Finances and Entitlements

If you are taking care of your grandchild and you need financial assistance, you can apply for the Family Assistance Program, which has replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Low-income families have two options: they can apply for Family Assistance as a family unit, or they can apply for Family Assistance for the child only.

Who is Eligible for Family Assistance?
The following people are eligible for Family Assistance:

  • Adults who have low incomes and resources and who are part of a family unit that includes needy children
  • Children who are under the age of 18 (19 if they are full-time students) and who live with grandparents or other relatives

Some examples of eligible candidates might be a Grandmother who applies for Family Assistance for herself and her grandchildren or a Grandmother who applies for Family Assistance for her grandchild only (she receives SSI, or gets income from another source). In this example, since she herself, is not receiving Family Assistance, the grandmother will not be required to work.

Is there any way to avoid the five-year lifetime limit?
Yes. You can avoid the five-year time limit if you apply for Family Assistance for your grandchild only. If you need cash assistance for yourself, find out what other benefits are available to you (for example, find out whether you might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, also called SSI; Social Security Survivors benefits; Social Security Disability benefits; Veteran's benefits; or Unemployment insurance).

Can one work and still be eligible for family assistance?
Yes. You can work and still be eligible for Family Assistance because certain income from wages does not count when determining whether you are eligible for Family Assistance.

Do I have to apply for family assistance for myself in order to apply for my grandchild?
The rules are complex but in general they are as follows:

  • If you have not adopted your grandchild you can apply for Family Assistance for the two of you or for your grandchild alone
  • If you have legal custody or guardianship of your grandchild, you can also apply for assistance for your grandchild only or for the two of you
  • Grandparents who have adopted their grandchildren cannot apply for Family Assistance for the children alone

How can I be excused from the work requirement?
Grandparents will not have to participate in the work requirement if they are:

  • 60 years of age or older;
  • personally taking care of a child under the age of twelve months (this excuse is available for a three month period

Can grandparents apply for Medicaid for their grandchild only?
Yes, and they do not need a legal relationship like legal custody, legal guardianship or adoption to apply for Medicaid for their grandchild. Their income will not be counted, if they apply for their grandchild only.

Copyright 1994-2001 – HELP For Grandparent Caregivers

Grandparent Caregiver Law Center of the Brookdale Center on Aging of Hunter College