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Public assistance and government benefits.

Find public assistance programs that are part of local and federal government benefits. Low-income families, the unemployed and people living in poverty can get help from these social services. The assistance from government benefit programs ranges from low-income energy assistance to food, child care, medical, short term cash assistance and more. Get details on the main government assistance programs, including in your state.

The goal of a public assistance program is always to address the immediate crisis while helping families get long term stability. Social or Human Service offices in your community take applications to these government programs. While the federal government does offer their own programs, some are operated in partnership with states or local communities and therefore the names may change.

Cash assistance benefits

Senior citizens, ranging from age from 60 to 65, have various public assistance programs focused on their needs. Older adults will be able to apply for free money from the federal government. There are several benefits, public aid programs, and social services that will help older people get the cash they need to pay their bills or address other needs. Learn more on senior free money programs from the government.

Government assistance is offered for the disabled. Individuals with a short or long term disability can receive financial help from several government benefits. Some form of compensation, including free grants may be provided from SSDI or SSI. There is also FMLA for short term disability, from both the government and local non-profits that partner with social services. Get applications for disability assistance.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is run at the state level. It will provide free government cash to low-income families and people living in (or near poverty) that have kids. Funds can be used to pay for basic living expenses such as food, rent, utilities, housing, transportation, and medications. Local Department of Human Services (DHS) offices process applications for this government benefit.  Get information on how to apply for cash assistance from TANF.




  • The federal government may issue loans to some families as part of their public assistance. Funds may help the disabled while they wait on a SSI check, support senior citizens before they receive social security retirement funds, or help pay for other bills such as home or car repairs. A number of agencies can be involved in providing government loans.
  • Other government assistance in the form of grant money is for the disabled, elderly, singe moms, or the homeless among others. There are a wide variety of local as well as national programs that can be applied too. Learn more on free government money for the low-income.
  • Learn about the appeal process of government benefits. Families that are denied access to public assistance from the federal or state social services can get help in appealing the decision. Lawyers or advocates can assist low income families as they try to receive the cash aid, food stamps, housing, or other benefits that they are entitled to. Find help with public assistance denials.

Public assistance programs for single mothers is an option. The federal government has benefits that help parents, with a focus on single moms, that have no money. A wide variety of social services, government grants, hunger prevention as well as housing programs are offered. A major focus is on ensuring the kids have a health and safe environment to reside in. More on public assistance for single mothers.

Child and free government subsidized day care helps low-income parents. The federal government provides grants to each state and those funds are disbursed by local social service offices.  The public assistance is for low income, working parents, single mothers or those in school or job training who meet the qualifications. Most states do have a waiting list for the free government day care vouchers or cheap child care providers. Find government assistance for child care.





  • The Early Head Start program (which is for infants and pregnant women) as well as Head Start (for children up to age 5) can help children prepare for school. The government provides other social services at the same time such as comprehensive educational, nutritional, food, free dental, and health care. After school child care can also be provided as well in some states. Get more information on Head Start programs.

Government funded job training programs are offered in all states and most local communities. Social service offices will often require that beneficiaries in any public or government assistance programs be actively seeking employment. There are DOL (Department of Labor) programs, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, CareerOneStop and others. Dial 1-877-872-5627, or look here for free government job training.

Free income tax filing programs are offered by the federal government and local social service offices. Those who can’t afford to file their returns can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) benefit. It offers free advice and income tax preparation help to low income individuals and senior citizens. People can also E-file their state and federal income taxes for free in many states. Learn more on filing for income tax help.Government and public assistance

Food programs

SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps low-income families pay for groceries. The federal government resource is also commonly called food stamps, however some states will call SNAP a different name. Participants will be provided an EBT card that is used at local stores to help pay for the groceries they need. More on SNAP food stamps.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program helps feed seniors and very young children. The United States Department of Agriculture offers this benefit. The government will provide free staple foods including cheese, milk, dairy, bread, meat, groceries, produce and similar goods. The program, often called CSFP, will also help mothers up to one year postpartum. Learn more about Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Emergency Food Assistance Program from the government is run in partnership with local non-profits. Distribution takes places at social service offices or pantries. Low-income individuals can receive free food including canned goods, a bag of groceries, or hot, healthy meals. Read more on TEFAP emergency food.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) from the USDA will provide free supplemental food to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Or the government assistance program will provide baby free formula or milk to infants or children under 5 years of age. There will be Enfamil, Gerber, and other nutritious food or infant formula from the WIC benefit. The federal government will provide vouchers or checks as part of Women, Infants and Children.




