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Your Guide to Public Benefits

Learn about federal and state financial assistance for seniors


AARP Foundation is here for everyone age 50 and older who is struggling with problems of hunger, isolation, income or housing. We'll connect you to resources you may not even know are out there, and we're working side by side with trusted organizations in your community and nationwide to help you take control, move forward and feel like a good provider again.


Here we've listed federal public benefits for housing, food, health care and income. Please note: This information is current as of March 8, 2012. The income guidelines, eligibility requirements and telephone numbers are subject to change. For state benefits information, scroll down and download a public benefits guide for your state. 


Help with Your Home


Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)


Benefit: Pays heating and cooling bills, and some energy-related home repairs.

Who can apply: People with limited income. For your state's specific annual income qualifications, visit the Benefits QuickLINK website and click "Help in My State."

How to apply: This varies by location. Please go to Benefits QuickLINK and do a benefits screening.

Telephone Assistance


Benefit: Helps pay for the cost of basic local telephone services.

Who can apply: Qualified low-income older adults. You are automatically eligible if you are in one of the following programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Housing Assistance/Section 8 Programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance, and Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

How to apply: Call your local phone company and tell the sales department that you want to apply for Link Up or Lifeline.

Help Buying Nutritious Food

SNAP Program

Benefit: An Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card, that you can use like cash to pay for food at most grocery stores. Use this USDA map to find retailers near you that accept EBT cards.


Who can apply: People with limited income and resources, especially people 60 and over.


How to apply: Visit Benefits QuickLINK to get an application.


Next: Health care assistance and Social Security. >>


Use the navigational menu to learn more about the tools and resources that will help low-income Americans age 50 and over regain control of their financial stability.

Programs & Services

AARP Tax Aide

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

This program offers free assistance with tax-return preparation. Go

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AARP Benefits QuickLink

See if you qualify for public assistance and you can save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, and more! Go

AARP Foundation Finances 50+

Finances 50+

This financial capability program is a collaboration between AARP Foundation and Charles Schwab Foundation. Go

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Housing Solutions Center

This program offers free HUD-certified counseling and assistance to 50-plus homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure. Go

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Back to Work 50+

We are partnering with workforce services providers to strengthen the bridge between 50+ job candidates and respected employers. Read

Income in the

Are Boomers Confident About Retirement Saving? Survey Says No.

(Marketwatch, April 2) - A new survey by the Insured Retirement Institute notes a marked drop in the last two years in boomers' confidence that they are saving enough for retirement. Read

Older Americans Adding to Debt to Help Relatives

(Marketplace, March 27) - Recent studies indicate that 50+ Americans now carry more credit card debt than those under 50, the first time for such a swing. And a good portion of that debt comes from older Americans helping out struggling relatives. Read

Challenges Face Those Who Want to Continue Working

(Huffington Post, March 21) - In her most recent blog, Sara Rix, senior strategic policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy Institute, notes that although many older Americans want to keep working, challenges such as ill health, job loss and caregiving responsibilities often still stand in the way; however, ongoing improvements in employment options continue to make "working close to forever" highly appealing. Read