Helping Families in Need

Assistance programs are sorted into two areas – Family Programs and Adult Programs. There are several items applicants may need to provide during the application process including documents verifying age, citizenship, Colorado residency, income, SSN, resources, expenses, disability (if applicable), and application for SSI (if applicable).

Colorado PEAK

Assistance programs coordinate with Colorado PEAK for the application process and management. Acquire an account on Colorado PEAK to maximize the online services available. Colorado PEAK is operated at the state level. The PEAK Technical Support Call Center number is 1-800-250-7741, open 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday-Friday (closed on state holidays).

Family Programs

The Food Assistance Program enables families to supplement their food bill and buy nutritious food with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card (formerly call the QWEST card). Food Assistance recipients spend their benefits to buy eligible food in authorized retail food stores. This program is the cornerstone of Federal Food Assistance and provides crucial support to needy households and to those making the transition from assistance to work.

The Food Assistance Programs provide food benefits to households that meet the citizenship, income and resource guidelines for the Food Assistance Program. Employment first is the Food Assistance Employment and Training Program, which is a mandatory component of the Food Assistance Program.

Applicants are encouraged to create an account at Colorado PEAK to maximize the services available online.

Income Guidelines

Households have to meet income tests unless all members are receiving TANF, SSI, or in some places general assistance. Most households must meet both the gross and net income tests, but a household with an elderly person or a person who is receiving certain types of disability payments only has to meet the net income test. Households, except those noted, that have income over the amounts listed below cannot get Food Assistance benefits.

(Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018)

Household size Gross monthly income
(130 percent of poverty)
Net monthly income
(100 percent of poverty)
11,307$ 1,005
2 1,760$1,354
32,213$1,702
42,665$2,050
53,118$2,399
63,571
$2,747
7 4,024$3,095
84,477$3,444
Each additional member
+ 453+ 349

Note: Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income, before any deductions have been made. Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions.

Deductions are allowed as follows:

  • A 20 percent deduction from earned income;
  • A standard deduction of $157 for households sizes of 1 to 3 people; $168 for a household size of 4; $197 for a household size of 5; $226 for a household size of 6+;
  • A dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education;
  • Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members that are more than $35 for the month if they are not paid by insurance or someone else;
  • Legally owed child support payments;
  • Some States allow homeless households a set amount ($143) for shelter costs; and
  • Excess shelter costs that are more than half of the household’s income after the other deductions. Allowable costs include the cost of fuel to heat and cook with, electricity, water, the basic fee for one telephone, rent or mortgage payments and taxes on the home. (Some States allow a set amount for utility costs instead of actual costs.) The amount of the shelter deduction cannot be more than $490 unless one person in the household is elderly or disabled.

Food Assistance – The Food Assistance Program is a Federally funded program available to persons that meet the defined eligibility criteria. Participants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents or a qualified aliens.

Expedited Food Assistance – Households that meet the following criteria are required to have their application processed within seven calendar days of receipt by El Paso County DHS:

  • Liquid resources (bank accounts, etc) that do not exceed $100 and have less than $150 of gross monthly income in the calendar month of application OR
  • Combined monthly gross income and liquid resources are less than the household’s monthly rent/mortgage and utilities. (Example: $200 earned income + $75 in checking account, rent is $300)
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Identification (ID)

If you do not qualify for the Food Assistance Program, there are other resources available including:

For specific information related to Ongoing Food Assistance cases in El Paso County, please call (719) 444-5124.

Colorado Works is Colorado’s version of the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program provides cash assistance to low-income families. Colorado Works was designed to show it is possible to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency with logical support services.

The application process can be started online at Colorado PEAK. Benefits may also be checked online. You may also apply in person at the El Paso County Department of Human Services, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, 3rd Floor, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Please be aware that the County closes on certain holidays.

Applications for any Colorado Works program begins with an assessment. Assessments are conducted 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The assessment is designed to determine a family’s needs, challenges, strengths and level of job readiness. At the assessment family may choose one of the following Colorado Works programs.

State Diversion

State Diversion is an alternative to applying for ongoing Colorado Works. Ideal candidates are work-ready, eager to begin job search, have few barriers to employment yet still require financial assistance to sustain their families until employed.

Eligibility Criteria: Must meet Colorado Works income and non-financial criteria.

  • Families must have a dependent child in the home.
  • Participation is based on the employability assessment and job readiness – as defined by the applicant.

