Help if You Are Homeless or Have Low or No Income

This article was produced by CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Help if You Are Homeless or Have Low or No Income

These programs are for people who are homeless or who have low or no income. If you qualify for one program, you may also qualify for others.

For most of these programs, you must apply to the Department of Social Services (DSS).

If you already get DSS benefits, check your account at to see what benefits you are getting now.

How to Apply for DSS Benefits

You can apply for DSS benefits online at or by calling 1-855-626-6632. Mail your completed application to DSS or drop it off at your local office.

Mailing address:

DSS ConneCT Scanning Center
PO Box 1320, Manchester, CT 06045
Call 2-1-1 to get the local DSS address.

Benefits you could get from DSS

Cash Assistance

If you cannot work and you do not have children at home, you could get about $200 a month in SAGA cash. Ask DSS for an application form and also for the SAGA medical forms. You will need to ask your doctor or mental health professional to fill out the medical form.

If you cannot work and you have children at home, a family of three could get about $570 a month in TFA cash assistance.

To learn more about cash assistance, see Cash Assistance for Families.

If you are getting DSS emergency housing and cash assistance, ask DSS if you can get help with

  • moving expenses;
  • expenses to store your things (in some situations);
  • money to pay a security deposit for heating;
  • money to pay a security deposit for a new apartment if you can afford the rent; and
  • fixing or replacing clothing or household items.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

SNAP helps pay for food. If you have no income, or if your income is less than your rent and utilities, you should qualify within seven days of applying. See above for information about how to apply.

You will usually need a phone interview to qualify, so it is important to have a phone where you can be reached. Call DSS at 855-626-6632 if you don’t hear from them in two weeks.

Health Insurance

You may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance with one of these programs:

  • HUSKY A and B are for children under 19, pregnant women, and some parents or other caregivers.
  • HUSKY D is for adults (19 to 64) with income below 138% of poverty. If you have SSI or Medicare, you do not qualify.
  • HUSKY C is for people who are disabled and have low income.

Apply for one of these programs at, or by calling 1-855-805-4325.

SSI and Social Security Disability

SSI and Social Security Disability are federal programs that help people who cannot work because of a disability. You are eligible if your disability

  • keeps you from working for a year or more, or
  • will cause you to die.

What kinds of disabilities qualify?

You will qualify if you have:

  • A physical condition that
    • makes it hard for you to walk, sit, stand, lift or carry; or
    • causes you pain, tiredness, shortness of breath, or other serious symptoms that affect your ability to work.
  • A mental health condition that causes serious problems with
    • your memory, thinking, understanding, moods, or concentration; or
    • your ability to work with other people.

To learn more about Disability and SSI, see our booklet, SSI and Social Security Disability.

NOTE: It can take over a year to qualify for disability benefits. You should apply for SAGA or TFA in the meantime.

If you are disabled or over age 65, you may also be eligible for

  • StateSupplement program (including cash assistance and sometimes other kinds of help); and
  • Medicare Savings Program (helps pay the Part B premium).

If you have a disability that makes it hard to do something DSS asks, ask your DSS worker for help. Explain your disability and tell your worker what kind of help you need.

You can ask

  • for help filling out forms;
  • for help getting documents that you need; or
  • to meet with DSS in person or by phone, depending on which is better for you.

What if DSS doesn't give me the benefits I asked for?

If DSS says you cannot get benefits or you can't get all the benefits you asked for, ask for a hearing. You must do this within 60 days of when they denied you. You can also talk to a DSS supervisor about your situation.

Remember: Keep a copy of everything you give to DSS.

Sample Appeal Letter


TO:         DSS, Office of Administrative Hearings

                55 Farmington Ave.

                Hartford, CT 06105



From: [Your Name, Address, and DSS Client Number]


[Put your reason here, for example]:


I want a fair hearing because my worker thinks I did not have good cause to leave my job, but I disagree.


[Your Signature]

How do I ask for a hearing?

  • Fill out and return the appeal form that came with the denial; or
  • Mail or fax DSS a letter asking for a hearing. Use the address or fax number printed on your notice. Keep a copy of the letter or fax confirmation for your records. Your letter should have
  • your name, address, the date, and your DSS client number;
  • your reason for wanting a hearing; and
  • your signature.

What will happen at the hearing?

  • The hearing officer may ask you why you think you qualify for DSS programs. You will have to answer the officer.
  • The officer will ask DSS to explain their side.
  • The officer will decide if they agree with you or with DSS.

You should get your decision within 90 days of when you asked for the hearing.

Can someone help me get ready for the hearing?

Statewide Legal Services can give you free legal advice. Call 800-453-3320 or 860-344-0380 to ask for help with your hearing.

Other Programs

Energy Assistance

If you have low income, there are a few energy assistance programs that could help you, including

  • hardship protection from shutoffs,
  • energy assistance, and
  • arrearage forgiveness programs.

To find out where to apply, contact 2-1-1, your local community action agency, or the Connecticut Energy Assistance program at 800-842-1132 or

Basic Needs Program

If you are in treatment for a drug, alcohol, or mental health problem, this program can help pay for emergency needs such as food, transportation, and housing.

Ask your substance abuse or mental health treatment provider to apply for you by calling DMHAS at 800-658-4472.

Housing and Food

If you get cash assistance from DSS and become homeless, you can get up to 60 days of emergency housing once a year. 

To apply, contact your DSS worker within 45 days of when you became homeless.

You can also call 2-1-1 to ask about

  • emergency housing and shelters,
  • subsidized housing for the elderly/disabled,
  • soup kitchens that serve free meals, and
  • food pantries that can give you free food.

Security Deposits

DSS has a program that may help you pay your security deposit in limited situations. Ask your DSS worker how to apply.

Free Phone Service

If you have low income, you could get a free mobile phone with free minutes. To apply, visit or call 800-SAFELINK (800-723-3465). Say you want to apply for Lifeline Phone Service.

Find a Job

The Connecticut Department of Labor website helps people find jobs. Visit them online at or call 2-1-1 to find out more.

Child Care

If your family has low to moderate income and you need child care to work, Care for Kids could pay for some or all of your child care costs. To apply, visit or call 888-214-KIDS (888-214-5437).


If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for additional help including

  • help with rent, utilities, or other basic needs through the Soldiers’, Sailors’, and Marines’ Fund; and
  • help with tuition, tax exemption, and other benefits.

Call 2-1-1 and ask about special help for veterans.

Are you homeless with children in school?

Your children can stay in their same school for the whole school year even if you are homeless. Or they can go to any school in the area where you are staying.

What if they make my child go to a different school?

If the district sends your child to a school that you did not want, they must give you the reasons in writing. They must also tell you how to appeal their decision.

What if I am not happy about the school assigned to my children?

You can get help from

  • Statewide Legal Services at 800-453-3320 or, or
  • the state Coordinator for Education of Homeless Children at 860-807-2058.

What if my children don’t have proof of their vaccines or other school records?

They can still go to school. If they have never been in a Connecticut school until now, they will go to school in the district where you are staying.

School meals and transportation

Ask the school to enroll your children in the school lunch program for free lunches. Some schools also have free breakfasts. If you need help with transportation, the school must transport your children to school.

What if I'm a teen on my own?

You have the right to go to school and get help with transportation. For help, contact the Center for Children’s Advocacy teen hotline:


For more information, contact:

Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).

For people over 60, click here to get help from legal aid.

Not from Connecticut?

Most of the information on this web site is for Connecticut residents only.
Visit to find a legal services program and/or a legal information web site in your area.