Colorado Old Age Pension

The Colorado Old Age Pension (9 CCR 2 Vol 3.350), funded by the state and administered by the county Department of Human Services, provides a monthly income grant payment and may provide health care benefits to low income Colorado residents who are 60 years and older who meet the income and resource eligibility requirements. Inmates in a penal institution or residents in an unlicensed private or uncertified public facility are not eligible for an OAP benefit. The monthly OAP grant standard is determined by the State Board of Human Services. Effective January 1, 2015, the grant standard is $771 per month (excluding the $20 disregard) for an individual and $1542 for a couple. Individuals must have less than $2000 in resources and couples less than $3000. No work history is required in order to qualify for OAP.

There are three OAP programs, OAP-A, OAP-B, and OAP-C, each targeted to a different segment of the 60 and over population. Applicants for OAP must make reasonable efforts to pursue all income and resources that might be available to them before qualifying for OAP.

[3.520.61, eff. 3/2/14]
  1. 60 years of age or older for OAP
  2. Be a resident of Colorado
  3. Be a citizen of the United States or be a qualified non-citizen or legal immigrant [Section 3.520.67, eff 3/2/14] who is lawfully present
  4. Have a valid Social Security number
  5. Take reasonable steps to apply for and accept all retirement and public assistance benefits for which they may be eligible
  6. Pursue and accept all other income and resources that may be available
OAP–A

Available to Colorado residents who are age 65 or over who meet the OAP program income, resources, and non-financial qualifications. Individuals can receive up to a total of $771 per month as of January 1, 2015 from all sources. The resource limit for individuals is $2,000. Dependent on their total income, married couples can receive up to $1542 per month with a resource limit of $3,000. Individuals who are eligible for Social Security, first claim Social Security. Individuals over age 65 are automatically eligible for Supplemental Security Income as they are presumed to be elderly and disabled. Thus, individuals whose income from Social Security is less than the Supplemental Security Income limit, receive the balance in Supplemental Security Income bringing their total income for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income up to $733 per month. In addition to the monthly cash benefit from Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income, individuals receive an additional $38 each month from Old Age Pension. To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income and Old Age Pension, Part A, individuals must be lawfully present in the United States. Individuals who were born in the United States or who are naturalized citizens are lawfully present. Individuals who are not lawfully present may also be eligible. Qualified non-citizens arriving in the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996, are generally barred from receiving Adult Financial programs for five years beginning on the qualified non-citizen’s date of admission into the United States for legal permanent residence, as verified through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system, unless they fall into one of the following exceptions consistent with the provisions of federal regulations found at 45 CFR 286.5 as of February 18, 2000. This is known as the Five-Year Bar [Section 3.520.68, eff. 3/2/14] disqualifying individuals from receiving Supplemental Security Income and Old Age Pension, forcing them to rely on sponsor income and resources for financial and medical assistance. Some exceptions for hardship, abandonment, abuse [Section 3.520.68, eff. 3/2/14] by the sponsor may apply. Individuals who receive Social Security will also receive Medicare. Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income will also receive Medicaid. Individuals who have both Medicare and Medicaid are often referred to as the “full duals”. For most Old Age Pensioners, the Medicare Part B premium, Medicare Part A and B deductibles, and Medicare Part B co-pays are paid. In addition, the Medicare Part D premium is paid if the individual enrolls in a qualified Extra Help (or Low Income Subsidy) prescription drug stand-alone plan or a Medicare Advantage Health Plan. The co-pays for medications should range from $1.15 to $3.65 per prescription. The individual does not have any co-pays in the Coverage Gap (or donut hole).

