Help with Bills

Learn about government programs to help pay bills and other expenses.

Get Help Paying for Telephone Service

Learn About Lifeline

Lifeline is a government benefit program from the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund. It can help you get discounted landline or cell (wireless) phone service if you are below a certain income level.

How to Get Lifeline

Eligibility

There are two ways to qualify:

  • Income based eligibility
  • Program based eligibility

How to Apply for Lifeline benefits

If you qualify for Lifeline, there are three steps to receive a discount on your phone service

  1. Select a phone company

  2. Fill out an application you can get from the phone company

  3. The phone company will verify your identity and enroll you in the program

Learn whom to contact if you have a problem with the Lifeline program, or if you think someone is fraudulently getting Lifeline service.

To continue with your Lifeline service, you must recertify every year.

Mobile Phones For Emergencies

If you can't afford any telephone service, you can still use a cell phone to contact 911 in case of an emergency. If you need a cell phone for this purpose, contact your state social service agency. It can help you find an emergency cell phone donation program near you.

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Get Help with Your Home Energy Bill

Help for Low-Income Households

If you need help paying for your home energy costs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help with

  • Paying for part of your heating or cooling bills
  • Paying for some weatherization or low-cost home repairs that may lower your monthly energy bills
  • Energy crisis assistance for immediate help

Eligibility and Where to Apply

Each local LIHEAP agency sets up its own eligibility requirements.

Contact your local LIHEAP agency:

LIHEAP does not pay for water or sewer bills. Learn more by reviewing LIHEAP’s list of frequently asked questions.

For additional help applying for LIHEAP benefits, call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR), a free service, at 1-866-674-6327 (TTY: 1-866-367-6228) or email energyassistance@ncat.org.

Other Options For Help with Gas, Oil, or Electric Bills

If your income is too high to qualify for LIHEAP but you need help with energy bills:

  • Reach out to your local social services agency or non-profits organizations, which may have funds available through grants.
  • Contact your gas, oil, or electric company about financial programs or new payment options.

Learn about the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to help make repairs and save on your energy bills.

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Help with Medical Bills

Learn about the state and federal health insurance programs that may offer help with paying for bills or payment options:

Options for Lowering Medical Costs or Treatments

  • Community clinics - Local community health centers offer free or low-cost medical services including prenatal care.
  • Clinical Trials - Weigh the benefits and risks if you decide to participant in one.
  • Medical schools - Find programs such as student-run clinics that help underserved communities.
  • Research institutes - Check Cancer.gov or NIH.gov to find a study seeking participants.
  • Prescription drugs and medical devices - Get help with lowering the cost.
  • Other resources - Find suggestions on how to manage medical expenses.


Medical Bills From an Unexpected Hospital Visit:

Call the insurance company and call the hospital about the invoice:

  • Identify possible billing errors
  • Negotiate a reduction 
  • Discuss possible payment plans

Help with Low-cost Dental Plans:

Learn about the dental coverage options from local and state health programs, government insurance plans, dental schools, and clinical trials for people with limited incomes.

Help with Low-Cost Vision Plans:

Learn about financial assistance programs to help with eye exams, surgery, prescriptions or glasses.


Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), you're guaranteed access to an emergency medical evaluation, even if you can't pay. The act requires hospitals that receive Medicare funding and that provide emergency services to evaluate anyone who comes to their emergency room and requests treatment. If the evaluation confirms that you have an emergency medical condition, including active labor, they are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for you regardless of your ability to pay.

Charity Care Programs

Charity care programs help uninsured patients who can't afford to pay their medical bills and don't qualify for government aid. The patient services department of your hospital can help you find out if you're eligible. Reach out to the hospital before the medical service and explain your situation. If you don't qualify, the hospital may offer you a payment plan.

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Help with Prescription Drug Costs

If you're looking for help paying for your prescriptions, there are a number of local and federal agencies and programs you can contact:

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Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Learn About Short-Term Financial Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), also known as welfare, is designed to help families recover from temporary difficulties and move forward. 

Recipients may qualify for help with food, housing, home energy, child care, job training, and more.

Each state and tribal government's TANF program is operated differently, and has a different name.

Benefits Eligibility

Each state and territory decides the specific eligibility criteria that must be met to receive financial assistance payments or other types of benefits and services.

Check with your local TANF office to learn whether you are eligible to receive financial assistance or other TANF benefits and services.

How to Get TANF

Contact your local TANF office to apply for financial assistance.

Report TANF Benefits Fraud

If you suspect possible TANF fraud, contact your local TANF office or contact the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Inspector General's Fraud Hotline.

Learn more about this program for families in need. You may be eligible to receive other government benefits.

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Last Updated: July 18, 2017

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