Programs to Assist Low Income or No Income Families

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Low- and no-income families can receive assistance to help them pay for living necessities. As of 2011, most assistance programs offered to such families are partially funded by the federal government and administered by the states, which determine specific eligibility requirements and the amount of benefits given to eligible program participants. Assistance is primarily determined by a household’s annual income. Individuals seeking help must fill out an application and submit the required documentation before receiving financial assistance.

Energy Assistance

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides energy assistance -- in the form of bill payment, energy crisis and weatherization aid -- to eligible low-income households to help them pay their home energy costs. LIHEAP is a federal program mandated by the states, which determine specific eligibility requirements. Households must meet the income guidelines established by the states to qualify for assistance.

Medical Assistance

The Medicaid program is available to families that cannot afford health insurance. Medicaid eligibility is determined by a household’s income. Each state determines the specific eligibility requirements for the state’s Medicaid program. Payments are not made to the individual but to the participant’s healthcare provider. Basic services covered by Medicaid include inpatient and outpatient hospital care, physician’s services, pediatric and nurse practitioner services, laboratory and x-ray services, prenatal care and home health care. States have the option of including additional services in their Medicaid programs.

Rental Assistance

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides rental assistance to eligible low income households. Payments are made directly to landlords. Participants are able to select single-family housing from a list of HUD-approved homes and apartments. HUD participants may also live in public housing units.


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides financial assistance and job training to low-income families. TANF focuses on providing financial assistance so parents are able to take care of their kids. The program also promotes job preparation, two-family households, and marriage. TANF eligibility requirements are established by the states. Individuals seeking assistance must complete and application and submit the required documentation.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Supplemental Security Income program was designed to assist low income individuals that are aged, blind, or disabled. SSI provides monthly cash benefits to eligible clients. Individuals are required to have low income and few resources to qualify for assistance. Resources include cash, checking and savings accounts, land, vehicles, and stocks and bonds. The maximum amount for an adult with a child is $2,000 and $3,000 for a couple.