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How to Get Public Assistance

Public assistance programs offer low-income families a variety of programs that help them make ends meet. While requirements vary from state to state, there are some common rules to follow.


  • Step 1: Obtain an application Contact your local Department of Human Services or Family Services. Ask for an application for the programs or services you need. Programs exist for disability, health insurance, childcare, housing, food stamps, and other areas of need.
  • TIP: Most county agencies have public assistance applications on their websites, along with general financial requirements. You may be able to submit the application online.
  • Step 2: Fill out application Fill out the application honestly and to the best of your ability. Use your financial documents to provide accurate income numbers and cost assessments. When you are finished, submit the application via mail or in person.
  • TIP: Many programs require participants to register for work, or participate in an employment or training program to qualify for food stamps and other programs.
  • Step 3: Prepare for your appointment Prepare for your appointment by gathering all the required paperwork. Necessary information may include your identification, proof of income, childcare costs, rent receipts or mortgage paperwork, utility bills, and medical bills.
  • Step 4: Complete appointment Arrive at your appointment on time with copies of all of your paperwork. You may undergo several interviews to determine your eligibility.
  • Step 5: Await decision Wait to see if your application is approved or denied. You will be notified within 30 days. If denied, follow the prescribed appeals process to get the help you need.
  • FACT: The Medicaid program, a federal health insurance for low-income people, was created in 1965.

You Will Need

  • Application paperwork
  • Identification
  • Proof of income
  • Childcare costs
  • Rent receipts or mortgage paperwork
  • Utility bills
  • And medical bill information

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