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Government Programs for Low Income Seniors-Resources and How to Apply

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Living on a fixed income does not have to be hard, and seniors should not have to look for part-time employment after they’ve retired. Financial solutions for the elderly abound and are easier to apply for than ever.

Affordable housing programs exist to aid low income seniors. Federal subsidized housing solutions are available throughout the country. These solutions make it easy for seniors to find housing that works for them post-retirement

Reverse Mortgage Program

The reverse mortgage program is a government program that benefits elderly homeowners, specifically. Those who are over 62 and own a home are able to apply for the program, which in turn provides them with a monthly subsidy.

Guaranteed Monthly Payout

Providing applicants with a guaranteed monthly payout, the Reverse Mortgage Program is one of the best supplemental income programs for the elderly. The program does not function as a loan. Rather, applicants are under no requirements to pay the money back for as long as they continue to reside in their home. In addition, no interest is accrued.

A Government Incentive Program

The Reverse Mortgage Program is a government incentive to remain a homeowner. It is beneficial for those who already own homes. There are no strings attached, and those who already own homes will essentially see this as free money. What’s more, should the borrower experience an unexpected illness, they are able to stay in a nursing home for up to 12 months. If staying any longer, the reverse mortgage will need to be repaid.

Applying for a Reverse Mortgage

This is a government-run program, so applicants will have to meet with a certified government counselor. This will begin the reverse mortgage application process. The counselor will likely work for a government housing program and will be able to counsel the applicant. This is the time to ask any questions you may have. Make sure you get satisfactory answers before beginning the reverse mortgage application process. Application fees will be reviewed at this time. Additionally, the implications of possible repayment will be discussed should the loan requirements no longer be met.

Section 8 Housing Helps the Elderly

For those who are not homeowners and find themselves on a fixed income, there are federal programs that can provide relief. Section 8 housing helps the elderly subsidize their monthly rent payments.

Income Based Program

The housing voucher recipients are evaluated based on their income in comparison to the median income in their surrounding area. These vouchers do not excuse the recipient from paying anything. They are still required to pay about one-third of their rent without the voucher.

Housing Vouchers

Section 8 housing is a slightly more difficult program to get into than others due to the high need for housing among the low income elderly. Those applying may be put on a wait list that evaluates need and application wait-time. There are some high-priority categories that allow recipients to receive vouchers before others. If the applicants needs exceed that of others they may be moved up the list.

Applying for Section 8 Housing

If you are considering applying for Section 8 Housing Vouchers, you’ll likely want to apply as soon as possible due to the voucher’s high demand. Potential applicants should contact their State Office for the Aging in order to speak to a government representative. They will be able to tell you about your state’s application process. Your need for housing and qualifications will be assessed. The applicant will be given a rough estimate of when their application may be approved.


Medicaid is a health insurance program aimed specifically at providing the elderly with the health benefits and support they need. As we age, we find ourselves in need of more constant and comprehensive health care. If living on a fixed income, Medicaid is an option that will not break our budget.

Who Can Apply?

The elderly, as well as those with a low-income, are able to apply to Medicaid. If approved, expect to receive some degree of medical benefits as well as help paying for prescriptions. What’s more, Medicaid offers help to those in need of nursing home or in-home healthcare assistance. This makes it a good option for those with escalated health needs.

How Medicaid Works

Medicaid works differently state to state, but those who apply typically have a lower income. Depending on the state you live in, however, you may qualify for Medicaid if you “spend-down” your income. Essentially, if your medical expenses are so great that they require you to spend-down your income, you may still qualify for Medicaid. This is true even if you are in a higher income bracket.

Medicaid aims to relieve the financial strain caused by medical problems without punishing those experiencing them for their income, or lack thereof.

Applying For Medicaid

An important thing to keep in mind when applying for Medicaid is that the program will likely assess your assets while you are in the process of applying for care. Medicaid also takes into account any assets you have disposed of within the last five years. The program wants to make sure its assistance is given out to applicants who are truly in need.

Speak to a Representative

If you are worried your assets may disqualify you from being eligible for Medicaid, speak to a Medicaid representative. They can help you determine what your options are. It is best to speak to a representative upfront rather than receive a penalty down the line.

Your state of residence will have a Medicaid agency that can field any questions you may have and walk you through the application process.

Food Stamps

The food stamp program has been renamed SNAP. In order to qualify there are income and asset limits. Those that are age 60 or more qualify if you have no more than $3000 in assets. This includes your cash on hand and checking and savings accounts. In addition, if you have any investment accounts, these need to be disclosed.

Income Limits

There are strict income limits in place for food stamp benefits. Your best bet is to speak to a state agency to determine if you qualify. Basically, for a household size of one your net income should not exceed $908. For a 2 person household, the net limit is $1226. The benefit would be approximately $200-$367 in food.

Applying for Food Stamps

Although, a federal program, your state will assist you in applying. You can contact your local State Office for the Aging for assistance.

Home Energy Assistance

Fuel costs to heat your home can certainly break the budget and create financial hardship. There is a government resource to help the low income meet their heating needs. You may know it as HEAP. This is a cash grant program. It will pay for a portion of your heating costs.

How to Apply for HEAP

To apply for HEAP, contact your local State Office for the Aging. Each state will have its own criteria for eligibility. Income limits and assets will vary from state to state. Of course, with all government assistance you will need to present proof of you monthly income and assets you have on hand.