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Public assistance and government benefits from Virginia DSS.

Find how to get government benefits from the Virginia Department of Social Services, or DSS. Low income families will be able to get help from public assistance programs. Benefits range from EBT cards from SNAP food stamps to Medicaid medical care (Cardinal Care), free cash assistance and more. Learn how to apply for public assistance from Virginia DSS below, including by city and county.

The focus is on helping the low-income, unemployed, disabled and senior citizens among others. Residents can also get LIHEAP energy bill assistance, job placement and other social services. Most of the services focus on families with children (including single moms), disabled, and the elderly, but individuals can always explore the numerous options available to them.

Emergency financial help and grants from DSS government benefits

The State of Virginia Energy Bill Assistance (EA) will help low income families pay their utility, electric, and/or natural gas bills. Priority is given to households that pay a high proportion of their household income towards their home energy bills. Components of the program include the four following items.

  • Air conditioning and cooling bill assistance – When faced with extreme heat during the hot summer months, emergency financial assistance or air conditioners may be offered during the summer for paying high utility bills. Apply at your local Virginia department of social services department. Find free air conditioners from the government
  • Ongoing fuel assistance – This can help with paying for the cost of ongoing utility and heating bills.

Emergency/crisis assistance is also part of the Virginia Energy Assistance program. When a family has no other options or resources available to them, then this public assistance program can help when someone is faced with a disconnection of their utilities. The Virginia crisis assistance program was created to help deal with emergency situations, and it is funded by the federal government. When Fuel Assistance or other resources cannot meet your need then this program may offer a solution.

Some examples of emergencies that financial assistance may be paid out for include lack of heat or air conditioning, funds when utility cut-off is imminent, and unsafe or inoperable heating equipment. Types of Crisis Assistance grants may include: purchase of primary home heating fuel; payment of utility or electric security deposit; replacement of heating equipment; payment of primary heat utility bill; repair of heating equipment; and/or purchase of portable space heater.




There are other public aid programs for utility, heating, water and electric bills. Everything from grants to free conservation measures are offered. The goal is to prevent disconnections. Find financial aid and payment plans from Virginia utility companies.

Virginia Department of Social Services runs the Weatherization service. Low income families can get assistance with energy efficiency and air infiltration. DSS also helps with home repairs in Virginia, including partnerships with non-profits and charities. The goal is to help people save money on their utility bills by focusing on conservation or repairs. Locate charities that help with home repairs.

Public food assistance programs, including SNAP/EBT/TEFAP and WIC, are run by the Virginia Social Services Department. They issue free grants, vouchers, EBT cards and other tools.

  • The WIC program provides nutrition and safeguards the health of low-income infants, women, and children up to age 5.  The federal government funded program provides free or low cost nutritious foods to supplement diets, referrals to health care resources and public aid, and information on healthy eating.
  • Food Stamps (or SNAP) applications are processed by Virginia DSS too. Another service known as SNAP can be used like cash to buy eligible food items from authorized retailers. Vouchers are provided that the low income can use to obtain food, groceries, and meals.

Financial assistance is available at the local level from Virginia from General Relief (GR). This was created to provide financial assistance and cash grants, either maintenance or emergency funds, which cannot be provided through other means. The Virginia General Relief program may pay for dental or medical services, burial expenses, housing, gasoline cards, assistance for unattached children and interim assistance for other bills.

Auxiliary Grants is really an income supplement that can be used by lower income individuals who receive public support from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other blind, disabled, or aged individuals who reside in an approved adult foster care (AFC) home or a licensed assisted living facility (ALF). An AG payment is issued to the qualified individual each and every month, and it is to be used with a designated amount of their monthly income to pay an ALF or AFC a maximum monthly rate. This rate paid out will be determined by the Virginia General Assembly.





The federal government created the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-to-middle income working families and individuals. To qualify for this credit on your tax return, you must file a federal and state of Virginia income tax return. You need to file even if the IRS doesn't require filing income taxes for your income level. If you do qualify for the credit then will more than likely also be able to have your taxes filed for free.

Receive a free monthly cash payment from the public Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The money can pay for housing, gas for work, utility bills, clothes or child care and more. DSS helps low-income families with their basic needs.

Qualified working poor and low income families can receive a cash payment to meet their basic living expenses and bills. Case workers from the Virginia Department of Social Services can also help people find a job, gain new skills, and apply for other public assistance programs like WIC or food stamps. Apply for cash assistance in Virginia.

The Virginia Child Care Subsidy Program provides cash grants and financial assistance to eligible families to help them pay for the cost of their child care. There is also free daycare from DSS in Virginia. The child care is paid out so that individuals can attend education or training programs or work at a full time job. The Child Care Subsidy Program services are family-focused as well as child-centered and support the broader objective of strengthening families’ goals of obtaining economic self-sufficiency.

Services can provide quality free early childhood programs for their children. Participating families in the Virginia Department of Social Services may be able to select any legally operating child day care facility that is open to the public, even including approved home care that is eligible to participate in the subsidy program. More information on free daycare in Virginia.

Virginia public health care and medical assistance from VA Social Services

There are several Medical Bill Assistance and health care programs offered in Virginia, including Cardinal Care (which is the state’s version of Medicaid). Each of the health care programs covers different groups of people, even seniors, children, or teenagers. Each of the unique public programs also has different eligibility requirements. When you apply for emergency Medical Assistance in Virginia, you are screened for all possible programs based on your age, income, and other information including financial resources.

The indigent, poor, and Virginia families with no savings or assets can get funeral or cremation assistance.  The state as well as non-profits partner together to offer this service. Grants, volunteers, and other public assistance is used to provide this. Read more on getting help with funeral costs.

Children up to age five may benefit from Head Start. This is the national child development program for children who range in age from birth to age 5. The public program, which is run by the Virginia Department of Social Services, provides services to promote emotional development, academic, and can assist with social services for income-eligible families.





Head Start is a direct federal to local government program, including Virginia, program that is involved with serving low-income children. The assistance program promotes comprehensive education, parental involvement opportunities, health care, nutrition, dental, mental health, and social services.

Public aid and government assistance in Virginia counties, cities, and towns

Find a local Virginia DSS office below. Or the main office/intake phone number is (804) 726-7000 or try  (800) 552-3431.




Chesterfield County

Fairfax County


Henrico County

Loudoun County

Newport News


Prince William County


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