A senior in Iowa is considered to be on a low income if their household’s total income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. If a senior satisfies the criteria, they may qualify for subsidized state and/or federal government services for an array of purposes, such as paying some household costs (including energy bills), as well as costs for care in a nursing home.

How Iowa Decides if Someone’s Income is Low

Defining low income isn’t simply a matter of finding one figure, as the type of program the person is applying for also factors. In Iowa, this means having a total annual household income of anywhere between 50% and 200% of the federal poverty line. The state considers numerous variables to determine someone’s income. These include all sources of income, including Social Security and pensions, as well as the cash they currently have in their checking and saving accounts. It’s important to note that Iowa considers the entire household’s income, not just the person making an application for benefits.

Seniors who consider themselves low-income should expect other factors to be considered as well. The type of benefit claimed will determine what these are. As an example, a single person applying for Medicaid can’t have assets exceeding $2,000 ($3,000 for a married applicant). Most income is considered countable in Iowa, but defining countable and uncountable assets can be more complicated, particularly if the senior is applying for Medicaid to cover nursing home costs while their spouse remains at home.

Benefits for Iowa Seniors with Low Incomes

Seniors deemed to have a low income can be eligible for an array of programs designed to ease their financial burden. However, the senior must satisfy each program’s other qualifying criteria as income alone isn’t sufficient. These programs include Iowa Medicaid, which can pay the costs of in-home care or placement in a skilled nursing facility for seniors with qualifying medical conditions.

Homeowners aged 65 or older can claim tax relief through the Property Tax Credit for Seniors and Disabled Citizens program. Homeowners and renters can apply for assistance to make their homes safer and more energy efficient through the Weatherization Assistance Program, which can cover home insulation costs and the removal/repair of health and safety hazards. Families with at least one resident aged 60 or older can apply for a one-off payment toward their energy bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). At the federal level, USDA’s Section 504 Home Repair Program provides grants to adults aged 62 or older to cover home modification costs, such as installing a wheelchair ramp.