OAP–B

Individuals who are between the ages of 60-64 who income from all sources can enroll in OAP-B. with a monthly cash benefit of $771 from all sources. The resource limit for individuals is $2,000. Dependent on their total income, married couples can receive up to $1542 per month with a resource limit of $3,000. At age 62, individuals are required to apply for Social Security. If the Social Security benefit is more than $771, Old Age Pension is discontinued. If the Social Security benefit is less than $771, Old Age Pension will pay the difference between the Social Security benefit and $771. Individuals may also be required to apply for Supplemental Security Income. (NOTE: many individuals will be denied for Supplemental Security Income as they are not disabled or age 65). Qualified non-citizens arriving in the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996, are generally barred from receiving Adult Financial programs for five years beginning on the qualified non-citizen’s date of admission into the United States for legal permanent residence, as verified through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system, unless they fall into one of the following exceptions consistent with the provisions of federal regulations found at 45 CFR 286.5 as of February 18, 2000. This is known as the Five-Year Bar [Section 3.520.68, eff. 3/2/14] disqualifying individuals from receiving Supplemental Security Income and Old Age Pension, forcing them to rely on sponsor income and resources for financial and medical assistance. Some exceptions for hardship, abandonment, abuse [Section 3.520.68, eff. 3/2/14] by the sponsor may apply. Individuals should also apply for Medicaid to receive health insurance through the Medicaid Expansion program. Individuals can apply for Medicaid by completing a PEAK application. Individuals who are not eligible to receive health insurance coverage Medicaid, may receive health care from the Old Age Pension Health and Medical Fund Program. Individuals are eligible for outpatient services, emergency transportation services, medical supply services, hospice and home health services, lab and x-ray services, emergency dental services and pharmacy services. Providers are reimbursed at a lower rate than Medicaid causing some providers to refuse participation in the OAP Health and Medical Fund.

OAP-C:

Available to Colorado residents who are 60 or older who have been committed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute or to a Regional Center by order of the district or probate court.

[Section 3.520.78, eff. 3/2/14]
  1. Wages or earnings from a job
  2. Social Security, Veterans Pensions and other Private Pensions
  3. Supplemental Security Income
  4. Retirement or disability payments
  5. Gifts (generally more than $25 in value)
  6. Interest from investments
  7. Savings, checking accounts, stocks, bonds, promissory notes, annuities, and other items of value
  8. Veterans compensation and pensions
  9. Workmen’s compensation
  10. Unemployment compensation
  11. Child support is countable if the payment is made in arrears and the dependent child is no longer living in the home
  12. For certain individuals who are not paying their fair share of housing costs (such as receiving free rent), an In-kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) amount will be determined and counted as unearned income. Exceptions include those living in their own home or subsidized housing, as well as those who are homeless and those who are paying market rent even if it is less than the In-Kind Support and Maintenance Amount.
