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Help if You Are Homeless or You Have Low or No Income

September 2020

These programs are for people who are homeless or who have low or no income. You must apply to the Department of Social Services (DSS) for most of these programs.

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

Estos programas son para personas sin ingresos o bajos ingresos, o que no tienen hogar. Para la mayoría de estos programas tiene que presentar su solicitud ante el DSS (Departamento de Servicios Sociales).

Si usted ya recibe beneficios de DSS, consulte su cuenta en para saber qué beneficios está recibiendo ahora.

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 don’t have children at home, you could get about $220 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.

See also: Cash Assistance for Families.

If you are getting DSS cash assistance, you might also qualify for emergency housing assistance (see below) and moving expenses.

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 for DSS benefits.

You will usually need a phone interview to qualify, so it is important to have a phone number 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 is for children under 19, pregnant women, and caretaker parents or other caretaker relatives of minor children, up to certain income limits.
  • HUSKY B is for children whose family income exceeds the income limits for HUSKY A.
  • HUSKY C is for low income adults who are either disabled or age 65+ and have limited assets.
  • HUSKY D is for adults (19 to 64) with very low or no income. If you have Medicare or you are 65+, you won’t qualify.

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

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 them what kind of help you need.

You can ask

  • for help filling out forms;
  • for help getting the documents 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 can’t get 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.

How do I ask for a hearing?

There are two ways you can do this:

1. Fill out and return the appeal form that came with the denial.

2. Mail or fax an appeal letter to DSS 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.

For food stamps only, you can ask for a hearing by phone at 1-800-462-0134.

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]

What will happen at the hearing?

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

You should get your decision in the mail 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 1-800-453-3320 or 860-344-0380 to ask for help with your hearing.

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

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

What kinds of disabilities qualify?

  • 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, concentration, or your ability to work with other people.

To learn more, 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

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

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 (unpaid debt) forgiveness programs.

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

Emergency 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. Emergency housing can also include

  • 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.

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.

Free Phone Service

If you have low income, you could get a free mobile phone with free minutes. To apply, visit or call 1-800-SAFELINK (1-800-723-3465).

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 school for the whole school year even if you are homeless. They can also 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 unhappy with the school assigned to my children?

You can get help from

  • Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 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: 860-570-5327 or 203-223-8975 or online at

Get Help From Legal Aid

Age 60+: Get help from legal aid.
Under age 60: Find legal help or apply online.
Not from Connecticut? Find help in another state.