Help with Bills
Learn about government programs to help pay for phone bills, medical bills, and other expenses. Find out about COVID rent assistance. And see if you qualify for welfare.
COVID-19 Rent Assistance and Eviction Moratorium
If you're out of work or lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may qualify for rental assistance through your state HUD program. And a federal eviction moratorium from the CDC, extended through June 30, 2021 may help you stay in your home if you can't pay your rent.
Get Rental Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is helping renters during the pandemic by providing rental assistance through state HUD offices. To find out if you qualify:
Learn About the Moratorium on Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you can't pay your rent because of job loss or financial problems related to the pandemic, the ban on evictions from rental housing may help. The ban was ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It began on September 4, 2020, and has been extended through June 30, 2021.
If you’re facing eviction, use this CDC declaration form to explain your situation to your landlord.
The CDC form lists several conditions that you must agree are true:
You've tried to get government rent or housing assistance
Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in the calendar year 2020-2021 ($198,000 if you’re a couple filing jointly)
Didn't have to report any income to the Internal Revenue Service in 2019, or
Received a COVID-19 stimulus payment
You can't pay your full rent due to significantly reduced income or large medical bills
You're paying as much toward your rent as you can
If evicted you'd become homeless or have to move in with other people in close quarters
You understand that at the end of the ban, the landlord can evict you if you don't pay all rent owed
Keep in mind, this is not rental forgiveness. You will still owe rent to your landlord. And you can be evicted during this time for reasons other than not paying your rent.
Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded, state-run benefits program. Also known as welfare, TANF helps families achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties.
What help is available through TANF?
Recipients may qualify for help with:
Each state runs its TANF program differently and has a different name.
Some tribal groups operate their own TANF programs.
Am I eligible for TANF?
Each state or tribal territory decides who is eligible for financial help, services, or other benefits.
You must be a resident of the state where you are applying.
How do I apply for TANF?
To sign-up for temporary benefits, you can:
How do I report TANF benefit fraud?
If you suspect possible welfare fraud, contact:
What else do I need to know about TANF?
If you receive TANF, you may be eligible to receive other government benefits.
Get Help Paying for Telephone Service
Find out how you can get help paying for landline or cell (wireless) telephone service.
What help is available to pay for phone service?
Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program. It helps low-income individuals and families get discounted landline or cell phone service. Some people also qualify for a free phone.
Am I eligible for the Lifeline program?
You may qualify for this program if you or your family meet one of the following:
- Have income at 135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines
- Participate in a government program including:
Head Start (if you meet income eligibility criteria)
Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps or SNAP)
Live on tribal land and qualify for certain tribal programs
Receive a federal veterans pension
How do I apply for Lifeline?
Find a company in your area that offers Lifeline. You must apply through a local participating company.
Who do I contact for extra help with Lifeline?
Your local phone company is responsible for helping you apply for Lifeline and resolving any issues with your Lifeline service. To call them, look up your company's contact information.
If you need more help or your company isn’t responding, contact the Lifeline Support Center.
Find companies that offer Lifeline-supported service
Look up which company you are using
Help if your company refuses to help you or is unresponsive
Answer questions about how the program works
Help you apply for Lifeline
Buy more minutes
Sort out your bill
Replace lost or broken handsets
Help you get specific information about your service plan
Is there anything else I need to know about the Lifeline program?
Get Help with Your Home Energy Bill
If you can't afford to pay your home heating or cooling bill, you may be able to get help from the government or your local social services agency or nonprofit.
What help is available for my home energy bill?
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help with:
- Assistance to pay your heating or cooling bills
- Emergency services in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs
- Low-cost home improvements, known as weatherization, that make your home more energy efficient and lower your utility bills.
LIHEAP funds may not be used to pay water and sewer bills.
Am I eligible for LIHEAP?
This chart from Benefits.gov shows the average LIHEAP eligibility requirements. Actual requirements may vary by state, city, or region. Each local LIHEAP office sets its own eligibility requirements.
- A person or family participating in certain other benefit programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF or welfare), or certain needs-tested veterans benefits may be automatically eligible.
- Being qualified for LIHEAP does not guarantee that you will receive help. Whether or not you receive help depends on how much LIHEAP funding is available for the year.
- On average, about 20% of households that are qualified for LIHEAP receive benefits. When LIHEAP funds run out for the year, no more benefits can be given until Congress makes more funds available.
How do I apply for LIHEAP?
Each state has different rules about when you can apply, how you apply, and the criteria you have to meet to get help.
- Contact your local LIHEAP office for application details.
- Your state’s application may be online. Check the LIHEAP Clearinghouse for a list of state applications available to print out, read, or submit online.
Who do I contact for extra LIHEAP help?
Are there other places I can get help if I don't qualify for LIHEAP?
If your income is too high to qualify for LIHEAP but you need help paying for your energy bills, your local social services agency or a nonprofit organization may have funds to help. You can also contact your gas, oil, or electric company about budget billing programs or new payment options especially for customers with disabilities who are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
How Do I Get Help With My Medical Bills?
Learn how to find help from the government with medical bills and insurance options.
Medicaid and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program)
What help is available?
Medicaid and CHIP help with medical bills for kids whose families can't afford health insurance or can't get it through work. Learn more about eligibility and how to sign up for Medicaid and CHIP.
Social Security and Medicare
What help is available?
Local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices help those on Social Security and Medicare find help. People over 65, people with disabilities under 65, and people with end-stage kidney disease are eligible for Medicare. Learn more about how to apply for Medicare.
Medicaid for Adults
What help is available?
You may qualify for Medicaid, a joint federal/state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income.
Am I eligible?
Each state has different rules about eligibility and applying for Medicaid for adults. Learn more about eligibility.
How do I apply?
Each state has different application requirements for Medicaid for adults. Call your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and to learn how to apply.
Health Insurance Through the Health Insurance Marketplace
What help is available?
HealthCare.gov helps you find insurance options, compare care, learn about preventive services, and more. If your employer does not offer insurance, you're self-employed, or you want to buy your own insurance, you can get it through the Marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace offers health, vision, and dental insurance for you and your family.
Am I eligible?
Everyone is eligible for health insurance through the Marketplace. You may also qualify for subsidies to help pay your premiums. If you’ve experienced a life change like childbirth or loss of a job, you may be able to make changes to your insurance in a Special Enrollment Period.
How do I apply?
How you apply for a plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace depends on what plan you choose. Learn more about applying.
How do I complain or where do I call for extra help?
Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace's top questions section for more help with finding or applying for health care. To file a complaint, call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
Is there anything else I need to know?
If you need more help getting or paying for medical care, try these resources:
If you are uninsured or underinsured and must seek emergency medical treatment:
- The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) guarantees you can get an emergency medical evaluation even if you can't pay. Hospitals that get Medicare funding and provide emergency services must evaluate anyone who requests treatment. If your exam confirms that you have an emergency, including labor, they must stabilize you.
Help with Prescription Drug Costs
Programs from government agencies and pharmaceutical companies can help you pay for prescription drugs. Check with each program to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Find Programs to Help With Prescription Drug Costs
Get Help Choosing the Right Program for You
If you need additional help finding the right patient assistance program for you, or you want to make a complaint about a program, contact RXAssist.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They'll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
April 13, 2021