General Assistance Program

Every town in Maine has a General Assistance program that helps people in need who have no other resources.  Assistance is provided for basic necessities, such as affordable housing, utilities, and food. City of Old Town General Assistance is available to Old Town residents only.


General Assistance Applications are taken by appointment only.  To make an appointment, please call (207) 827-3965 x107, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 am to 10 am.

Qualifications for General Assistance

To receive General Assistance (GA) your income must fall below the State’s overall maximum level of assistance for our area and your household size.

The first time you apply for GA, if you have never applied previously anywhere in the State, your income will be the only information the caseworker will need to figure out your benefit. Every time you apply, after the first time, you will have to show that you are doing everything you have been asked to do to reduce your need for assistance.

The amount of assistance you receive depends upon your situation. Assistance may be granted for a period of time that is no longer than one month, although it may be granted for shorter periods, such as a week at a time.  If you need GA, your request is to help with current bills; GA does not pay for back bills.

What to bring

In order to receive assistance you must apply in person. If for some special reason that is not possible, an application may be taken over the phone. 

When you apply, you will be asked to give the caseworker whatever information is necessary to determine if you are eligible. You should bring:

  • Identification and Social Security cards of all household members
  • DHHS benefit letter
  • Check stubs, AFDC/TANF statements, or other proof of household income
  • Your most recent bills and receipts for your rent or mortgage, heating fuel, electricity, food, medical expenses
  • Canceled checks, receipts, or other documents that show how you have spent any income you received during the past 30 days (repeat applicants)
  • Bank statement for the past 30 days with current balance
  • Names and address of your landlord for verification
  • A doctor’s statement if you are ill, disabled, or not able to work
Remember, it is up to you to show that you are eligible for general assistance. If you do not bring in all the information that has been asked for, the caseworker may have to deny your request for assistance until you provide the needed information.

Work requirement

If you are unemployed or underemployed, but able to work, you must:
  • register for work at the Maine Job Service
  • actively look for work
  • accept any job offer
  • participate in any no-cost training, retraining, educational, or rehabilitative program that would help you get a job if referred to such a program by your caseworker
  • agree to work for the City if assigned to a "workfare" program

If you do not comply with the work requirements, and you do not have a good reason for not complying, you will not be eligible to receive GA for 120 days.

If you have been working, but quit your job without a good reason or got fired from your job for misconduct, you are automatically ineligible to receive assistance for 120 days from the date of separation from your employment.

Income and resources

You are required to use your income for basic necessities. The City has adopted use-of-income guidelines that the caseworker will expect you to follow. These guidelines will ask you to spend your money on certain basic needs.

In addition, you must use any and all resources that would reduce your need for GA. If you refuse to use a resource without a good reason, you will be ineligible to receive assistance until you do so. These resources include:

  • AFDC,TANF, SSI, SNAP, HEAP fuel benefits, and other government programs
  • Trust funds
  • alimony or child support programs
  • educational, retraining, medical, or rehabilitative programs
  • assistance from relatives legally liable for your support
  • unnecessary assets, such as extra vehicles and real estate, which you may be required to sell


The information concerning your request for assistance, including the application, budget sheet, decision, and other information in your case is strictly confidential. You, your attorney, the caseworker, and certain government personnel may review your records, but the general public may not review your records unless you have given your permission.

Welfare fraud

It is very important that you tell the truth when you apply for assistance. If the caseworker finds out that you have not told the truth, you will be disqualified from receiving GA for 120 days. In addition, the administrator may refer your case over to the Police Department or the District Attorney’s office for committing welfare fraud, which is a Class E crime.


You have the responsibility to:

  • provide complete and accurate information
  • provide written documentation of your expenses (bills, receipts, etc.)
  • notify the caseworker if there are any changes in your circumstances (income, etc.)
  • use your income for basic necessities (food, rent, fuel, utilities, medicine, clothing).
  • make every effort to use potential resources, including other government benefit programs, private pensions, support payments, etc.
  • attempt to find and accept work
  • not quit work or get fired for misconduct
  • participate in an education or training program to help you become employed
  • sell your non-essential assets at fair market price (vehicles, boats, real estate, etc.)
  • find affordable housing within your ability to pay
  • request assistance with bills that are current (due that month)
  • check fuel supply (oil, wood, gas) on a regular basis and request GA before running out
  • notify caseworker when you receive a "shut off" notice, before being disconnected
  • tell the truth - if you don’t you’ll be disqualified for 120 days and may be prosecuted for committing a crime

Fair Hearing

If you do not agree with the caseworker’s decision, you can ask for further explanation.

If you still disagree, you can appeal the decision to the Fair Hearing Authority. The Fair Hearing Authority is appointed by the City Council upon recommendation by the City Manager.  No member of the hearing committee will have participated in the initial decision on your request for assistance.


The current Fair Hearing Authority is Assistant City Manager Travis Roy.


You must request the hearing in writing within 5 working days after receiving your decision. After you made a request, a hearing will be scheduled within 5 working days. You may be represented at the hearing by an attorney at your own expense. You should be prepared to explain why you think you are eligible for assistance. You will have the right to tell your side of the story and also question witnesses. You will receive a written decision from the Fair Hearing Authority no later than 5 working days after the hearing. If you are dissatisfied with the Fair Hearing Authority’s decision, you have 30 days to appeal to Superior Court.

If you are in immediate need and you think the City has violated the State law with regard to your request for assistance, you may call the Department of Health & Human Services to complain: 1-800-442-6003.