Services Provided:

  • The applicant is involved in job search designed to help the family find employment within 60 days. Services and payments are based on need and agreed upon during the development of an Individual Responsibility Contract.
  • Services include, but are not limited to: job search assistance, career counseling, financial assistance and case management. They also receive child care assistance (CCCAP), Medicaid, and Food Stamps. Participants can access on-site partners and other community referrals.

Time Limits:

  • Diversion is a time-limited program lasting 60 days in most cases. Failure to gain employment within the 60 day period can result in a roll over to Colorado Works or if the family failed to follow the contract they can be denied Colorado Works for 90 days.

Basic Cash Assistance (BCA)

Basic cash assistance is an ongoing employment and participation based financial assistance program for low income families with children. The goal of Colorado Works is to assist adults in becoming employment ready and to assist with job entry and retention. While receiving BCA, participants must participate in work related activities. All income received under the Basic Cash Assistance program counts toward the participant’s lifetime limit.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must have a dependent child, be a US citizen or legal alien and meet income and resource guidelines.
  • Adults complete an assessment and develop a self-sufficiency plan (Individualized Plan or IP).
  • All ColoradoWorks participants are required to participate in work-related activities.
  • Child Care eligibility is tied to activities included in IP.

Services Provided:

  • Financial assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid and Child Care are provided. Integrated case management including eligibility determination, family assessment, case planning, referral to employment and family stability services, monitoring progress and providing transition services.

Time Limits:

  • Adults have a 60-month lifetime limit. They must be involved in work activities every month beginning with month 24.

Relative Caregiver Program

The Family Services Team seeks to strengthen each family’s ability to maintain a supportive and stable home for their relative children by respecting what is unique within each family. The TANF child only program is designed to provide assistance to you for your relative child. If you are a grandparent/relative caregiver you may qualify to receive financial assistance through our program. In addition to financial assistance, services include:

  • Assistance with applying for Medicaid
  • Support group
  • Assistance with budgeting
  • Referrals to community organizations
  • Extracurricular activities

There are many reasons children are living with their relatives. Relatives are important because they:

  • Provide a safe home
  • Enable children to live with people they know and trust
  • Allow family relationships to be maintained and flourish
  • Create life-long family traditions and memories
  • Build good foundations

To access services and learn more about how we can help please call our information line for the Grandparent/Relative Caregiver Program at (719) 444-5226.

Additional resources:

Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) for low-income families include eligible adults and children ages 0 through 18. Health First Colorado provides medical benefits including inpatient and outpatient hospital, physician services, well child checks, immunizations, vision care including prescription glasses, prescription drugs, dental and mental health care. For adults over age 21, dental and vision benefits may be limited. Adults may incur a co-pay for services. Children must be residing in the home more than 50 percent of the time. Additional factors for eligibility include citizenship, legal residence, and household income. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing website summarizes all Medicaid offered programs and services to including what is covered and what is not covered under the program.

It is important to obtain a primary doctor and to see them for all medical needs that are not emergencies. Remember – if your doctor can treat your illness or injury in the office, Health First Colorado may not pay emergency room costs and you will be responsible for paying the bill. The primary care doctor will arrange referrals for other medical services. For specific information related to ongoing Family Medical Cases, please call: (719) 444-5349.

The application process and additional information is online at Colorado PEAK.

Pregnant Woman’s Assistance

The Health First Colorado Program for low-income pregnant women is based on citizenship, legal residence and household income. Eligible women will be provided with prenatal coverage, labor and delivery. A postpartum period of 60 days is also covered. Health First Colorado will only provide labor and delivery coverage for undocumented pregnant women who meet all other requirements of the program.

A woman may visit a Peak Vista Community Health Center for a pregnancy test. If the test is positive, the Peak Vista Health Center may do a presumptive eligibility screening for Health First Colorado. If the screening passes the eligibility requirements a presumptive eligibility card will be issued. This will allow the pregnant woman to begin prenatal care while the actual Health First Colorado application is being processed.

All babies born to women who are legal residents and eligible for Health First Colorado at the time of birth are automatically eligible for Health First Colorado coverage until their first birthday as long as they reside with their mother. When children meet their first birthday, they must meet all requirements of other Health First Colorado programs to receive medical coverage along with an application for the same.

  • Colorado PEAK – General Information
  • CHP+ Prenatal Program Information
  • Expanded Pregnant – Provides Health First Colorado covered services, including prenatal coverage, labor and delivery, and 60 days postpartum coverage for pregnant women.
  • Qualified Pregnant – Provides Health First Colorado covered services, including prenatal coverage, labor and delivery, and 60 days postpartum coverage for pregnant women.
  • State Only Prenatal – Provides Federal and State funding for labor and delivery and State funded prenatal care and 60 days postpartum care for documented non-citizen women who do not qualify for Health First Colorado, due to being in the U.S. less than five years.  (Recipients are ineligible for Health First Colorado except for emergency only services.)