  13. A sponsor(s)’s income is only counted toward the non-citizen they sponsor (if applicable); If a sponsor is married, the spouse’s income is also counted if the spouse was a sponsor of a non-citizen. Effective January 1, 2015, sponsor deeming will apply to all of the qualified non-citizen’s sponsors identified in sponsorship agreements signed on or after December 19, 1997, no matter what the sponsor’s relationship to the client is. For OAP only, the hardship exceptions as described in the Five Year Bar from Eligibility [Section 3.520.68, B-D, eff, 3/2/14], will be evaluated in relation to sponsor deeming. If it is determined that hardship has been established, sponsor deeming will not be applied to the non-citizen. Eligibility under one of the hardship exceptions will be reviewed and reassessed at redetermination or when changes in circumstance are reported to determine if hardship still applies. The county department will pursue recovery of OAP benefits from the sponsor(s). If the qualified non-citizen fails to provide information related to the sponsor(s) [Sec 3.520.69B, eff. 3/2/14], assistance will be denied or discontinued.
  14. Donated Work Hours and Volunteerism [Section 3.520.784 Eff. 3/2/14]
    1. Work hours or personal services, for which monetary compensation is not realized, provided to a business, to a person who is self-employed, or to any other person or business in need of a regular, temporary, or non-traditional employee, such as a seasonal worker, shall be considered countable earned income when the work:
      1. Is regular and scheduled; and,
      2. Is a necessary service; and,
      3. If not performed by the client someone would have to be hired to perform the work; and,
      4. Is greater than five (5) hours per week.
    2. If donated work hours or personal services meet these requirements, the value of these hours is determined by:
      1. The going rate in the community for similar work; or,
      2. The current minimum wage standard, whichever is greater.
    3. Volunteerism for the betterment of the community less than an average of thirty (30) hours per week shall not be considered income. Volunteerism for the betterment of the community includes but is not limited to:
      1. Visiting persons in nursing homes, hospitals, etc.;
      2. Delivering meals to homebound persons;
      3. Providing limited transportation to medical appointments for disabled or aging persons; or,
      4. CODE OF COLORADO REGULATIONS 9 CCR 2503-5 Income Maintenance (Volume 3) 42 4.
    4. Other opportunities deemed volunteerism for the betterment of the community by the county department using the prudent person principle.
  1. Tax/Rent Rebates
  2. LEAP payments
  3. Income Tax refunds
  4. Reverse Mortgage payments
  5. Tuition/Scholarships
  6. Foster care payments
  7. Stipends from Senior Companion Programs or Foster Grandparent Programs (Vol 3.200.41.H)
  8. Employment through Senior Aide/Experience Works (Vol 3.200.41.H)
  9. Loans, either private or commercial. (if the proceeds are carried over past the last day of the month, the proceeds become a resource)
  10. Child support is not considered income to the OAP recipient (but it is considered income to the child), if the dependent child is living in the home, whether the payment is current or in arrears.
[Section 3.520.72, Eff. 3/2/14]
  1. Real Estate (investment, rental or income property)
  2. Cash
  3. Checking or Savings Account
  4. Bonds and Stocks
  5. Personal Belongings (such as jewelry or works of art)
  6. Whole Life Insurance Policies (cash value) [Section 3.520.75, Eff. 3/2/14] (see exemptions)
  7. Real Property (such as second car, boat land, mineral rights, and other income producing property) [Section 3.520.741, Eff. 3/2/14] (The value is determined using the taxed value at the county assessor’s office minus the encumbrances
  8. Personal property includes such items as art, jewelry, collections, farm equipment, livestock, automobiles). [Section 3.520.742, Eff. 3/2/14] The actual value of any personal property which is not assessed for taxation is determined by obtaining the appraised value less liabilities, i.e., farm equipment and livestock or inventories of merchandise and materials, such as art, jewelry or valuable collections, as appraised by a verifiable, industry recognized source.
  9. Non-business property used to produce goods necessary for the individual’s daily activities with an equity value in excess of $6,000 will be a countable resource.

