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How to Be Poor in America

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I'm working on a loooong list for people who are low-income and disabled from cfs/me. Here's what I have so far. Please let me know any ideas to add:


There are special rules for food stamps for people with disabilities. You may be eligible for more food stamps, or qualify for food stamps even if you were turned down in the past.How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat

Many areas have food banks that offer free groceries.National food bank directory.

Meals on Wheels and home meal programs offer free or low cost meals in many areas. Some programs are restricted to seniors, but others will serve anyone who is homebound or has difficulty leaving their home. No matter what age you are, contact your local area agency on aging and they can hook you up.


If you are on Medicaid, they can offer free taxis or transport to doctor appointments. In some areas, you need to apply for this, in other areas it is automatic. Contact your local Medicaid office for details.

Para-transit services are the bomb. At least the one in my area is really great. And really cheap.How To Get a Free Ride

Amtrak gives 15% discount to people with disabilities, plus a traveling companion. Also, they have a mediocre wheelchair service that may provide you with a wheelchair and assistant who can push the chair and help you get to the train.

This is off topic, but airports also have wheelchair services and they are GREAT. Use them. you will be very glad you did. Bring lots of cash for tips.

In some states, the Department of Motor Vehicles offers discounts on ID cards, driver’s licenses, and license plates to people who are poor or disabled.

Some areas offer free or discounted bus and subway fares to people with disabilities. Some cities offer free or discounted parking to people with handicap license placards. Inquire with your local transit authority.


Some companies offer low cost internet for people who are low-income. Programs vary by state. Check out:AT&T Access,Comcast, andCentury link. I know someone who was very happy with the AT&T service. I looked into Century link, but it was not actually that great a deal for my situation. Please also check internet providers in your area, as there may be other businesses that offer this service.

In my area, the social service agency offers free trash stickers. But they don’t tell you this. You just have to know to ask. Do they do this other places? Please let me know.

Don’t learn this the hard way like I did. Here’sHow To Get a Free Phone That Doesn’t SuckIf you are hearing impaired, you can also get free amplified phone equipment (

Most communities have other programs that help low-income people. Dial 2-1-1 on your phone and ask what is available.


Many utility companies, including electric, gas, phone, water and trash services offer discounts to customers who are disabled, elderly or low income. Contact your utility company and ask.

Your local social services agency offers utilities assistance throughLiheap. Everyone already know this. What you may not know: There are often three different utility programs: Winter, Summer, and Emergency. If you need all three, apply three times every year.

Here’s something else you probably don’t know about Liheap: If you are living with a caregiver, they will not count the caregiver’s salary. This is an obscure little rule that your Liheap caseworker probably won’t know.

You’ll need to research it and point it out. If you got turned down in the past, try again using this rule. It works!

Most communities have other programs that help low-income people with utilities. Dial 2-1-1 on your phone and ask what is available.


If your disabling condition is very severe and a friend, loved one or family member is providing personal care for you, you may be able toget pay for the person who is caring for you.

If you are homebound, check outHow To Be Homebound


If you are on Medicare, you may be charged a lot of co-pays for medical visits, plus your disability check will be lowered by about $100 per month to pay Medicare premiums. Don’t worry, you have options.How to Escape Medicare Fees

If you are having trouble qualifying for Medicaid:How To Get On Medicaid Even if You Can’t Get On Medicaid

If you can’t afford a doctor:How to Get to the Doctor When You Can’t Get to the Doctor

If you can’t afford meds:How To Be Broke & Medicated


There are lots of ways to get cheap rent. So many ways, that this article was getting too long and I had to create a whole separate article onHow To Get Cheap Rent.

Most cities and counties offer real estate tax relief for the elderly or disabled. Some also offer rent relief. Check with your local government tax and property assessors office.

If you are working, you can save money to buy a first house in anIDA. It is matching program. Every time you put in one dollar, they put in one dollar. If you are on SSI, and IDA can also keep your disability check from being reduced.


If you have a mental health diagnosis and history of homelessness, many Supportive Housing programs are GREAT!!! I can’t seem to find any kind of national link, so I don’t know what to tell you here. Try googling the name of your state or city and the words “Supportive Housing” or “Supported Housing.”

If you have a mental health diagnosis and you are currently homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, contactThe Amazing SOAR Programto see if they are in your area. They can help get disability applications approved quickly for people who are homeless and disabled.

Many other places have already created lists of homeless resources, so no need to reinvent


If you are on disability and have debt, you may have some options. Learn more aboutCredit Cards, Medical Bills, Debt Collectors & Disability Checks

This page is not very good. Help me improve it:How to Get Tax Breaks for Disabilities

This page is good. Read it:How To Escape The Crushing Weight of Student Loans


National parks give free lifetime passes to people on disability.America The Beautiful Access Pass

Many movie theaters, museums, and parks allow an caregiver to get in free if you are in a wheelchair (ask)

Many parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, fishing licenses, and other recreational activities offer disability discounts. Some of these places also offer special parking areas and other accommodations (such as reduced wait time for lines). Be sure to inquire at Guest Services/Relations before you go. And always ask about available discounts because many parks don’t publicize them.

If you are disabled, theLibrary of Congresswill send you free books on tape. Back in the days before internet, I used to love this service more than anything. Now it seems kind of quaint and obscure.


Here’sHow to Apply for Social Security Disability

Social Security is not the only game in town. Here’sHow to Apply for Other Kinds of Disability

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