Health First Colorado Child-Only Assistance

Health First Colorado programs for low-income children ages 0 through 18 are based on citizenship, legal residence and household income. Health First Colorado provides medical benefits including inpatient and outpatient hospital, physician services, well-child checks, immunizations, vision care including prescription glasses, prescription drugs, dental and mental health care.

Colorado Child Care Assistance Program

CCCAP is a program designed to provide child care subsidies to eligible low-income families for child care when in an eligible activity. Assistance in finding quality child care is also available by calling 877-338-2273 or visiting Colorado Shines online. If you have an active TANF case, please speak directly with your TANF technician about CCCAP. If you have any questions or would like more information about the program in El Paso County, please call (719) 444-8178 or fax (719) 444-8108.

Income Guidelines

Number of Persons in FamilyMaximum Gross Monthly Income
2$ 2,503.67
3$ 3,148.08
4$ 3,792.50
5$ 4,436.92
6$ 5,081.33
7$ 5,725.75
8$ 6,370.17
9$7,014.58

Example to Calculate Income
Weekly Gross  X  4.33 = Total Monthly Gross
NOTE: Household income includes all income earned and unearned gross income.

Eligible Activities

  • Employment
  • High school or GED for teen parents
  • Max 24 month lifetime limit of post-secondary education training for a first Bachelor’s Degree or less
  • Max 12 month lifetime limit for job skills training, Adult GED or high school diploma, English as a second language, adult basic education, or other basic skills training

NOTE: In a two-adult household, both adult caretakers must be in an eligible activity.

Applications and documents may be submitted at the El Paso County Department of Human Services, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods, 3rd Floor, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Please be aware that the County is closed on holidays.

General Questions and Comments

To be eligible for Low Income CCCAP, you must be in an eligible activity.  In addition, the total family gross income must be under the maximum income guidelines for the family size.

Are the children that will use child care under the age of 13? If so, the children needing child care are within the age guidelines for child care subsidies. Children who are 13 or older but under the age of 19 and meet the “special needs” criteria and have written verification from a physician or other appropriate professional, may be eligible.

Are you a teen parent? Teen parents must be in an eligible activity and under the income guidelines. Teen parent eligibility does not include their parent’s income even if they are still living at home.

All recipients of CCCAP must comply with child support services for children with an absent parent (one that is not in the home).

If approved, how would I access my benefits? The CCCAP program utilizes an Attendance Tracking System (ATS) at individual child care providers. Recipients of CCCAP are required to use their unique PIN to check their child in and out of care each day child care is authorized and used. If the ATS system is not used properly, CCCAP recipients could incur private pay charges from the child care provider.

How long does the application process take? Processing time is 15-30 calendar days after the application is received at the county office. Applications must be approved or denied on the 15th day. Unfortunately, many applications are denied because they are incomplete. A verification checklist is included in the application package to assist applicants in the process.

CCCAP Application Materials:

Attendance Tracking Videos:

The Burial Assistance program determines eligibility for State contributions toward the payment of funeral, cremation, and/or burial expenses for deceased individuals who were receiving public and/or medical assistance benefits at the time of death and who meet the additional eligibility requirements for the State Burial Assistance Program.

Individuals who received one of the following public and/ or medical assistance programs may be eligible:

  • Old Age Pension (OAP)
  • State Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND)
  • State Aid to the Blind (AB)
  • Aid to the Needy Disabled/Supplemental Security Income-Colorado Supplement (AND/SSI CS)
  • Aid to the Blind/Supplemental Security Income – Colorado Supplement (AB/SSI CS)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families/Colorado Works (TANF/CW)
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare Savings Program

Additional Requirements:

  • The estate of the deceased is insufficient to pay reasonable expenses
  • The persons legally responsible for the support of the deceased are unable to pay because of insufficient resources
  • The total cost of the funeral, cremation, and/or burial cannot exceed $2,500
  • The deceased individual must meet verification requirements for the program they were receiving at the time of death
  • An application for burial benefits must be provided to the county office within a year from the date of death
  • An invoice for services provided must be provided in order to pay the burial expense

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I have to bring to the County Department of Human Services
office to apply for burial benefits?

In order to process the burial quickly it will be helpful if you provide the following:

  • A complete burial application
  • An invoice of services from an established provider
  • Verification of resources (if applicable) for responsible persons as of the date of death

What if the burial amount exceeds the $2,500 limit, but someone chooses to contribute toward the funeral/cremation to decrease the cost to $2,500?

