I research information from public agencies and organizations to help low-income people get benefits that make their lives a little easier.
Who Doesn't Like Free Stuff?
If you are disabled and receive either SSI or SSDI, there may be a host of free products and services available to you. If you are in need of help, the following programs can provide you with benefits ranging from free toothpaste to free refrigerators to free park passes. Links for each benefit are also provided where relevant to help you on your way to getting your freebies. Let's take a look at some of the no-cost benefits you might be eligible for.
1. Free Over-the-Counter Health Products
If you are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid due to having very low income or SSI/SSDI, chances are your healthcare plan has an over-the-counter benefit available to you. For example, the Molina Dual Options of Ohio program provides an annual $240 benefit to members that allows them to order from a large variety of health products at no charge and have the items delivered to their home. Some of the products you can get for free include . . .
- equipment, like bathroom scales, blood pressure monitors, heating pads, electric toothbrushes, and shower benches.
- vitamins and supplements, like fish oil, stress tablets, multivitamins, and glucosamine chondroitin MSM tablets.
- allergy remedies and acid reducers, like cough syrup, sore throat lozenges, and antacids.
- pain relievers, like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and analgesic rubs.
- digestive health products, like milk of magnesia and laxatives.
- dental care products, like toothpaste, oral pain relief gel, floss, and denture adhesive.
- first-aid products, like bandages, gauze, and antibiotic ointment.
Some states that offer this benefit have a printed catalog or website from which you can order the free products you need. Others offer a benefits card that you can take to participating pharmacies. You generally will not be charged any tax or shipping fees on these OTC items.
This freebie helps you, but it also helps taxpayers and the medical industry. Providing for basic medical aids such as pain relievers and fever reducers keeps costs lower by eliminating unnecessary and costly trips to the emergency room.
To see if you qualify for this benefit, contact customer service at your healthcare plan and ask if they have an OTC benefit for participants with dual Medicaid and Medicare enrollment.
2. Free Energy-Efficient Home Appliances
The United States Department of Energy has a Home Weatherization program available to certain low-income citizens in all US states and territories. Priority is given to homes that have a resident who receives SSI. The weatherization program provides government grants for free replacement of broken furnaces and energy-inefficient refrigerators and deep freezers in your home. This program can also provide roof repairs, window replacements, and HVAC fixes with the goal of making low-income Americans' homes more energy-efficient. All of this may be free to you.
The Home Weatherization Program has many goals. It helps the government maintain existing housing, creates economic activity by providing employment to contractors across the country, and helps private citizens lower their energy and housing costs.
3. Free Smartphone and Phone Service
If you live within poverty guidelines on SSI or SSDI, you are likely eligible for a free phone with service. The old "Obamaphone" program has become more generous, with cell phone carriers now providing up to 1000 free minutes per month as well as unlimited texts.
In the past, many carriers had limited free talk time to 250 minutes. This is welcome news to low-income folks who need enough minutes to talk to doctors and service providers and to keep in contact with family. Participants were previously limited to candy bar or flip-style phones, but carriers are now starting to offer smartphones as well. To enjoy this low-income benefit, try Q Link Wireless. They offer a free smartphone, 1000 minutes, 1GB data, and unlimited texts each and every month.
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4. Free Broadband Internet Service
If you are currently living on SSI or SSDI income in HUD-assisted housing (or are planning to live in one of these settings), a government initiative called ConnectHome Nation might be bringing free internet service to your location.
ConnectHome Nation currently provides free and low-cost internet service to communities in a number of cities. They are currently working on a national initiative to expand free and deeply reduced-cost broadband internet to 350,000 households in over 100 American communities.
Currently, they provide internet to HUD communities in cities including Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.
Even if you don't currently reside in one of these areas, it's worth checking whether the program may be available in your community. To see if you can get free or reduced-cost internet in your zip code, visit ConnectHome nation's website.
5. Free Federal Recreational Lands Pass
The United States government encourages all citizens to explore the country's beautiful landscapes at over 2,000 Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish and Wildlife Service sites. These sites offer sightseeing, fishing, sporting, walking, hiking, riding, picnicking, and other opportunities. If you are an SSI or SSDI recipient, you can enjoy free access to all of these recreational areas using your complimentary Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass.
