Finding Assistance with Benefits or Entitlements

The government provides assistance programs known as entitlements or benefits. Getting to know the various programs will help you get the most out of those for which you may qualify.

. It is important to apply for any benefits as soon as possible. For information on Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare Benefits call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov

. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offer extensive information on both Medicare and Medicaid. For information call     1-877-267-2323 or visit www.cms.hhs.gov

. For information about other entitlements such as public assistance or food stamps, speak with your local Department of Human Services or Welfare Unit. For information, call 1-877-696-6775 or visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.os.dhhs.gov

. If you have difficulties paying your utilities, your local Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to assist you with bill payments, an energy crisis, and weatherization and energy-related home repairs. You may apply to the LIHEAP program in your community. Call the National Assistance Referral (NEAR) project toll-free at 1-866-674-6327 for information on where you can apply for LIHEAP.

. If you are an older adult, you may be elegible for additional benefits. Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, connects older Americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services. For more information call 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov

. In many states, there are local organizations that help you with benefits. These organizations go by different names, but try looking up "Independent Living Centers," "Centers for Independent Living (CIL)," and "Centers for the Independence of the Disabled." These are usually nonprofit community-based organizations providing services and advocacy for people with all types of disabilities for issues such as housing, employment, transportation, health care benefits, and social services.

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