The Ultimate Guide to Government Aid for Seniors

Stephen Roth |

By 2060, the United States will have approximately 98 million adults aged 65 and older — nearly 25% of the entire population. “Many of those adults will live on fixed incomes or encounter difficulties paying for housing, food, utilities and other basic necessities, especially those with high medical expenses due to chronic health conditions,” explains Marc Levesque, Resource Coordinator at Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging.

Fortunately, the federal government provides entitlement programs designed to help seniors maintain their independence and dignity as they age in the community of their choice. If you need help covering your living expenses or supplementing your retirement income, you may qualify for one of these programs. 

This guide includes a detailed program listing, along with eligibility requirements and contact information, to help you access the resources you need. It’s important to know that federal programs may be administered differently in each state, so financial thresholds may differ depending on where you reside. Always check with your state organization for each type of assistance for additional requirements your state may need.

Government Housing Assistance

On September 30, 2020, The New York Times published an article calling homelessness among seniors “America’s next housing crisis.” Writing for Health Affairs, Bryan Byrd explains, “Some [homeless seniors] have spent their lives working low wage, often manual-labor jobs —and they cannot afford ever-increasing rents as their bodies age and can no longer sustain the lifting and bending required by the low-wage job market.”

In addition to putting individual seniors at risk, homelessness drives up health care costs, making it even more difficult for Americans to pay for basic necessities. Fortunately, several federal programs can help seniors remain in their homes, reducing the risk of comorbidities associated with homelessness.

Section 504 Home Repair Program

For seniors living in unsafe conditions, the Section 504 Home Repair program provides up to $10,000 in grant funding to eliminate health and safety hazards. Grant funds can’t be used to make repairs that aren’t related to a health and safety issue.

Eligibility Requirements

To receive Section 504 funds, you must live in an eligible rural area as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You must also meet the following requirements:

  • Your household income must be at or below the “very low limit,” which varies by county.
  • You must be at least 62 years old.
  • You must own your home and use it as your primary residence.
  • You must be unable to secure an affordable loan from a bank or other financial institution.

How to Apply

You’ll need to contact your local USDA Rural Development Office to begin the application process. Prepare for the call by downloading the following documents from the Rural Development website:

  • Uniform Residential Loan Application
  • Employment and Asset Certification form
  • Attachment 12-E checklist
  • Request for Information

Contact Information


Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program helps eligible seniors reduce their energy bills and make energy efficient repairs. If you qualify, you may be able to get help replacing an outdated HVAC system, replacing drafty windows or installing systems designed to reduce energy usage. This program also covers the installation of energy-efficient fixtures.

Eligibility Requirements

You may qualify for WAP funds if your household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If you don’t meet this requirement, you may qualify if you receive benefits from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. If your state uses criteria established by the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, it’s possible to qualify if your household income is at or below 60% of the median household income for your state.

How to Apply

Requirements vary by state, so visit and look for the weatherization administrator in your state. After you contact the state administrator, follow the instructions provided to complete your application.

Contact Information

Website: Ultimate Guide to Government Aid for Seniors

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