Stay-at-home mothers have a critical and gratifying job; raising their children to be responsible, caring, empathetic adults.
However, suppose you want extra cash to support your family, start a business, return to college, or become self-sufficient. In that case, it could prove challenging to find government benefits and grants earmarked exclusively for homemakers.
Instead of searching for clear, apparent labels, cast a wider net and sort through an array of financial assistance programs that connect with another aspect of your identity.
The SAHM community finds relevant opportunities every day, and so can you if you know where to look and how to find crossing points.
Government Money for Stay at Home Moms
Stay-at-home mothers can receive government money indirectly through a wide swath of benefits provided they pay close attention to details and have the patience to complete plenty of lengthy paperwork.
- Government Money for Stay at Home Moms
- Grants for Stay at Home Mothers
Stay-at-home moms and their family members can sometimes qualify for government money under an alias: Internal Revenue Service refundable tax credits.
The IRS might provide free money for personal use that you do not have to repay if you qualify under any of these programs.
- Child Tax Credit
- Earned Income Tax Credit
- American Opportunity Tax Credit
- Premium Tax Credit
The Social Security Act gave birth to ten different programs, and sometimes stay-at-home mothers meet the qualifications for benefits – and other times not. Research the criteria and rules for each of these initiatives to see if you are eligible.
Once again, finding the points of intersection is the key to unlocking helpful resources.
Many broad-based government assistance programs make up the hidden component of the Social Security safety net. Single-income SAHM families often meet the federal poverty guidelines because they have only one wage earner.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Food and Nutrition Assistance
- Food Stamps
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Housing Assistance
- National School Lunch Program
- School Breakfast Program
Temporary disability insurance falls under the Social Security umbrella, but each state must decide whether to support the benefit. At the publication date, only seven have an active program.
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington State
However, most homemakers will not qualify to file a claim as each program calculates benefits based on earnings from employment during a retroactive base period of twelve to eighteen months.
Workers Compensation covers occupational incidents exclusively, which rules out any women that do not work as an employee.
Homemakers could receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if they worked long enough, paid sufficient FICA taxes, and have a permanent impairment lasting at least one year.
- Disabled Widow’s Benefit if over the age of 50
- Mother and Father Benefit is caring for a child of your deceased spouse
Unemployment compensation is a Social Security benefit for employees laid off from work. Most homemakers do not qualify because they do not earn wages from an employer that subtracts the state insurance premium from their payroll.
However, homemakers who supplement their family income through a side hustle (freelancing, self-employment, independent contracting, and other at-home endeavors) could collect Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The CARES Act extended PUA benefits to gig workers unable to earn money due to Covid-19 until December 31, 2020, and the Biden administration extended the program to September 5, 2021.
Given the uncertainty of the Delta and Omicron variants, we could see PUA payments return. Stay tuned.
Homemakers are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits once they reach age sixty-two if they worked long enough and paid FICA taxes. Of course, the amount you receive will be reduced if you do not wait until full retirement age.
SAHM senior citizens who never worked outside the home can collect widow’s benefits after age sixty based on their deceased husband’s work history.
Government support programs for specific groups also fall into the Social Security safety net. Homemakers who intersect with any of these communities should look into these options.
- Veterans Benefits
- Government Employee Retirement Systems
- Railroad Retirement
The federal government often provides benefits in the form of subsidies to stay-at-home mothers to help them afford health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses – even if her husband’s employer offers conforming job-based coverage.
Under the Affordable Care Act, many employers must offer a single plan to employees that costs no more than 9.78% of household income. However, the cost containment does not apply to dependent coverage: spouses and children.
Therefore, homemakers can purchase individual health insurance for themselves and or their children on the state marketplace and still possibly qualify for two income-based subsidies.
- Premium tax credits
- Cost-sharing reductions
Grants for Stay at Home Mothers
The federal government does not provide grants to any individual, including stay-at-home mothers. Instead, the funding flows to state agencies, universities, and charitable organizations to foster a public service or stimulate the economy.
However, homemakers can take advantage of this free government money by finding areas of intersection, such as when starting a business or returning to college to sharpen skills for re-entry to the workforce.
You need patience.
Personal loans can provide emergency cash while you hunt around for possible grants. Stay-at-home mothers can win approval by demonstrating sufficient income to handle monthly payments and enough history on a consumer report to have a good credit score.
These two critical underwriting elements can come from you or your spouse.
- Earnings from a side hustle such as freelancing enable a mother to apply under her name. If so, the history from her consumer report would generate the credit score used to make a lending decision.
- Wages brought in by your spouse then require pairing data from his credit report to generate a score. Of course, the loan would be in his name rather than the mother’s.
Use the personal loan to fund urgent needs or infuse a startup business with capital – assuming you cannot find a grant – which is very common.
Starting a Business
Stay at home mothers looking to start a business can research grant opportunities targeting female entrepreneurs. However, begin with a realistic expectation of what you might find. Moms trying to get a brand new enterprise off the ground while caring for children simultaneously face numerous obstacles.
- Demand exceeds the financial capacity to fund most requests
- Capital is more accessible after your endeavor is up and running
- Foundations favor women who can devote themselves full-time
Below is a sample of places worth exploring, with the above caveats.
- The Small Business Administration helps female entrepreneurs by connecting them with training and funding opportunities.
- The Girlboss Foundation supports ladies in the fashion, design, music, and arts industries.
- IFundWomen is a marketplace that facilitates access to capital, coaching, and connections
- Digital Undivided makes micro-investments in Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs
- Cartier Women’s Initiative empowers entrepreneurs who aim to have a solid and sustainable social or environmental impact
Back to School
Private and government grants for stay-at-home mothers returning to school require you to identify points of intersection. Few, if any, opportunities exist exclusively for the SAHM community.
Federal Student Aid
A small expected family contribution is the key to qualifying for student aid from the federal government. Therefore, eligibility for housewives hinges on two FASFA questions that affect the equation in opposite ways.
- Negative: marital status includes your husband’s income and household assets (question 16)
- Positive: number of family members counts any person you support 50% or more (question 93)
- Children – even if they don’t live with you
- Non-relatives residing in the same home
Your FAFSA answers to these two questions help determine expected family contribution, which keys your eligibility for these government-supported back-to-school benefits.
- Pell Grants for household income below $30,000
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)
Federal and non-profit organizations target financial help for active-duty military, retired personnel, and family members. Therefore, SAHMs who are veterans can tap into many of these college funding resources and others.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
- VA Education Benefits for Dependents and Survivors (Chapter 35)
- Hap Arnold Grant for Air Force families, reservists, and dependents
- Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP)
- Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)
Scholarships for Women
Homemakers seeking to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields can find many scholarships set aside for women since females are under-represented in these industries. Also, future nurses often find helpful resources.
Online databases can help you find scholarship opportunities that match your goals, skills, and situation.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Student loan forgiveness will be more challenging to accomplish because a SAHM often does not meet the work-related requirements for many of these programs. Only a handful of these opportunities do not tie eligibility to employment or volunteer service.
- Closed School Discharge
- Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
- Discharge in Bankruptcy
- Borrower Defense to Repayment
- False Certification Discharge
- Unpaid Refund Discharge