An income of less than 80% of the Minnesota median household income of $77,706 or individual income of $41,204 is considered a low income for seniors in Minnesota. Using these figures, a senior household receiving less than $62,164 annually or a single senior receiving less than $32,963 annually would be considered low income. Incomes of less than 50% of the area median income is considered a very low income. Senior households receiving less than $38,853 per year or a single senior receiving less than $20,602 per year would be considered living on a very low income.

Approximately 9% of people in Minnesota are considered living in poverty, which is defined by the Federal Poverty Guidelines as $14,580 per year for a household of one and $19,720 per year for a household of two, according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Assistance for low-income seniors is often based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines rather than what is deemed a low income in Minnesota. In some cases, those living on a low income in Minnesota will not qualify for financial assistance from state and federal programs. Financial eligibility varies depending on each program’s guidelines. 

Medicaid for Low-Income Seniors in Minnesota

Medicaid is a federal program managed at the state level to provide health care assistance to eligible low-income individuals and households. To qualify, seniors must be 65 or older or have a qualifying disability. It is also available to pregnant women or those responsible for a child under the age of 18. To qualify, a single applicant must have an income of less than $18,075 per year. A household of two must make less than $24,353 per year.

Seniors on Medicaid may qualify for the Elderly Waiver program to fund home and community-based services if they require a nursing home level of care. Participating in this program allows seniors to receive extended home health care services, personal care assistance, chore services and other support necessary to keep them at home. Some seniors, depending on income, may be required to pay for a portion of their care under this program.

Other Assistance for Low-Income Seniors in Minnesota

Various other programs exist to provide low-income seniors with financial assistance. These include assistance with utilities, cash benefits and food assistance. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides seniors with a monthly benefit to use on approved food costs. The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) provides both low-income renters and homeowners with assistance paying for energy and water bills. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides eligible low-income or disabled seniors in Minnesota with a monthly cash benefit. Minnesota also offers the Minnesota Supplemental Aid program to provide additional cash benefits to seniors receiving SSI and to some who do not meet the eligibility requirements for SSI.