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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Select a question from the list below to view the answer. If you are unable to find the answer you're looking for, please Contact Us.
What is Benefits.gov?

Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government, providing citizens with an online eligibility prescreening tool to help you find government benefits that you may be eligible to receive.

Benefits.gov does not allow you to apply for benefits and cannot guarantee your eligibility for any program. In addition, Benefits.gov is not designed to be a comprehensive listing of all programs for which you may be eligible. Its purpose is to provide you with a list of benefits you may be eligible to receive, as well as information on how to apply for those programs.

Benefits.gov is a partnership of many Federal agencies and organizations with a shared vision – to provide improved, personalized access to government assistance programs. For more information about the Federal agencies that make up the Benefits.gov partnership, review the "Management" section on the About Us page

How often should I use Benefits.gov?

Benefits.gov is free, so feel free to visit us as often as you like. We recommend that you visit Benefits.gov as time passes or after major life events. In addition to new benefit program eligibility criteria and/or your own life changes, your eligibility to receive certain assistance may have changed. Additionally, new benefit programs are created over time that you might also be eligible for.

How does the Search function work?

The Search function finds benefit programs related to the words or phrases you enter into the Search box. Capitalization is not considered by the Search function. Keep in mind that the quality of your results depends heavily on the words that you use. Here are some tips to make every search more effective:

Make sure that you spell search words correctly. Remember to leave a space between each word in your query.
Vary your search terms. A different word or phrase will return different search results. Use fewer descriptive words, or try words that have a different but similar meaning. For example, try Veteran instead of military or Army.
Search for exact phrases by placing the search words within quotation marks. For example "special milk program".

Notes

Common words, such as a, and, and the are ignored unless you use quotation marks around them. For example, "a" car "and" car, or "the" car.
If your search includes a date, type the name of the month instead of the calendar number.
You don't have to type the word AND between your search words.
You can type up to 150 characters, including spaces, in the search box.
What should I know about Free Money and Grants?

Free Money

Many people arrive at Benefits.gov after seeing unofficial advertisements that might have them thinking that the government will give "free money" to essentially anyone for anything. The government will not give you money just because you ask for it.

Here are some facts about getting government assistance that some ads may not mention:

The government provides assistance through benefit programs that serve various important purposes, such as job training, nutritional assistance, education, health care and other needs.
In order to receive government assistance you must complete an application and meet specific eligibility requirements as outlined by each program.
Not all assistance programs provide cash payments. Assistance programs that provide payments may have conditions and limitations.

Now, what can Benefits.gov do for you? As the official benefits website of the U.S. government, we can help you start your benefits search by connecting you to assistance programs you may be eligible to receive.

Visit our homepage and try the following options:

Use the Benefit Finder – Take the confidential eligibility questionnaire. Your answers will instantly generate a list of benefits tailored to your specific needs across all assistance categories. You can also access the Benefit Finder by clicking "Start Here" on the homepage.
Browse Benefits – Have a specific need? Select "Benefits" at the top of the page to browse benefit and assistance programs by category, state, or Federal agency.

Grants

Government grants are awards of financial assistance to an individual and/or organization. Grants are used to carry out a government authorized purpose, and are not provided as personal benefits or assistance. Benefits.gov does not provide information on grants.

Visit http://www.grants.gov to find and apply for grants.

How does Benefits.gov determine which benefits I may be eligible to receive?

Computer software compares the answers you submit in the online questionnaire with the eligibility criteria of more than 1,000 Federally-funded benefit programs. You must answer the first section of questions given to you in the Benefit Finder to obtain an initial list of results, which is a list of benefit programs that you may be eligible for based on the information you have provided so far in the questionnaire. Though the list of benefit programs that you may be eligible for will change as you answer more and more questions, the likelihood of your being eligible for the benefit programs on your results list will increase.

Though all other questions after the initial section of questions are optional, we recommend that you answer as many questions as possible to obtain the most accurate benefit results list. Benefits.gov will ask broad questions about your personal situation and as you answer each question, the next questions will become more specific as the system narrows the list of possible benefit programs you may be eligible to receive. Benefits.gov is completely confidential and will not ask any information that could be used to identify you (i.e., name, address, phone number, Social Security number, etc.).

Why does Benefits.gov say that I "may" be eligible to receive benefits in my results list?

Benefits.gov says that you "may" be eligible for the programs in your Results List because 100% eligibility for any benefit program depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

The fact that we cannot guarantee eligibility for any benefit program as each program requires the completion of an application, which requests more detailed and personal information than what is asked for on Benefits.gov. Benefits.gov does not collect any personally identifiable information. Application information for each benefit program is obtainable through the "Next Steps" section of each benefit program description.
The number of questions you have answered in the Benefit Finder. With each additional question that you answer, we can better assess your actual eligibility for the programs in your Results List.
If the program or benefit eligibility requirements change between the time you visit Benefits.gov and the time you apply for the program.
If certain life circumstances change between the time you visit Benefits.gov and the time you apply for the program (i.e., getting married, having children, moving states, changing jobs).
Having a birthday, which could make you ineligible for age-specific programs.

To increase the likelihood of your eligibility for the programs in your Results List, please answer as many questions in the Benefit Finder as possible. Since benefit eligibility requirements frequently change, you should also occasionally check back with us to get an updated Results List, particularly if your life circumstances have changed.

What if I am helping someone else?

If you are answering the questionnaire on behalf of someone else (including a child), the term "you" applies to that person. Answer the questions as they apply to the person.

How much time will it take to complete the Benefit Finder questionnaire?

Depending on your personal situation, please allow 10 to 20 minutes to answer all of the questions. As the length of the questionnaire varies based on your answers, the more benefits you may be eligible to receive, the more questions you are likely to be asked. Having ready access to your personal information (e.g., financial, educational, familial) will enable you to more quickly complete the questionnaire.

Will my benefit results stay on the website for future reference?

No. If you exit or are otherwise disconnected from the Benefits.gov website, you will lose your benefits results list. To avoid losing your results, either print the results by using the print function in your internet browser, or email them to yourself by clicking the "email" icon at the top right corner of the results page.

Do I have to answer every question in the Benefit Finder questionnaire?

Benefits.gov recommends that you answer all of the questions presented, or as many as possible if your are unable or otherwise prefer not to answer specific questions. Answering all the questions increases the likelihood that you will be eligible for the programs that appear in your Benefit Results List.

What if I want to apply for a benefit program?

You cannot apply for benefit programs directly on the Benefits.gov website. For application information, refer to the "Next Steps" section in the program description for information on how to apply for any benefit program that you may be interested in.

Where did a benefit program that was previously available go?

Benefit programs come and go based on changing laws and funding constraints. As laws change, new legislation is passed, or the time limits for certain programs are reached, benefit programs may be affected. Eligibility requirements may change or the entire program may be eliminated. Therefore, a benefit program that may have once been suggested may no longer be available.