In contrast, a non-disabled annual pass usually costs around $80 per year. A single-day visit to one of these sites without a pass costs around $20 per person, so the benefit is extremely valuable to those looking for travel, leisure, and wilderness education on the cheap. The disabled persons' Access Pass is good for a lifetime, so the benefits can very easily add up to over $1,000 in value. Your pass also allows you to waive entrance fees for up to three guests, so if you have family, are in a wheelchair, have a caretaker, or just want to bring a friend along with you, they are covered too.
Some of the most popular sites you can visit for free include:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
- Yellowstone National Park
- Colorado National Monument
- Yosemite National Park
Many sites, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Statue of Liberty National Park, Denali National Park and Reserve, Yellowstone National Park, Congaree National Park, and Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park, have ADA-accessible handicap-friendly tours, so you can visit even if you have a physical disability that limits your mobility.
To apply for the free lifetime Access Pass, you will need to document your disability by visiting one of the sites and bringing a letter from Social Security regarding your receipt of SSI or SSDI. To find out about sites that accept the Access Pass near you, visit the United States Government's recreation site.
6. Free Job Training
If you are determined to voluntarily get back into the workforce, the Social Security Administration runs a free job-training initiative called Ticket to Work. Through state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and private partnerships, this program aims to help SSI and SSDI recipients become independent again.
The benefits include job opportunities with the government and a clause that states that you won't have to compete with non-disabled applicants for jobs. The Ticket to Work program also allows you to retain free Medicare insurance for eight years after you begin working again so long as you still have a disability.
New Food Benefit for Elderly & Disabled SSI/SSDI Recipients
Questions & Answers
Question: Will I qualify for freebies if I am disabled?
Answer: If you are on SSI or SSDI and are generally low income, you should qualify for at least some of these programs.
Question: Is there free help out there for disabled people on things like a mattress or vacuums?
Answer: The only thing I can imagine is that you might be able to get therapeutic mattress products through Medicare if medically necessary. While I don't know of any programs for vacuums, you might be able to get reimbursed for housecleaning services under Medicare if your disability prevents you from cleaning your own home.
Question: Do I have to own the house to be eligible for the weatherization project? My landlord allows tenants to use their own appliances.
Answer: No, fortunately you can be a renter, but I believe you need the landlord's permission on the weatherization paperwork.
Question: Where can I can a refrigerator as a disabled person on SSI?
Answer: You would need to apply for the Weatherization program noted in the article above.
Question: Do any disability benefits count against my SSI, like the appliances, since they are expensive items?
Answer: No, the Federal government has made an exception for the weatherization program so any benefit you get from it is not counted as an asset and is also not taxable. The other benefits listed also do not count against SSI or SSDI.
Question: Can I get a discount on my septic tank being pumped out due to disability?
Answer: Not that I know of. To get the best deal on this, you will want to call a few different companies about the job. See if you can negotiate the price down to something affordable.
Question: Okay, so I am lost and hoping to find someone to guide me through some of this. Are there any caseworkers that can call me and help me apply for some of the programs?
Answer: Yes, with all of the options it can be easy to get confused. If you want to apply for weatherization you can contact your county's Community Action Program and they might be able to help you. The best thing I can tell you for the other options is to click on each link provided, and if there is a phone number associated with the website then you can give them a call and ask for guidance. If you are Medicare and Medicaid dual-eligible you can look up the name of your plan, call a representative, and ask about over the counter benefits. Best of luck to you.
Question: Where can I get a free washer and dryer for people on SSI or SSDI?
Answer: The home weatherization program might be able to help you if you are trying to get rid of an older, energy-inefficient model. If that does not work, the next best thing could be what my husband and I did: go to Craigslist. We bought a used washer and dryer set on Craigslist for $150. We are still using them 5 years later. $150 was almost all the money we had at the time. Before that, I was washing clothes in the tub and hang drying them for a few months.
Question: I'm not married, but live with my girlfriend. Does her income affect my SSI?
Answer: If you get money from her then it would count as income and affect your SSI. If she is not giving you income then it should not affect your SSI.
Question: Can I get a free walk-in tub through SSI or SSDI?
Answer: You might be able to get this from Medicare if it is medically necessary.
