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6 Government Programs Available for Seniors

Written by: Imelda Bouchard

Various government programs funded at the federal level are designed to support seniors with financial aid, healthcare, and social and community engagement. These financial assistance options are primarily available to seniors with limited income and individuals living with disabilities.

Additionally, most of these services and programs set an age criteria for eligibility, typically between 55 and 65 years old. Read on to learn about the resources offered to senior citizens through federal programs, including details on eligibility criteria and the application process.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program

The program, also referred to as the "Senior Food Box,” offers a no-cost monthly grocery package to participants. Managed by the United States Department of Agriculture, it distributes excess commodity foods and provides administrative funds to states. These states then collaborate with both public and nonprofit organizations to compile and distribute these food boxes. They typically include non-perishable meats, fish, vegetables, canned fruits, dry beans, cereal, and other essential food items.

Designed to complement other food aid programs, the Senior Food Box initiative allows for enrollment even if individuals are already beneficiaries of SNAP. To find out about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) availability in your area, contact your local Agency on Aging, senior center, or community health center.

Home-Delivered Nutrition Program

Meals on Wheels is widely recognized as a major beneficiary of this government program, which allocates funds to local entities for the organization, creation, and delivery of complimentary or reduced-price meals to qualified elderly individuals.

Ordinarily, qualifying for the Home-Delivered Nutrition Program doesn't hinge on financial circumstances, but it requires that applicants be aged 60 or above and face potential threats to their self-sufficiency.

To learn more about the availability of meal delivery services in your area and their specific criteria for eligibility, it's recommended to get in touch with the Agency on Aging closest to you. For assistance, utilize the Eldercare Locator by entering your ZIP code on their website. Husky Senior Care can offer an alternative to government-funded meal services and provide home care for seniors who struggle with mobility and daily tasks.

Federal Pell Grant Program

Managed by the Education Department, the Pell Grant initiative seeks to make higher education more accessible to students facing financial challenges. These grants, which don't need to be paid back, serve undergraduate students and are awarded based on criteria that include educational expenses and the financial contributions expected from the student's family. 

In 2017, a wide network of nearly 4,800 colleges and vocational schools participated, with grant amounts awarded ranging from $592 to $5,920, and the typical grant amount per student was around $4,050. 

Emergency Food Assistance Program

Even if you don't qualify for or receive SNAP benefits, affording sufficient food might still pose a problem. This issue is addressed by the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

TEFAP is supported by federal funding and plays a crucial role in assisting food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and other local entities that provide food to those in need, including the elderly. Participation does not require an EBT card; if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can access food from your local food shelf or have a meal in a group setting without needing to give anything in return.

Typically, the process to qualify for TEFAP is uncomplicated, with minimal evidence required. Nonetheless, the exact procedure and eligibility criteria may differ based on your locality, making it advisable to reach out to your State Distributing Agency for the latest information pertinent to your area.


Assistance for housing offers support to low-income families, elderly individuals, and those with disabilities in securing affordable rental options, either privately owned or provided by the government. The Housing Choice Voucher Program allocates vouchers to lease specified units, ensuring that participants only spend up to 30 percent of their income on rent.

This initiative supplies 1.2 million public housing units and is managed by local entities for 2.2 million tenants, previously known under Section 8. Furthermore, the Public Housing Agency permits certain households to use this voucher towards buying a modest house. 

Additionally, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is available to assist with energy costs and offers weatherization services. It distributes $3.4 billion through block grants to states for this purpose.

Welfare or TANF

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offer financial assistance for a finite period to low-income families on their path to independence. Additionally, TANF may include in-kind benefits like childcare or vocational training. In 2017, TANF provided financial support to 2.5 million individuals, with children accounting for 1.9 million of these recipients.

An average family of three received a monthly sum of $447. However, despite this financial support, such families continue to subsist below the poverty level. TANF beneficiaries are required to secure employment within two years and are limited to receiving aid for up to five years, though some states impose stricter time limits. Also, families that expand with an additional child while possessing over $2,000 in total assets might find themselves ineligible for further financial assistance.


For many seniors throughout the nation, government benefits offer significant stability by providing help where it's most crucial. The official site for accessing these U.S. government benefits for the elderly is, where you can find all the information you need about any federal benefits for which you may qualify.

Imelda Bouchard
Imelda Bouchard is the owner of Gov Relations. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration in Finance​ at the University of Houston-Downtown. Imelda has over a decade of experience working in the finance industry. Following her stint at an international fintech company, she has decided to create a platform where businesses can make use of great business ideas.

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