The total cost of the funeral/cremation cannot exceed $2,500. Any money voluntarily contributed by a spouse or parent(s) is used to reduce the state contribution.

Do I have to be related to the deceased recipient to apply for burial benefits for them?

No you do not. The Burial Assistance Program is based on the eligibility of the deceased individual, not the applicant. Keep in mind however the resources of the parents (if the deceased is a minor child) or spouse are considered available for payment of funeral, cremation, and/or burial expenses and must be insufficient to pay for the funeral, cremation, or burial expenses.

Can we pay for the burial before payment is made to the provider by the County, and then have the funeral provider pay us back after they receive payment?

No. The Burial Program is not a reimbursement program. If payment is rendered prior to payment by the State of Colorado, that amount will reduce the payment amount made. If the amount is paid in full, no payment will be issued by the State of Colorado for funeral/burial services. This includes charging a credit card and reimbursing the amount after the provider is paid.

Which funeral/burial provider can be used?

Providers for funeral/burial services must complete the provider process with the State of Colorado. This process can take a series of months. If you choose a provider that has not completed this process, payment will not be made to them until the process is complete.

Adult Financial, Adult Medical and Long Term Care Programs

The Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND) program provides cash assistance to low-income Colorado residents, age 18 and over, who have at least a six-month total disability that precludes them from working. Aid to Blind (AB) falls under the AND program.

  • Pays maximum monthly cash benefit of $189 gross a month effective 8-1-2014
  • Must be 18-59 years of age
  • Must be a citizen of the United States, a naturalized citizen, or an eligible legal resident
  • Resource/asset limit $2000
  • Must apply for SSI at the Social Security Office
  • Must be or expected to be totally disabled for 6 months or more
  • Med-9 report must be completed by a Colorado licensed or certified M.D., D.O, PA (physician’s assistant), advance practice nurse, RN, Optometrist or Psychiatrist

Other Requirements

  • You will need to provide a doctor’s form verifying your disability will last at least 6-months and a statement that your disability precludes you from working any job. You can print the doctor’s form, which is called a MED 9 and take it to your doctor.
  • To receive AND benefits, you must sign an IM-14 form saying you will repay AND benefits with the SSI benefits you are eligible to receive in the same month. Your lump sum SSI check will go to the county to repay the AND program.

Other Requirements for Aid to Blind (AB)

  • You will need to provide a doctor’s form verifying: Less than a 10% visual acuity in the better eye with corrections; or
  • Not more than 20/200 central vision acuity in the better eye with correction.
  • You can print the doctor’s form, which is called an AB-5 and take it to your doctor.
  • To receive AB benefits, you must sign an IM-14 form saying you will repay AB benefits with the SSI benefits you are eligible to receive in the same month.
  • Your lump sum SSI check will go to the county to repay the AB program.

The Old Age Pension (OAP) program provides cash assistance and may provide medical benefits for low-income adults age 60 or older:

  • Must be 60 years of age or older
  • Must be lawfully in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years
  • Maximum grant is $788 minus any existing earned/unearned income received by client or spouse, including any Social Security income
  • Medicare premium may be paid by the State
  • Resource limit $2000 for an individual, $3000 a couple
  • Colorado OAP Health Care Program benefits for 60 – 64 year olds, Health First Colorado for clients 65 or older

OAP Health First Colorado

Home Care Allowance (HCA) provides financial assistance to individuals with functional limitations not receiving other Adult Financial services. The purpose of this allowance is to secure services for an individual, which can help him/her remain in his/her home. A Single Entry Point agency will determine the functional capacity and need:

  • Provides assistance with activities of daily living
  • Must have your own designated provider
  • A referral from DHS has to be initiated
  • Rocky Mountain Health Care Services must do an HCA assessment

The Long Term Care program is available to individuals who are Health First Colorado eligible and at risk of placement in a skilled nursing facility, alternative care facility, hospital stays of thirty days or more; or intermediate care facility for individuals with developmental disabilities:

