Public Benefits and Healthcare

Food Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • SNAP (called Food Stamps in the past) provides food and nutrition education to low-income people. It is managed by the Department of Human Resources (DHR).

  • The program for older adults is called the Alabama Elderly Simplified Application Project (AESAP). AESAP makes it easier to apply for help!

  • People who get SNAP/AESAP benefits get a plastic card to buy food. This card is called an Electronic Benefits Card (EBT card). (Not every store will take EBT cards—a sign will often say when EBT cards are welcome.)

Who can get SNAP/AESAP benefits?

  • If you are age 60+ and have a low income, you may be able to get AESAP. It will generally depend on how much money you earn, how much money you have in the bank, and who lives with you.

How do I apply for SNAP/AESAP benefits?

  • If you are age 60+ (and DO NOT have anyone under age 60 in your home), use the easier, faster AESAP form to apply. All AESAP claims are handled through the state DHR office in Montgomery office.

  • Call the Benefits Enrollment Center (an Alabama non-profit) at 1-877-833-2550 to talk to a person who can help you apply or go to to find the forms.

Food Banks and Other Ways to Find Free Food

  • You can call the Benefits Enrollment Center at 1-877-833-2550 and talk to someone who can give you this information. They will tell you if there are food pantries, food banks, or other programs in your area or go to

YOU HAVE THE POWER! Take advantage of all food programs you can find in your area. Having good, regular meals will help keep you strong and healthy!

Social Security & SSI Information

  • Social Security Retirement: Benefits paid monthly to anyone who has reached retirement age and paid into the system while working.

  • Social Security Disability (SSDI): Monthly income for people living with a disability, based on past work and what the person paid into the system over the years.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Monthly income that is a set amount for people living with a disability with little to no income or assets. This program is not based on past work. In Alabama, anyone approved for SSI is automatically eligible for Medicaid.

Programs available to dependent family members of SSDI or Retirement recipients

  • Spousal benefits: If one spouse is receiving SSDI or Retirement, the other spouse may be entitled to an additional spousal benefit, if over the age of 62, caring for the spouse’s disabled child, or caring for the spouse’s child under age 16. This benefit might be available for a divorced spouse if the marriage lasted at least ten years.

  • Survivor benefits for spouses: Widowers may be eligible for benefits between age 50 and 60, based on the deceased spouse’s work record.


Make sure to read your free copy of the Medicare and You Handbook Medicare Enrollment every year!

You are eligible for Medicare when you turn age 65.

There is a seven-month enrollment period, starting from 3 months before you turn 65 and ending 3 months after the month in which you turn 65. If you miss this 3-month enrollment period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty.

  • Part A Medicare is for hospital services

  • Part B Medicare is medical insurance for doctors, outpatient or home health care, preventive screenings, and durable medical equipment. There is a monthly premium charged for Part B.

If you are still working at age 65 and have healthcare coverage from your job, you are not penalized for applying for Medicare later. You have 8 months to file after you either stop working or lose your employer group health plan.

After your initial enrollment period ends, you can only sign up for Part A and Part B during one of the other enrollment periods. You can sign up between January 1st and March 31st each year. There may be certain circumstances that allow for a special enrollment period. For more information, contact, the official site of the US government.

  • For questions about your claims or other personal Medicare information, log into (or create) your secure Medicare account here:, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Medicare Supplemental Coverage

You can also choose to add supplemental coverage (Part C Medicare). This is extra coverage that you buy from a private insurance company to cover costs that Medicare doesn’t cover.

If you need advice about supplemental coverage, you can contact your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get free health insurance help. SHIPs are not connected to any insurance company or health plan.

HOW TO GET HELP: Call the Alabama State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) 1-800-243-5463 or contact

During the times below, you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Health PlanPart A, B (with or without drug coverage), or Part C 

Initial Enrollment Period: When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join a plan

Open Enrollment Period: From October 15th to December 7th each year 
Your coverage will begin January 1st (if the plan gets your request by December 7).You can join, switch, or drop a plan.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: From January 1st to March 31st each year
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare (and join a separate Medicare drug plan) once during this time

Medicare Cost Savings Programs

Alabama has different programs for low-income people who also have Medicare. These programs help pay Medicare monthly premiums and, in come cases, cover the Medicare deductible and co-pays.

