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Old Age Assistance

Posted on:2/21/2012
The Social Security Act did not establish a program of old-age assistance; it merely made it possible for a state to receive Federal funds if the state established one.

Providing the state met all of the Federal requirements, the Federal Government would reimburse the state for a portion of its expenditures. Such expenditures are usually given to an eligible recipient in cash, in a regular monthly payment, and in an amount determined by state law and his individual needs and resources.


All states now have an Old Age Assistance program. All public assistance programs under the Social Security Act must meet certain standard Federal requirements. Federal law allows no latitude to the state on matters of age. All states have the required age of 65.


Persons receiving Old Age Assistance must be in need. The states have wide discretion to determine who is a needy person. The majority of the states have a general standard of need which defines a needy person as one whose income or other resources are insufficient to provide "reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health."


Theoretically, the states develop a budget of need. This budget includes allowances for food, presumed to be based on at least minimum food requirements and priced out in terms of current actual cost; clothing; rent, including utilities; and other items, depending on the state. The other most common items include household supplies, medical care and drugs, and transportation. In actual practice, the standards are frequently developed in relation to the maximum payments permitted by the state law in those states where there is such a legal limitation. Most states develop a complete budget of need for every case even where the maximum payment is too low to permit meeting such need.

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