Jason’s family was having a difficult time making ends meet. Up until a month ago, he could financially support his wife Sarah and daughter through his job as a cashier at a local grocery store. Then the grocery store laid some people off and Jason lost his job.

Jason and Sarah didn’t have much money in savings. They realized that they were going to have trouble paying for rent, food, and utilities. They decided to apply for help from the state of Arizona until they could get back on their feet. Jason went to his DES/Family Assistance Administration office and filled out an application for Cash Assistance (CA). Jason had a disability, so he also applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at his local Social Security office. However, Social Security said that his disability didn’t meet their definition of disability because he could still work, so he didn’t qualify to get an SSI benefit.

The next week, Jason went back to his DES/Family Assistance Administration office for an eligibility interview for Cash Assistance. He brought all of his bank statements and proof of the things he owned. Six weeks later, Jason and his family were approved for CA. Since they didn’t have any income, they were approved for the maximum benefit for a family of three, $278 a month.

As part of the CA program, both Jason and Sarah met with an employment counselor to come up with a plan to get them jobs. Sarah needed just a few more classes to complete her training as an x-ray technician, but had put those plans on hold when they had their child. Her employment plan included finishing those credits and then searching for a job. Jason’s plan was a little different because of his disability. He thought that maybe he could work from home doing customer service over the phone. His employment plan included a one-week customer service training program and a job search as well.

Jason and Sarah had two concerns about working that they decided to ask their employment counselor about.

“Ok, so I’d love to go back to school,” Sarah said, “but what about my little girl? I can’t afford to pay someone to keep her.”

“You’re on Cash Assistance now,” responded the employment counselor, “you can get help paying for child care. Just ask your case worker about DES child care. They’ll tell you how to apply.”

“Excellent!” said Sarah. “That solves that problem.”

“But,” added Jason, “what about once one of starts working, won’t our benefits go down? Won’t we be even more broke then?”

“Not necessarily,” said the employment counselor, “that depends on a lot of factors. But remember that however much money you make, more than 30% of it is exempted from being counted as income. So you’ll still be eligible for benefits until you get back on track. Plus you’ll be making even more money than just being on Cash Assistance alone.”

Jason and Sarah left the meeting with the employment counselor feeling like things were looking up. With a little help, they’d be back on their feet soon enough.