Low-Income Programs You Can Take Advantage of in 2024!

Blog | January 12th, 2024

The U.S. government tries to provide multiple benefits in the dynamic social welfare landscape. The support provided to low-income families in the United States is a valuable aspect of fostering inclusive and equitable communities.

As we enter 2024, government benefits and assistance programs undergo continuous evolution. These changes are meant to address the diverse needs of those facing economic challenges, including nutritional support, healthcare coverage, housing assistance, tax credits, and more. 

Let’s take a closer look at low-income programs for 2024, including new programs, changes to existing programs, and everything else you need to know.

Child Tax Credit Increase 2024

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The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a nonrefundable tax credit made to provide financial assistance to taxpayers with a child under 17.

This credit works by reducing the recipient’s tax bill and, in some cases, can eliminate tax liability. Additionally, certain taxpayers may qualify for a partial refund through the Additional Child Tax Credit.

The Child Tax Credit provides financial support to low-income taxpayers to help cover the additional expenses of raising a child. These benefits amount to $2,000 per qualifying dependent.

Adjustments for 2024

In 2024, the Child Tax Credit has been adjusted to account for inflation. The updated Child Tax Credit for 2024 will be raised by up to $1,700. These credits constitute a yearly investment of billions of dollars.

For the 2024 tax year, the refundable credit will increase to $1.7K, be disbursed to eligible taxpayers, and an extra $100 will be given to each qualifying child.

The government will distribute these Child Tax Credits (CTCs) according to federal guidelines administered by the IRS. When applying for the CTC, ensure the child meets the specified criteria.

How to Determine Eligibility for CTC

Determining eligibility for the CTC is typically a straightforward process. The requirements are the following:
  • The child must be under the age of 17 years.
  • The child must be the taxpayer’s son, daughter, stepchild, or any other close relation with a descendant of a grandchild.
  • The government will not provide more than half of its financial support during a year.
  • The low-income taxpayer needs to claim the child benefits on their tax return.
  • Recipients should refrain from filing a joint income tax return with their spouse/partner in a fiscal year.

The IRS also offers an Interactive Tax Assistant that helps determine eligibility.

Changes in SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers food benefits to qualifying low-income families. These benefits are distributed through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to augment grocery budgets and enable families to afford healthy food options.

On average, approximately 41.2 million Americans received SNAP benefits each month last year.

At the start of each fiscal year (October 1), the U.S. Department of Agriculture adjusts SNAP maximum allotments, deductions, and income eligibility criteria. These modifications are influenced by the cost of living, reflecting the amount required to sustain a basic standard of living.

Changes in Maximum SNAP Allotments for 2024

Maximum allotments for the 48 contiguous states, Washington, DC, Alaska, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have risen.

However, Hawaii is the sole location experiencing a reduction in the maximum allotment from the previous year. The maximum payment for a family of four in Hawaii has now decreased to $1,759.

How to Determine Eligibility for SNAP Assistance

The eligibility criteria for SNAP, including the qualifying income limit, differ across states. The federal government maintains a SNAP Eligibility website, although you might need to contact your state or county office for certain issues. 

It’s important to keep your information up-to-date with your state, as changes can potentially increase your benefits. The most common changes that can increase your benefits are the following:
  • You’ve recently experienced a loss of income
  • You’ve encountered a sudden increase in expenses, such as housing, child care, or child support costs
  • A member of your household is over 60 or disabled and has monthly medical expenses in excess of $35. 

Contact your state SNAP program if you’ve experienced any of these events. 

Updates in COLA

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is an annual revision to Social Security benefits designed to address inflationary changes.

The Social Security Administration increased payments by 3.2% to align with inflation this year. It translates to an average monthly increment of approximately $55 for the nearly 67 million Americans receiving benefits.

The average Social Security payment will see an uptick of approximately $55, rising from $1,705.79 in 2023 to $1,760.37 in 2024.

Taxable Maximum Changes

In January of each year, the government implements several adjustments based on the rise in average wages. Consequently, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, known as the taxable maximum, will increase to $168,600, up from $160,200.

Social Security initiates the notification process for individuals regarding their new benefit amount through mail.

Anyone with a Social Security account can also access their COLA notice online. Additionally, you can opt to receive text or email alerts for new messages, including your COLA notice, from that account.

How to Determine Eligibility for COLA Benefits

Only some people who applied for the COLA adjustment will receive it, and it is not guaranteed for all Social Security recipients either.

COLA adjustments are applicable only if you apply for retirement benefits after age 62. Specifically, these adjustments are granted for the years between your initial eligibility at 62 and the date you first file for benefits.

Additionally, you might not qualify for these adjustments if you claim Social Security immediately after turning 62.

Final Thoughts

Low-income programs in the United States serve as a critical lifeline for individuals and families grappling with economic challenges. They offer a spectrum of support to enhance their well-being. By staying up-to-date on these programs, and any changes they’re undergoing in 2024, you’ll have an easier time accessing the benefits they can provide.

Related: Living on Less: The Art of Frugality and Financial Freedom