Many grandparents caring for grandchildren struggle to meet the basic needs of their families. Fortunately there are a number of state and federal public benefits programs that can help out. You may be able to get special assistance if you or your grandchildren's parent has been in the military or if a parent is deceased. There are also tax credits that may help.
See also: GrandFamilies Resources.
To find out if you or your grandchildren qualify for public benefits, you can:
- Use AARP's Benefits QuickLINK tool to find out if you or your grandchild may qualify for 15 public benefits — 10 for adults and families and five for children. Simply answer a list of questions about your family income, assets and any help with finances you get now. The tool gives you a report listing the benefits you may qualify for and links to the application forms.
- Visit GrandFacts sheets for information about your state that includes contact information for your state agencies. The state agencies can help you find out whom to talk to in your county.
- Talk to a worker in your county who deals with public benefits. Different offices may handle the various public benefits. You can start with the social worker or counselor at your grandchild's school, or look for any of the following:
o Department of Social Services or Human Services
o Department of Children and Family Services or Youth Services
o Health Department
o Child Welfare Office
o Social Security Office
o Department of Aging
o Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC)
Can my grandchildren qualify for benefits based on their income only?
Yes, there are public benefits that are based only on your grandchildren's income. A child's income may include such things as a trust fund or child support payments. Cash help from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federal public benefit program, is available for families based on their household incomes, or for a child based only on his/her income (sometimes called a "child-only grant"). Other benefits your grandchild may qualify for include: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for children with disabilities; Medicaid health insurance, or your state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if your grandchildren don't qualify for Medicaid. The Benefits QuickLINK tool has every state's rules for such programs as TANF, CHIP, Medicaid, SSI and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) built-in, so you don't have to take the time to find out about all of those rules on your own.