Quarterly eNewsletter About the Benefits.gov Program
January 2018
In This Issue

As we kick off 2018, we offer you the January edition of the Benefits.gov Compass. In this edition, we look forward to sharing key benefit information and resources for your employment needs, health assistance, and educational support this season.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 6.5 million people unemployed in the U.S. Whether you recently lost a job, a disability has prevented you from working, or you are trying to enter or re-enter the workforce, there are a variety of benefit and assistance programs available to help.

During the month of January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month. Observed since 1970, the goal of National Blood Donor Month is to increase blood and platelet donations during winter, one of the most difficult times of year to collect blood products.

As the New Year begins, America celebrates and honors a culture that is engrained in the foundations of our country. Beginning with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 15, we memorialized a man whose activism and involvement in the civil rights movement transformed the rights and lives of black Americans across the U.S.

This year, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is observed February 26 through March 4. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime in the U.S.

This March, we celebrate National Read Across America Day in schools across the U.S. This observance was established in 1997 to both dedicate a day to reading a great book and to honor the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2.

A Message from Al Sloane and Myung...
A Message from Al Sloane and Myung Moon, Program Directors

Welcome to another exciting New Year! As we kick off 2018, we offer you the January edition of the Benefits.gov Compass. In this edition, we look forward to sharing key benefit information and resources for your employment needs, health assistance, and educational support this season. We offer this information from across 17 Federal Agency Partners to help you on your path to government benefits.

As always, we welcome your input - please share your feedback with us. To learn how to use our site’s main tool, the Benefit Finder, watch this quick video tutorial before getting started. We also hope you "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

- Al Sloane & Myung Moon, Benefits.gov Program Directors

Out of Work? Consider These Five...
Out of Work? Consider These Five Resources for Assistance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 6.5 million people unemployed in the U.S. Whether you recently lost a job, a disability has prevented you from working, or you are trying to enter or re-enter the workforce, there are a variety of benefit and assistance programs available to help. Benefits.gov has information on over 1,200 programs, some of which are highlighted below, that support citizens currently out of work.

  • American Job Centers offer a range of free services to job seekers including training, career planning, and connections to job openings and local hiring events. The Job Centers are convenient to reach with nearly 2,500 locations throughout the U. S.
  • Are you out of work due to a recent major disaster and looking for relief? You might qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance if you are unemployed because of the disaster. Your State Unemployment Insurance agency will have information on availability of assistance and instructions for applying.
  • The Job Accommodation Network provides guidance on disability employment issues and identifies resources for people with disabilities to help secure a job. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) also provides information on how to check eligibility and apply for disability benefits.
  • Unemployment Insurance is operated in each state and provides benefits to citizens unemployed through no fault of their own. Find information for your state and check your eligibility through the Career One Stop Service Locator.
  • Job Corps, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), provides skills training and services, such as career counseling, room and board, and basic medical care, to help young people find meaningful employment. If you are between the ages of 16 and 24 and meet low-income requirements, you may be eligible to enroll in the program.

Don’t overlook the resources available to you during this time in your life. There are numerous agencies and programs that can provide help and guidance depending on your situation. We encourage you to visit Benefits.gov and take our Benefit Finder questionnaire to help locate additional assistance you may be eligible to receive. 

Roll Up a Sleeve and Save a Life
Roll Up a Sleeve and Save a Life

During the month of January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month. Observed since 1970, the goal of National Blood Donor Month is to increase blood and platelet donations during winter, one of the most difficult times of year to collect blood products.

Blood that is donated can be used for women with pregnancy complications, before, during or after childbirth, children with severe anemia, and people who experience physical trauma following man-made and natural disasters, to name a few.

By taking just an hour out of your day, rolling up your sleeve and donating blood, you can save a life. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Blood donation appointments are quick and easy to make. They can be made by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App on your mobile device, visiting Redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or to receive more information.

Some of the donor qualifications include:

  • A blood donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in
  • Must be 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states)
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds

You can save time at your next donation by using RapidPass to complete pre-donation reading and the health history questionnaire online, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To learn more, visit Redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

As a donor, you'll never know the lives that you have touched by donating, but be proud of your contribution and know that it is greatly appreciated. This season, we encourage you to roll up a sleeve and save a life.