Question: My gas oven broke, and now I cannot cook nor can I buy an oven on my $750 a month disability check. What are my options to either fix my oven (the ignition switch) or receive another oven for free, or less than $25? I really need a stove! And my recliner broke too, so I don't have a chair! Sitting only on my bed and cooking with a microwave or crock pot is no fun, and causing me more pain.
Answer: I am sorry you are going through this predicament. While I do not think that the Weatherization program will replace ovens, there might be a few things you can do. You can check Craigslist for used ovens. My husband and I got a lot of our household goods used from Craigslist, and saved a ton of money. I suggest buying an electric oven if you buy it used. You can definitely get recliners on Craigslist cheap. The other option would be to buy a cheap toaster oven new, as well as a freestanding plug-in burner.
Question: Does the SSI program help with monthly payments of a refrigerator?
Answer: No, the weatherization program can get you a refrigerator, but it will not make payments for one you already bought.
Question: I am in Gainesville Florida and I need ALL of my teeth extracted and several implants with bridges. I must be hospitalised for this problem. An oral surgeon must do the procedure. I have extenuating medical problems and my teeth are making me more ill. I am 54 years old and I am on SSI and Medicare. What can I do?
Answer: If you are eligible for Medicaid in Gainesville, Alachua County, according to the following page you will have dental coverage: https://ahca.myflorida.com/medicaid/Policy_and_Qua...
You generally can get Medicaid if your overall income is low enough, and you would apply through your local Food Stamp/Medicaid office. Medicaid can also cover your out of pocket monthly Medicare premiums.
Another option is to go to a county free clinic that provides dental care to see if there are any in-clinic alternatives for your situation.
My best wishes for your health and speedy recovery.
Question: I'm a disabled woman caring for my elderly, very ill parents. I need to get away for at least 5/7 days, due to the overwhelming stress, depression, pain. Is there a hotel or any place I can stay for no more than $20 per day/night? My car is very old so, it can't be far. I'm in Miami. Help
Answer: I can understand your need to get away with your stresses. While I have been to Florida on vacation, I am not too familiar with the exact places around Miami. However, in college I traveled on the cheap by staying in youth hostels. You do not have to be young or any specific age to stay in them. Many of them are still under $20 per night. Here is a web link of Miami hostels. I am sure you can search for other cities close by as well.
Question: How would I go about finding out if therapeutic mattresses are free? I have Humana Medicare and Medicaid.
Answer: You would need to have a medical condition that could be helped by a therapeutic mattress. You would also need to contact customer service for your medical plan and ask if mattresses are a covered product for medical supplies.
Question: Are there programs that help disabled with medically restricted diets?
Answer: Yes, to some extent. I checked the Meals on Wheels website and it says they offer "low-sugar, low-sodium meal options, as well as vegetarian options". In some cases Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans partner with other organizations to provide special care to disabled or elderly populations with dietary needs. It would be good to call your health care plan and a disability advocate organization in your area to find out if these programs can help you.
Question: When it comes to freebies for disabled people on SSI and SSDI, I have a roommate does their income count?
Answer: No, your roommate's income generally does not count.
Question: Why aren’t these programs available in Florida?
Answer: At the very least the federal programs are available in Florida.
Question: Are any of these Federal government programs or just state government based? North Carolina kinda sucks so I hope there is federal OTC aid and weatherization as well.
Answer: Most of these programs are Federal but run by each state. You can check out https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/energy-mineral-... for more information.
This is an example of a health care plan in NC that has the OTC benefit: uhccommunityplan.com/nc/medicare/2019/dual-complete-rp. Click on "Health Products Benefit" to see the annual free benefit.
To see if your health care plan has this option, find their online directory to see if there is a similar page about plan benefits.
Question: Is it possible to get a new mattress for close to free iof you're on SSI or SSDI?
Answer: If your mattress is medically necessary then Medicare might be able to help you. Sometimes a local United Way can help as well. Otherwise, a blow-up mattress is often a decent, low-cost alternative.
Question: Is there anything recreational and free to do near Knoxville, Tennessee?
Answer: A one-hour drive from you is the 520,000 acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has free admissions.
Question: Does anyone know of a National Park in Mississippi that I could get a lifetime pass through cause the ones listed were 1000's to several hundred miles away?
Answer: This site tells you about national parks in Mississippi: onlyinyourstate.com/mississippi/must-visit-national-parks-in-ms/. This site has more info about the passes: nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/fees.htm
Question: Is it possible to get a portable room heater through SSI or SSDI?
