Each county in Colorado has an office where state funds are used to help people in need. The office is usually called the Department of Human Services, but may also be called the Department of Public Welfare or Department of Social Services or something close to that. Each county office in Colorado is run independently and operates a little differently from others. You can apply for several different types of aid at county departments of human services.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) used to be called the Food Stamp Program. If you apply for food assistance, certain members of your household, probably you, are required to register to work.
Colorado Works includes Employment First, an employment-related program for people who apply for food assistance, and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) that helps applicants raising a child.
Aid to the Needy and Disabled (AND) provides a small cash benefit to people between 18 and 59 who are low income and have a six-month total disability.
A department of human services office can also help you apply for the Child Health Plan Plus Program if you have children, affordable private health insurance, and tax credits to help pay for health coverage.
It can be faster to visit a service office in person, explain what you need, and fill out an application while you’re there. Ask to make an appointment for a screening interview, and be sure to explain your situation carefully when the time for your interview comes. Sometimes the waiting room can be very full. Lines may be shorter early in the morning and/or during the middle to the end of the month. Some human service offices have people called behavioral health navigators who can help you find mental health services — always ask for help if you need it.
If you’re comfortable with computers, you can also apply online on the Colorado PEAK website. PEAK stands for Program Eligibility Application Kit. It is the application in Colorado for human service programs and medical insurance, including Medicaid.
Both U.S. citizens and legal non-citizens are eligible to apply for services. If you are not sure about your eligibility, ask during the screening interview. The good news is that many non-citizens are eligible for programs such as food assistance through their children or length of time in the country, so be sure to ask. Non-citizens may also be eligible for emergency medical services. Human Services offices do not contact ICE.
If you were convicted for a drug-related felony on or after July 1, 1997, you may not be eligible for certain programs unless the county decides you have taken action toward rehabilitation. An example of this would be taking a substance abuse class. Ask for more information if you have a drug-related felony from after July 1997.
You will be asked to fill out a detailed form called the Application for Public Assistance.To get started, you’ll have to enter your name, street address, and Social Security number on the application and sign it. You’ll also have to tell them the programs you want to apply for. You’ll need documentation to complete the application.
You’ll save time if you bring the necessary paperwork with you for a screening interview. Read below to learn what you need to bring. If you don’t have access to all your information, the person conducting your interview may be able to help.
You must provide full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for the people applying for benefits. You must verify your identity using a driver’s license or state ID, birth certificate, or another document such as a work or school ID. If you’re an immigrant, bring your Legal Permanent Resident Card or I-94.
Family & Dependents
If someone in the home is pregnant, offer the due date and number of babies for that pregnancy. Most of the time you will be asked to verify the pregnancy with a note from a doctor. If you pay for someone’s care, such as daycare for your children, say who provides that care and how much you pay for it.
Employment, Banking & Taxes
If someone in the home is working, present pay stubs for that person’s job(s). You will be asked how much each person makes at his/her job, how often he/she is paid, and how many hours he/she works. If someone in the home is self-employed, offer last year’s tax return for his/her self-employment (if he/she filed taxes for the business) or at least try to gather information about his/her income and expenses for the business. If you’re applying for Food Assistance, you will be asked about the total amount of money you have at home and in your checking accounts and savings accounts.
If you get benefits, such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Child Support, you may be asked to bring your benefit check stubs or award letters for types of income. You’ll be asked when these benefits started, how much is received, and how often it is received.
Housing & Related Bills
If you’re paying for housing, you’ll be asked how much you pay each month for housing (examples: rent, lot rent, mortgage, property taxes, or homeowner’s insurance). You’ll also be asked how much you pay each month for utilities (examples: electricity, gas, phone, water, and trash removal).
If you’re turned down for assistance and you think the department made a mistake, you can ask for something called a Fair Hearing. Ask the department to tell you in writing how to make your appeal. If you were sanctioned by a program such as Employment First or TANF (also called Colorado Works), ask the department if it is possible for you to apply for a lift of the sanction.