What is Benefits.gov?

Benefits.gov provides information on more than 1,200 Federal and state benefit and assistance programs. As the official benefits website of the U.S. government, Benefits.gov is a Partnership of Federal agencies with a shared vision – to deliver improved, personalized access to government assistance programs and eligibility criteria.

How often should I use Benefits.gov?

Benefits.gov is free, so visit as often as you like. We recommend you visit Benefits.gov as time passes or after major life events, as new benefit programs are created over time and your life events could affect what you may be eligible for.

How do I apply or check my application status for a benefit program?

You cannot apply for benefit programs or check your application status directly on the Benefits.gov website. Benefits.gov is intended to help you find eligible benefit programs, prescreen you or your family’s eligibility, and guide you on the next steps in the application process. For application information, refer to the “Your Next Steps” section in the program description. 

How does the Search function work?

The Search function finds programs related to the words or phrases you enter in the Search box. Here are some tips to make your search more effective:
 

  • Make sure you spell search words correctly.
  • Vary your search terms. 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 words within quotation marks. For example, "special milk program."
How do I view “popular benefits” in my area?

Benefits.gov offers personalized features on the homepage and benefit detail pages. On the homepage, you will find a list of the most popular benefits viewed by other people in your area. For example, if you are currently in Virginia, a list of popular benefits in Virginia will appear on the homepage under ‘Popular Benefits in…’. If you are interested in popular benefits in another state, you can click ‘Change Location’ and select the state in which you’d like to see benefits. When viewing information on the Benefit Details page, you can select from a list of ‘Similar Benefits’ that appear on the right side of the page.

What should I know about Government Financial Assistance?

Government assistance comes in many forms, including loans, grants, and benefits. The government provides assistance through programs that serve various purposes, such as job training, nutritional assistance, education, and health care. To receive government assistance, you must complete an application and meet eligibility requirements outlined by each program. Not all programs provide cash payments, and those that do may have conditions and limitations.

Loans - Loans are awarded to an individual as a personal benefit or assistance. You are required to pay back a loan, often with interest. Whether you are looking for student loans, help with housing or business needs, or disaster relief, GovLoans.gov can help you find government loans you may be eligible to receive.

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. We recommend Grants.gov to search for grants and to guide you through the Federal grant application process.


Benefits - There are many types of benefit programs ranging from childcare assistance, to food and nutrition, educational programs, and more. Benefits.gov can help you start your benefits search by connecting you to programs you may be eligible to receive. Start your search with the following options:
 

  • Use the Benefit Finder – Take the confidential eligibility questionnaire. Your answers will generate a list of benefits tailored to your needs across all assistance categories.
  • Browse Benefits – Have a specific need? Select "Browse" at the top of the page to browse benefit and assistance programs by category, state, or Federal agency.
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 1,200 Federally-funded benefits.

 

We recommend you answer as many questions as possible for the most accurate benefit Results list. Benefits.gov will ask broad questions about your personal situation and as you answer, the questions will become more specific as the system narrows the list of programs you may be eligible to receive. Benefits.gov is completely confidential and will not ask for any information that could be used to identify you (e.g., name, address, phone number, Social Security number, etc.)

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

Eligibility for any program depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
 

  • Each program requires an application, which requests more information than what is asked for on Benefits.gov. Benefits.gov does not collect any personally identifiable information.
  • The number of questions you answered in the Benefit Finder. With each question you answer, we can better assess your eligibility for the programs in your Results list.
  • If the program 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 (e.g., getting married, having children, moving states, changing jobs).
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 looking to receive the government assistance.

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 questions. Having access to your personal information (e.g., financial, educational, familial) will help you more quickly complete the questionnaire.

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

No. If you exit or are 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, or email them to yourself by clicking "email" at the top right corner of the Results page.

Where did a benefit program that was previously available go?

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 program that may have once been suggested may no longer be available.