Answer: No, unfortunately, none of the programs currently have this option, but try calling 211 on your phone. It is United Way's help line. If you explain your situation perhaps there could be help available.
Question: Is there a place to get a free clothes dryer in Rhode Island? I'm on disability and in
my own home.
Answer: It is possible the weatherization program listed in the article can replace an old clothes dryer for you. If you don't have one needing replacement, your best bet would be Craigslist. If you can round up around $100 sometimes you can find a good one used. I know it isn't free, but it is perhaps the best alternative.
Question: Will I be able to get a coffee pot free while on SSI?
Answer: No, I do not know of any programs that offer a free coffee pot.
Question: Can SSDI and disability get me an electric bed?
Answer: Semi-electric hospital beds acquired as capped rentals are covered.
© 2018 Stove And Home
Stove And Home (author) on August 30, 2020:
Each program has its guidelines and rules, so you would want to check out the links to find out specific rules as they will vary per organization. For the OTC benefit, if your healthcare plan offers one, they will let you know if you can order online, by mail, phone, or in a store.
Stove And Home (author) on August 30, 2020:
Margaret, you would need to follow the links/information for each referred program to get benefits from them. I don't think new handles would be covered, but low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators probably would.
Margaret Tomlin on August 30, 2020:
Do we just show our medicare card or Medicaid just to get in these places, do I go to my local pharmacy and and get the things I need and just show these cards?
Margaret Tomlin on August 30, 2020:
How to sign up due to covid I need alot of stuff? Plus I need handles for my bathtub and shower so they give those free?
Stove And Home (author) on October 08, 2019:
Jamie Russell22 on October 08, 2019:
Will this program let you live in a single family home?
Stove And Home (author) on July 14, 2019:
Hi, you can try the CHIP repair program, which takes a while to get approval. For low cost help you can see if your local county Community Action Program has repair services. Best of luck to you.
debmart on July 13, 2019:
Anyone know of any agencies or anything I can do to find free help to do the entire outside painting of my house and outbuilding which is 2 story but other than trim will be easy to paint, siding, fascia, and soffit work install a brand new storm door some other various jobs too around my house due to of course all my promised help bailed when called them out on the promises. Jerks!! Not in my life any longer thats a fact. I have all the materials, tools and some cheaters too just to make things go as easy as possible. I can help some here and there just not much. I do have painting inside also and restaining in certain spots fr now just for looks purposes, I have way to much to move and not ner the money to do my wood floors right but inside can wait and I can get to that slowly and whenever no biggy there. Any help is greatly appreciated at tis point, been waiting nearly a year already. Everything local, everywhere have been told to call and ask have turned e down flat all want big money that I do not have. What I did have is in materials. Sorry for the book here
Stove And Home (author) on April 17, 2019:
I looked it up for you. It looks like you might be looking for MassHealth plus Medicare, which is called One Care.
James ceurvels on April 16, 2019:
When you say Medicaid and Medicare does that include MassHealth is that part of it
Stove And Home (author) on January 14, 2019:
Food stamps would be very good for your large household. If you are on Medicaid as well as Medicare your drug premiums should become very low. Please check my listed programs above for help as well with free OTC medical products, free cell phones, and low cost to free internet.
Stove And Home (author) on January 14, 2019:
Since you are limited in your ability to make money and still keep your monthly benefits, it would be best to enlist another person in your household with making extra money. Sites like eBay, Craigslist, and even a yard sale can help infuse extra cash into your household. Non-cash benefits such as SNAP can help your household without reducing your ability to get SSI.
jay1diggy on January 13, 2019:
Im diabled and need help with home apliance's with internet cell phone and labtop hopefully tv ' im a father of 6 children and really need help with paying for medications also its very hard on me with 1 check a month trying to be a great father and take great care of my children alone ' can someone help or lead me in the right direction
Lindell Tenpenny on January 13, 2019:
Im on ssi what can i get to help me money wise?
Stove And Home (author) on October 13, 2018:
You will need to be on SSI or SSDI. You will usually need to fill out some paperwork and have your income statement from Social Security available. You can follow the links beneath each freebie listed in the article to find out more about qualifying for each one.
Sherene Clark on October 12, 2018:
How do i qualify for freebies