  • Home Community Based Services (HCBS), Assisted Living ( ACF), Nursing Home (NF), 30-day institutionalized Med
  • Must meet citizenship, income, resource, disability, and level of care criteria
  • When all criteria are met Health First Colorado benefits are approved/ provider payments can be made
  • Income maximum $2250 a month, an Income Trust can be established if income exceeds $2250 but is below $7605
  • Income trust cannot be used for 30 day med stays in hospital
  • Resource/asset limit $2000 per individual, $123,600 for married couples if only one spouse is seeking long term care (includes $2000 for LTC applicant) (effective 1-1-2018
  • Resource limit is $3000 for a couple if both are applying
  • Resource limit is $4000 if a couple is applying and are in the same room in nursing home
  • Married couples who are separated are still considered married for LTC eligibility
  • Level of care is determined by a case management agency
  • May need to complete additional Medicaid Disability Application; process can take up to 90 days
  • For nursing home cases all gross income except PNA of $84.41 or $79 or $90 depending on the source of income or if receives VA goes toward cost of care
  • Medicare premium may be paid by the State
  • A community spouse may be eligible for additional income from Health First Colorado spouse

Home Community Based Services (HCBS)

The Home Community Based Services (HCBS) is a Long Term Care program providing services that allow individuals to remain in the community for as long as possible.  HCBS provides additional benefits to specific populations including:

  • Children’s HCBS Waiver
  • HCBS-Children with Autism Waiver
  • Children’s Extensive Support
  • HCBS – Persons with Brain Injury
  • HCBS – Colorado Mental Health Services
  • HCBS – Persons who are Elderly, Blind and Disabled
  • Supportive Living Services
  • Waiver for Persons Developmentally Disabled
  • Children’s Life Behavior and Illness

SSI- Health First Colorado/1634 & SSI/CO Supp

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Mandatory/1634 Health First Colorado provides benefits if the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines they are eligible for SSI. Income, expenses and resources are determined by SSA:

  • Must be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • May qualify for additional cash assistance up to $750 a month minus existing SSI income received by client, spouse or parent effective 1-1-20178
  • Resource/asset limit $2000
  • Health First Colorado benefit approved with SSI approval letter from Social Security – No Application Required
  • Automatic Health First Colorado coverage if receive at least $1 SSI

Family Health First Colorado Category (effective 1-1-2014)

  • Be age 19 through 64 and not have a Health First Colorado dependent child
  • Income limit of 133 percent of Federal Poverty Level
  • State AND benefits of $189 are excluded effective 1-1-2014
  • Not be eligible for any other Health First Colorado category
  • Not eligible for Medicare

Health First Colorado Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities (effective 3-1-2012)

  • Adult age 16 but less than 65 years of age
  • Must have partial or full time employment
  • Must have a qualifying disability
  • Income of limit of 450 percent of Federal Poverty Level with certain income deductions
  • No resource limit
  • Receive regular Health First Colorado benefits
  • Premium payments are based on income on a sliding scale

Health First Colorado Buy-In for Children with Disabilities (effective 7-1-2012)

  • This is a family Health First Colorado Assistance Program benefit
  • Child is under age 19
  • Child has a qualifying disability
  • Adjusted family income is at or below 300 percent of Federal Poverty Level
  • No resource limit
  • Child(ren) enrolled will receive regular Health First Colorado benefits
  • Premium payments are based on adjusted monthly income on a sliding scale

Medicare Savings programs may help persons receiving Medicare Part A by paying the premiums of various Medicare programs. A summary of programs and eligibility information is posted and updated on the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing adult program snapshot website. The process to determine eligibility can also be started by activating an account on Colorado PEAK.

QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary)

  • Only pays for monthly Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-insurance
  • Eligibility begins the month after the application is approved
  • Prescriptions are covered under Medicare D
  • Must currently be eligible for Medicare A
  • Income $1032 for an individual, $1392 for couple
  • Resources $9060 or an individual, $14, 340 for a couple effective 1/01/2018

SLMB (Special Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary)

  • Only pays Medicare Part B premium only
  • Benefit may go retroactive 90 days
  • Must currently be eligible for Medicare Part A
  • Income $1234 for an individual, $1666 for couple
  • Resources $9060 or an individual, $14,340 for a couple effective 1/01/2018

QI-1 (Qualified Individuals)

  • Only pays Medicare Part B premium
  • Benefit may go retroactive 90 days
  • Must currently be eligible for Medicare Part A
  • Income $1386 for an individual, $1872 for couple
  • Resources $9060 or an individual, $14,340 for a couple effective 1/01/2018

QDWI

  • Cover Medicare Part A
  • Not eligible for SSDI because of earnings
  • Cannot be eligible for any other Health First Colorado category
  • Income $2044 for an individual $2764 for couple
  • Resources $4000 for an individual $6000 for couple

Here are additional resources that are available:

Mapping Economic Assistance

Eligibility for economic assistance depends on program specifics and particular guidelines. The maps below offer a visual representation of economic assistance in El Paso County.