To qualify for any of these programs, you must:

  • Be eligible for Medicare Part A, the hospital insurance Medicare program.

  • Live in Alabama and be a U.S. citizen or in satisfactory immigration status. Proof of immigration status will be required for non-citizens.

  • Have a monthly income below a certain limit—the amount of help you can get depends on your income.

Long Term Health Care

  • When daily activities like bathing, dressing, eating, cooking, and using the bathroom become too hard for older adults, some extra help may be needed.

  • Nursing home care is not always the only option! There are a lot of health care and service choices now. Find out all the options so you can find the best fit for what you need and want.

YOU HAVE THE POWER! You should have the final say in decisions about where you live and your health care plan. If no one is listening to you, or you feel like things are out of control, contact Legal Services Alabama’s Elder Helpline to see if we can help! 1-866-456-3959

Alabama’s Three Medicare Cost Savings Programs

Listed in order from the lowest income level to qualify to the highest.

  1. Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program

    • Medicaid pays the Medicare Part B premium. Paying this premium takes a big bite out of your monthly income, so getting Medicaid to cover it puts that money back in your pocket.

    • Medicaid covers the Medicare deductible.

    • If you go to a doctor or other provider who takes Medicaid, this program will pay the additional 20% coinsurance expense.

    • Participants get a Medicaid card.

  2. Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program

    • Medicaid pays the Part B premium only

    • Coverage may begin up to three months before the month you apply if you were income-eligible during that time

    • Participants do not get a Medicaid card

  3. Qualifying Individual (1)(QI-1) Program

    • Medicaid pays the Medicare Part B premium only

    • Coverage can go back three months from when you apply if you were income-eligible during that time

    • Note: funding for this program is limited, so when the funds are used up for the year, no more applications will be approved

    • Participants do not get a Medicaid card

How to apply for one of the programs above (QMB, SLMB, or QI-1) Medicare Savings programs:

Call the Alabama Medicaid Agency at 1-800-362-1504 and follow the prompts to get an application mailed to you. (Form 211)

OR  Go to

    • Click on “Learn more” under Medicaid Applicants

    • Then, click on “Medicaid for the Elderly and Disabled”

    • Next, click on “Applications and Forms” on the list

    • Lastly, look for Form 211.


Nursing Home Care

  • Medicare will pay for only some time in a nursing home facility or home health care. If long-term care is needed, you will probably have to look at getting Medicaid coverage. There are several Medicaid long-term care options.

  • To get Medicaid coverage for nursing home care, there must be a need for skilled or intermediate level nursing care and maybe even more services to maintain a quality of life. For Medicaid coverage, you will need to meet income and asset requirements.

If I want to stay in my home, but I need some help, what are my options?

Home and Community-Based Programs (HCBS)
These services are designed to protect your health, safety, and dignity while keeping you as independent as possible. These options allow you to remain in your community and receive Medicaid coverage of services.

Elderly and Disabled (E&D) Waiver Program
A case manager works with an older adult to develop a person-centered plan of care based on the older adult’s medical needs. The program can provide personal care, homemaker services, respite care, adult day health, companion services, or home delivered frozen meals.

Alabama Community Transition (ACT) Waiver
This helps people living with disabilities or long-term illnesses who live in a nursing home and want to move back to their home or a community setting. The plan of care and case management services are based on the individual’s needs. Someone who applies must have been in a nursing home for at least 90 days and be able to move to a community setting within 180 days of their application.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS)-Alabama Department of Mental Health
Some HCBS programs are handled through the Alabama Department of Mental Health for people with an intellectual disability diagnosis or other learning disability diagnoses.

These programs are the Home and Community-Based Waiver for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and the Living at Home (LAH) Waiver for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities.

TIP: Go to:, the Alabama government website with a lot of information about public benefits.

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