17 Legit Ways to Get Free Money from the Government
Scammers use the promise of free government money to wrangle personal information out of their victims. Rest assured, you can trust these government programs.
Find new benefits
The benefits.gov Benefit Finder does the grunt work for you by searching your state’s benefit programs to find out which ones you might qualify for. You’ll enter information such as your income, military status, health conditions, and more, and the site will reveal the benefit programs you might apply for, such as nutrition programs and career development aid. Plus, make sure you know these surprising things senior citizens can get free or discounted.
Save money on heating and cooling
The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program gives states grants to help low-income families have more energy-efficient homes. Some call this “free government money,” but it also helps our society’s overall energy efficiency. By sealing cracks, insulating pipes, replacing windows, installing efficient lighting, and more, households could save more than 20 percent on energy bills for hot water and indoor temperature control. Visit waptac.org to find out what your state can offer. Your request will be nothing compared to these crazy things the government wasted money on.
Receive free government money for your energy bill
Becoming energy-efficient isn’t the only way free government money can save you a hefty price on your bills. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) sends cash grants to utility companies to help families who risk losing heat in their homes because they’re unable to pay. Visit the LIHEAP contacts list to learn how to get in touch your state representative. Here are 11 more genius ways to save on household bills.
Get unclaimed pension payments
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is in charge of making sure retirees whose pension plans ended still get paid. To find out if you or a loved one is owed money, search the name on the Unclaimed Pensions page of pbgc.gov. Since one may pay into a pension for their whole working life, qualifying this as free government money might be a stretch, but it definitely helps seniors in need.
Discover unclaimed property
Every state has its own program to match forgotten assets up with their owners. In the 2015 fiscal year, for instance, state governments had $7.8 billion worth of unclaimed property on file and returned $3.2 billion to its owners. To find out if you have any rightful property you didn’t know about, visit that National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) site at unclaimed.org, which will direct you to your state treasury’s unclaimed property page. If you think you might have assets across more than one state, visit missingmoney.com, which is a NAUPA-sponsored search engine.
Claim your tax refund
Filing for a refund is a no-brainer, but millions of dollars in federal tax refunds go unclaimed every year, like after taxpayers switch addresses. Though you might think of a tax refund as free government money, in reality, it’s rightfully yours. If you expected money back but didn’t see a check within six weeks, you can call the IRS (though expect a long wait) or check your refund status online.
Replace ruined money
Whether your bill has been water damaged, burned, or nibbled by pests, you’re not out of luck if your money isn’t usable anymore. The Treasury Department recovers $30 million worth of damaged currency every year. As long as more than half of the bill is identifiable, or you can prove that the missing portions are totally destroyed, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will reimburse you if you submit a claim. Just be warned: Wait times can range anywhere from six months to three years.
Free yourself of student loans
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As long as you’ve made ten year’s worth of monthly payments for your student loans and are working full-time for a government agency or not-for-profit organization, you might not need to pay the rest. Visit the Federal Student Aid office to find out if you qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It’s not a quick end to student loans you’ve only had for a few years, but having the balance wiped out of a long-standing payment plan with free government money could help massively. Find out real parents’ advice for sending kids to college without taking out loans.
Recover from a scam
If you’ve been scammed—like when entering a sweepstake that turns out to be fake or being gypped by a misleading online shopping company—the government could help get your money back. File a claim with the Federal Trade Commission and if the agency sides with you, it might be able to send you a refund. Watch out for these phone scams that steal your money to avoid the problem in the first place.
Ask for free tax return prep
The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a free service that helps you make the most of your tax refund. Anyone with disabilities, who speaks limited English, or makes less than $54,000 is welcome to join. Bring the right documents, and an IRS-certified volunteer will guide you through the process. Check the location finder for your local spots and hours. Don’t miss these other 32 things tax accountants won’t tell you for free.