Energy bill help

The federal government LIHEAP, or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is available in all states. Government grant money will help low income families, the elderly and disabled pay utility bills. LIHEAP, which can be called different names, can help pay heating bills, cooling expenses, and a crisis component can prevent a disconnection. Find how to apply for LIHEAP energy assistance.

Weatherization is a government benefit that will help low-income families, and people with older homes, reduce their home heating or electric bills. There are free home repairs, insulation, windows, HVAC tune ups and other benefits. The enhancements to a residence can also address some minor health and safety needs of a home. Learn more on the weatherization program.

Discounted or free government phone or internet programs is a federal government program that helps families pay phone or home internet bills, with a focus on cellular units. There are two main services available. Some public assistance programs will even give out a free phone to a senior or low-income family. The benefits from them vary, but the options are as follows.

  • There are free cell phone programs for people already on public aid. Families that are currently receiving benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid, section 8 or LIHEAP for their energy bills, will often automatically qualify for a free government phone.
  • States also offer discounts on monthly service charges or deposits to establish service. These public assistance programs vary by state but will help households save money. Find how to get assistance for paying phone bills.
  • The FCC, working with cell phone and cable companies, offers families who receive public assistance free or low cost computers and Internet service. The goal it to help students and adults get Internet access for school, job training, work, and other needs. Find details on applying for discounted internet service from the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Public housing benefit programs

Section 8 housing choice vouchers are the primary benefit. Rental assistance and government subsidized public housing is available to very low-income families. It is administered at the county level by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) or a state’s equivalent. The program allows many people the ability to afford safe, decent, and sanitary homes to live in, including private landlord rented apartments, townhomes and single family houses. Continue with HUD section 8 vouchers.







HUD housing counseling is available too from government agencies. Free or low cost consultations are certified by the federal government to help with a wide variety of needs. Renters and homeowners can get support, including applications to help get mortgage relief, money for buying a home, and rent help. The process also helps with defaults, credit counseling issues and reverse mortgages. Locate government HUD organization.

Government health care benefits

Medicaid insurance is a federal and state government program. Health care, insurance and medical benefits are offered to low-income families who either have inadequate medical insurance or completely lack coverage. While the federal government sets some guidelines and regulations on this public benefit, local state administers Medicaid and determines eligibility conditions. Find a listing of free health and dental care programs.

  • Free stuff for people on Medicaid is available from the government. There are several organizations, non-profits, and social service offices that provide free items. It ranges from transportation for Medicaid patients to grant money, infant cribs, tablets or smartphones, medical equipment and more. Learn how families on Medicaid will get free stuff.
  • CHIP Benefits (State Children's Health Insurance Program) is public health care coverage to children whose parents lack adequate medical insurance. It is offered for families whose income is too high for Medicaid, but who still can’t afford to pay their medical bills, get dental care or access private health insurance. Learn more on CHIP health insurance.

Medicare from the government is the primary health insurance benefit program for seniors and the disabled.  Most people over the age of 62 enroll into this benefit. It is a low cost insurance program that helps provide medical care to older adults and the disabled. Call 1-800-633-4227.

  • Prescription drug coverage is available for certain Medicare beneficiaries. There are insurance programs from the government or private health insurance companies (including Private Fee-for-Service Plans PFFS) that help lower the costs of prescription medications. Consumers have the ability to select their plan based on the monthly premium and benefits offered.  There will be vouchers, coupons, and public assistance. Locate free prescription programs.

Government funded dental clinics help people on Medicaid or Medicare (as well as the uninsured) can the care they need. There are free clinics in most counties that rely on government grants to operate. As a result, they provide free dental care, oral surgery, teeth replacement and other services to low to moderate income families and those with no insurance. Locate a free government dental clinic.




Government programs that offer funeral, burial and cremation help are often part of local social service benefits- Many state and local government provide this, for free, to the very-low income, families with no money or life insurance or indigent. The families of the homeless also can get help too to try to ensure each person is cremated and/or buried in a human way. Locate funeral or cremation assistance.

Government benefits and public assistance near you by state

There are Social (or Human) Service offices in each state, as noted below. The names of the places to apply vary but can be DHS or others. Staff from each office can go over the details of the local public assistance programs that may near you as well as any regional or federal government benefits.



























New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota






West Virginia


Conclusion - List of public aid and government benefits

Every state, city, as well as county offers some form of public assistance or government benefits to low income families. There are programs aimed at helping people who live in poverty or households facing a short or even long term crisis. More information on the public assistance programs near you can be found by contacting and applying at a state social or human service office.  Read more on public benefit aid in US.


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