MLK’s Lasting Impact
MLK’s Lasting Impact

As the New Year begins, America celebrates and honors a culture that is engrained in the foundations of our country. Beginning with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 15, we memorialized a man whose activism and involvement in the civil rights movement transformed the rights and lives of black Americans across the U.S. Without Dr. King, the civil rights movement would not have led to the dramatic transformation of laws and benefits designed to provide equal treatment to black Americans. These laws include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and many more. Additionally, in February, we observe Black History Month, which celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans.

Through Benefits.gov, many Government agencies offer programs to support black Americans. Some programs exist to protect minority groups from discrimination or disadvantages that may occur in the workplace, at school, or through other institutions. Other programs exist to support the advancement of African Americans to further their opportunities and growth.

For college-bound residents of Washington, D.C., the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant provides grants to students with out-of-state tuition. There is a series of eligibility criteria that determines who can apply for the program, including U.S. citizenship, D.C. residency, academic standing, and others. Students are encouraged to visit Benefits.gov if they are interested in applying.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a Fair Housing Initiatives Program – Private Enforcement Initiative to ensure that organizations develop, implement, or coordinate programs or activities to obtain enforcement of the rights granted by the Fair Housing Act or by equivalent state and local fair housing law. This program exists so that minorities do not experience discrimination when searching for housing or buying a home.

Along with the programs discussed above, we invite you to learn more about assistance programs and other initiatives for equal opportunities on the Benefits.gov Housing category or at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Mental Health Series: Eating...
Mental Health Series: Eating Disorders Awareness

This year, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is observed February 26 through March 4. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime in the U.S.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating. The NIH suggests keeping an eye out for the following signs and symptoms in anyone who may be dealing with one of these disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Extremely restricted eating 
  • Extreme thinness
  • Intense fear of weight gain 

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Periods of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting or excessive use of laxatives (purging), excessive exercise, and/or fasting
  • Severe dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance 

Binge-Eating

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food without purging, excessive exercising, or fasting
  • Eating quickly during binges 
  • Having feelings of guilt or shame about your eating

If you suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you know about the many treatment options available. Treatment can be administered by various professionals including a physician, a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, or a dietician. Treatment centers and other resources can often be covered by Medicaid and Medicare, depending on your circumstances and eligibility. We encourage you to take our Benefit Finder questionnaire to find out which benefits you may be eligible for.

Without treatment, eating disorders can have serious long-term effects, and even lead to death. The two most common causes of death for people with eating disorders are heart failure and suicide. 

Benefits.gov understands the enormous challenges faced by those with eating disorders and their loved ones and realizes it can be hard to seek help.

If you or a loved one is at risk for suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you or a loved one have an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline for support, resources, and to hear about treatment options at 1-800-931-2237, Monday through Friday. You can also text “NEDA” to 741741 if you are experiencing a crisis to be contacted by a trained volunteer or visit the National Eating Disorders Association website to chat with a trained volunteer online.

Read, Learn, and Grow
Read, Learn, and Grow

This March, we celebrate National Read Across America Day in schools across the U.S. This observance was established in 1997 to both dedicate a day to reading a great book and to honor the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2. Reading is a key part of any child’s early education, and the more access children or anyone have to a selection of books, the greater their ability to venture into timeless stories and educational journeys.

At Benefits.gov, we want to make sure citizens find the educational resources they need for their children and their loved ones. For children looking to gain access to books or a better education in general, they can find information about the following resources listed below:

Access to books and information is important not only to children, but also to those with physical disabilities and limitations. For this reason, the Library of Congress offers a Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. This online library is a free service for anyone seeking access to books who has a disability preventing them from reading.

Benefits.gov recently partnered with the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to highlight some key resources available to citizens. The FDLP aims to provide free access to Federal Government information. These Federal libraries and librarians work diligently to give as much information to the public as possible, which includes information on careers, business opportunities, consumer information, health and nutrition, legal and regulatory information, demographics, and more.

For more resources for your children or your general education, please visit the Education/​Training and Child Care/​Child Support categories on Benefits.gov.

In This Issue
A Message from Al Sloane and Myung...
Out of Work? Consider These Five...
Roll Up a Sleeve and Save a Life
MLK’s Lasting Impact
Mental Health Series: Eating...
Read, Learn, and Grow
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