How Government Assistance Programs Help Me as a Single Parent

Keara Engle avatar

by Keara Engle |

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Prior to giving birth to my now 3-year-old son, Cayden, I was working part time at a local fast-food restaurant. But when Cayden was born and we discovered he has infantile-onset Pompe disease, working was no longer an option. 

As a single parent, I am the only one available to take care of Cayden and his round-the-clock needs. This was a big commitment, but I was willing to take it on. 

Because I could no longer work, I had to figure out a way to get money somehow. I was struggling financially and burning through all of the money I had saved from my part-time job. Being in the hospital isn’t cheap. Bills from everyday life don’t stop, but most of the time, income does. 

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During the first few months of Cayden’s life, I looked into the different government assistance programs available. One of the first programs I applied for was Supplemental Security Income. This is a federal program that provides financial help to people 65 and older who qualify, or those of any age who are blind or have a disability. 

Another helpful program we joined was Medicaid. This program is available for low-income families, including people with a disability who qualify. In the United States, health insurance can be extremely costly and sometimes hard to get. Some employers, but not all, offer employee health benefits. 

Because I was unemployed and Cayden didn’t have health insurance, I decided to apply for medical assistance. It covers the cost of almost everything he needs health-wise. That includes inpatient hospital stays, outpatient specialist appointments, dental work, bloodwork, medications, and more.

The last program we’ve been fortunate enough to enroll in is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Our state offers this program to low-income households to provide families with money for food. SNAP recipients can buy anything at the grocery store that is not already prepared or hot. The program also helps families with babies by covering the cost of formula and baby food. 

Sometimes a stigma is associated with government assistance programs, but I truly believe they are great programs when used correctly. 

Many parents of children with a rare disease or special needs are no longer able to work. As much as we may want to, our children need us more. These programs really come in handy at times when one may need some financial help, and I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to utilize them.

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Note: Pompe Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pompe Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Pompe disease.

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