Seniors in Idaho are considered low income if they make less than 80% of the state’s median annual income, and are considered very low income if they make less than 50% of the median annual income. The 2021 U.S. Census reports the median household income in Idaho as $63,377 and the per capita income as $31,509. Using those numbers, a household income of less than $50,701.60 or a single senior with an income of less than $25,207.20 would be classified as low income. Households receiving less than $31,688.50 or single seniors receiving less than $15,754.40 would be classified as very low income. Approximately 11% of people in Idaho live in poverty.

Several programs, both federal and state, exist to assist low-income seniors make ends meet. These include programs for health care, including home health care, food costs and cash for living expenses. However, many of these programs have income requirements that are lower than the low-income threshold and are targeted toward very low income households.

Medicaid Coverage for Low-Income Seniors

The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare manages the state’s Medicaid program, which offers health care services for low-income seniors, people with disabilities and families. The Medicaid for Elderly or Adults with Disabilities program provides access to many services for eligible individuals under the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program. Eligible services include, but are not limited to, home health aides, case management, homemaker services, personal care, adult day health services and respite care. Other services may also be approved by a case manager if they help prevent individuals from being institutionalized. To qualify for HCBS, seniors must have a monthly income of less than $2,762 for individuals or $5,504 for couples, and also have no more than $2,000 in resources per person. Long-term care is also offered under Idaho’s Nursing Home coverage

Other Assistance for Low-Income Seniors

Low-Income seniors may also qualify for other assistance, including help with food costs and living expenses. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides qualifying seniors with a monthly benefit for use on food products. A household of one will qualify with an income under $1,473 per month and a household of two qualifies if their monthly income is under $1,984. The benefit amount varies based on income and household size.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides eligible seniors and disabled adults with a monthly cash benefit to be used as the senior sees fit. SSI is separate from the Social Security program and unlike Social Security, seniors are not required to have paid into the program. It is funded by the U.S. Treasury general funds rather than through Social Security taxes. Some seniors may receive both SSI and Social Security benefits at the same time.