Thursday, 23 June 2016 15:02
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handing moneyFinancial Help in Atlanta (and the Rest of the Country)

Having a disability can really put a damper on income. It is not uncommon for people to file for bankruptcy or lose their homes while waiting as long as two years for Social Security disability benefits to be approved. Even if everything is going your way and your initial application is approved, the wait time to actually receive a check can be six to seven months after the disability began. Although we are going to review some of the ways to obtain financial assistance in Atlanta, many of these same opportunities exist in other locations throughout our country.

 

First Things First

Many organizations receive assistance funds either yearly or quarterly. If you seek assistance at the end of December you will have a harder time being approved than waiting until January simply because many funds have dried up by late December. This also happens to a lesser extent by quarters throughout the year (March, June, September and December). Prior to putting in a fund application try to ask if the assistance account has adequate funding at this time or if you should wait a couple weeks (or a month) before placing your application. If the worker advises to return, make sure you are there as early as possible on the first day available as other people will be doing the same and you want your application filed first.

Be Prepared

You should always take several documents with you when completing an application for assistance. A driver’s license or other government issued identification is almost always required. In addition, take copies of all of your bills to prove your address and expenses. You may need to take a copy of your rental contract to prove rent cost as well as the name, phone number and address of your landlord so a check can be sent to them. Be sure you do not leave original documents with the workers as you will need them to apply at other locations too.

211

You should start your financial assistance quest by dialling “211” for a comprehensive list of assistance programs tailored to your specific needs. 211 is a community service provided by the United Way. In most communities, including in Atlanta, 211 is staffed twenty-four hours a day. The call is toll-free but you will use up minutes on your cell phone plan so try to call from a land-line in case it takes a while for everything to be explained.

Rent Assistance

Arguably one of the most expensive monthly bills we have is the house mortgage or rent payment. When people lose the roof over their head everything else in their lives can quickly spiral downward.

If you have already received an eviction notice proceed directly to the Salvation Army. Some Army offices have rental assistance funds out of which people facing immediate eviction receive the highest priority. (http://salvationarmyatlanta.org/financial-emergency-services)

Rent Assistance operates a national website of organizations that may help you make rent or mortgage payments. The Atlanta area list can be found here (http://www.rentassistance.us/ci/ga-atlanta) while the national list can be found here, http://www.rentassistance.us.

Utilities

Once again the Salvation Army comes to the rescue. In Atlanta, the Army has two programs, Project Share which works in conjunction with Georgia Power and Project Hope which requires a verifiable overwhelming event such as an illness, layoff or catastrophe. You may qualify for assistance under both programs.  Find your closest office by visiting http://salvationarmyatlanta.org/locations.

You can also visit the United Way website for a list of agencies and organizations that help with utility bills http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/MatchList.aspx?vid=2666;c;;0;;;0;534821;Financial%20Services/Assistance;Utility%20Bill%20Payment/Deposit%20Assistance;382;Electric%20Service%20Payment%20Assistance~.  

You can also contact Georgia Power directly to discuss your electric power bill. Visit https://www.georgiapower.com/residential/payment-options/bill-pay-assistance.cshtml to find out if you are eligible for one of the power company’s programs.

In General

As already mentioned, the United Way, through its 211 program, may be able to match you with organizations or charities that can assist you in a time of financial need. 

Another website that may be of help is www.suntopia.org. Once again, this is a national website, but an Atlanta-specific listing can be found at http://www.suntopia.org/atlanta/ga/utility_and_rental_assistance.php.

www.Financialhelpresources.com and www.needhelppayingbills.com list some of the same resources the other sites mentioned above list, but they also include a couple different ones that may help you too. When you are in financial distress you can never have too many sources!
http://www.financialhelpresources.com/city/atlanta-ga.html
http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/atlanta_rent_assistance.html   

Try, Try Again

Many agencies have strict rules on who qualifies for their assistance. Read or listen to criteria carefully. Don’t waste your time on programs you do not qualify for. You don’t have time to waste when creditors are knocking! However, just because you are turned down by one program or charity does not mean everyone will turn you away. Here’s where the old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” really takes on a life meaning. Don’t get discouraged by people saying, “No.” You should always move on to the next financial source and keep trying. 

 

 

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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers
Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.