In North Carolina, seniors are considered low income when they earn less than 80% of the area median income, which the U.S. Census reports as $60,516 for households and $34,209 for individuals as of 2021. This means that senior households earning less than $48,412.80 or individuals earning less than $27,367.20 annually are considered low income in the state. Earning less than 50% of the area median income classifies someone as very low income, which is $30,258 for a two-person household or a single person earning $17,104.50 or less annually. 

North Carolina offers financial assistance programs for low-income and poverty-level seniors for health care, including home health care, and food expenses. These programs have individual financial eligibility guidelines that should be checked before applying, as some seniors on the higher end of low income may not qualify. Many of these programs use the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines to determine eligibility, which is defined as a single person earning less than $14,580 per year or a household of two as earning less than $19,720 per year.

Health Care Assistance for Low-Income Seniors in North Carolina

Medicaid in North Carolina provides eligible individuals access to health care and medication assistance. Single seniors can have an annual household income of up to $18,075 before taxes, and households of two can have an annual income of up to $24,353 before taxes to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Seniors who qualify for various home-based and community services may also qualify for private nursing, home health services and other programs designed for people who need a nursing home level of care that can be met at home. These programs keep seniors in their homes and can provide assistance with activities of daily living and medical care. The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) allows seniors to manage their own care and determine what suits their needs best.

Other Assistance for Low-Income Seniors in North Carolina

Other state and federal programs provide assistance for other expenses, such as food, energy and living expenses. The Food and Nutrition Services program provides a monthly benefit stipend for food expenses. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) provides assistance with energy expenses that prioritizes low-income seniors aged 60 or older.

The Housing and Home Improvement Program can provide a $1,500 benefit to provide minor repairs, including mobility and accessibility improvements, to homes of seniors aged 60 or older. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides qualifying seniors a monthly cash benefit, regardless of whether seniors have paid into Social Security. Seniors may receive both Social Security and SSI if they meet income eligibility.