NOTE: If the individual is actively attempting to sell, liquidate, legally acquire a resource or secure available income, the county department must not delay action on an application.

  1. OAP will be continued without adjustment until the resource or income is available. The county department may monitor the attempts to access the resource or income.
  2. If the individual refuses or fails to make a reasonable effort to secure a potential resource or income, such resource or income shall be considered as if available, unless the individual can show good cause. Timely and adequate notice must be given regarding a proposed action to deny, reduce, or terminate assistance.
  3. If upon receipt of the prior notice, the individual secures the potential resource or income prior to the effective action date, the proposed action to deny, reduce, or terminate assistance must be withdrawn, and the case shall be corrected. Benefits may still be denied, reduced, or discontinued due to a change in income or resources.
  1. Home
  2. Automobile
  3. Term Life insurance [Section 3.520.75]
  4. Whole Life Insurance [Section 3.520.75, Eff. 3/2/14]
    1. If the total face value of all life insurance policies owned by an individual is equal to $1,500 or less, the full cash surrender value of all policies is exempt.
    2. If the total face value of all life insurance policies owned by an individual is equal to more than $1,500 and the cash surrender value of all policies combined is $100,000 or less, then the following applies:
      1. If all policies were purchased more than forty-eight (48) months prior to the eligibility determination date, and no further contributions or payments to the policies have been made in the past 48 months, all cash surrender value is exempt.
      2. If the individual has contributed additional monies or made payments to any of the policies within 48 months of the eligibility determination date, those additional monies contributed are counted toward the resource limit; the original cash value amount prior to the 48 month period remains exempt.
      3. If any of the policies were purchased within the 48 months prior to the eligibility determination date, the total cash surrender value is a countable resource.
    3. If the total face value of all life insurance policies owned by an individual is equal to more than $1,500 and cash surrender value of all policies combined is more than $100,000, then the following applies:
      1. If all policies were purchased more than 48 months prior to eligibility determination date, and no further contributions or payments to the policies have been made in the past 48 months, the cash surrender value over $100,000 is countable; the first $100,000 is exempt.
      2. If the individual has contributed additional monies or made payments to any of the policies within 48 months of the eligibility determination date, those additional monies contributed are counted toward the resource limit and the cash surrender value over $100,000 is countable; the original cash value amount prior to the 48 month period remains exempt.
      3. If any of the policies were purchased within the 48 months prior to the eligibility determination date, the total cash surrender value is a countable resource.
    4. The original face value of a policy may be increased because of dividends and reinvestment of dividends. This increased face value will not be used to determine eligibility. The original face value of the policy will be used to determine whether the cash surrender value of the policy is exempt.
  5. Irrevocable burial policy [Section 3.520.77, G]
  6. Irrevocable burial plots [Section 3.520.77, H]
  7. Personal Property such as wedding rings, durable medical equipment, household furnishings, clothing and other similar personal items.
  8. Non-business property [Section 3.520.77] used to produce goods necessary for the individual’s daily activities. A maximum of $6,000 of the equity value of such property will be exempt as a resource. Any equity value in excess of $6,000 will be a countable resource.
  9. Loans (from a bona fide lender) in the month they were received only.
  10. Proceeds from a Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income lump sum payment (for a period of nine months).
  1. Complete the application for OAP at Colorado PEAK or visit the local County Department of Human Services.
  2. Apply at the Social Security field office for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, if the monthly unearned income is less than $773 plus the $20 disregard. Obtain documentation of the application for Supplemental Security Income and/or Social Security Disability Insurance and present to the local county department of social services. Applicants are required to submit proof of application for Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income to the County Department of Social services within 10 calendar days. The application must include setting an appointment and being interviewed. Individuals who need assistance with the application and/or the appeal process can obtain assistance through the State OAP/SSI coordinator [Vol.3.300.17]. The individual must continue to apply for Supplemental Security Income, unless the individual is not disabled [Section 3.541, Eff. 3/2/14].
  3. A grandparent or any other specified caretaker who is not a parent is not required to be a member of the TANF/Colorado Works case when they are not requesting assistance for his/herself. [Section 3.520.71, Eff. 3/2/14]
  4. The following non-citizens and temporary residents are not eligible:
    1. A non-citizen with no status verification (undocumented) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service; or
    2. A non-citizen granted a specific voluntary departure date; or
    3. A non-citizen applying for a status; or,
    4. A citizen of foreign nations residing temporarily in the United States on the basis of a visa issued to permit employment, education, or a visit.
  1. Execute an affidavit [Section 3.520.66] stating:
    1. United States citizenship or legal permanent resident; or
    2. Otherwise lawfully present in the United States pursuant to federal law
  2. Verification of age by statewide automated system interface information or documents as follows:
    1. One of the following valid government issued documents or identification:
      1. Birth Certificate;
      2. Valid Colorado state identification or driver’s license;
      3. Valid out of state identification or driver’s license;
      4. Naturalization, immigration, or passport papers;
      5. Legal documents from vital statistics;
      6. Social Security information (SOLQ, SVES, SDX, and BENDEX); or,
    2. Two of more of the following documents:
      1. School records;
      2. Baptismal certificates or other well documented church records;
      3. Genealogy records or other well documented family records of birth;
      4. Voting records;
      5. United States census records.
    3. Proof of identity, lawful presence [3.520.66, eff. 3/2/14] or citizenship [3.520.67, eff. 3/2/14]
      1. Birth Certificate
      2. Baptismal Certificate
      3. Naturalization Papers
      4. Passport
      5. Alien Registration Papers
    4. Proof of residency (client statement, rent receipt, lease agreement, mortgage statement, voter registration, utility or phone bill) [Section 3.520.64, eff. 3/2/14]
    5. Proof of income (check stubs, letter from employer, tax return, copy of last Social Security check, or award letter) [Section 3.520.71, eff. 3/2/14]
    6. Proof of resources (last checking account and savings account statements, property tax statements, certificates for bonds or stocks, car title from second car or recreational vehicle) [Section 3.520.72, Eff. 3/2/14]
    7. Alien registration card (if applicable)
    8. Life Insurance policies (if applicable)
    9. Burial policies (if applicable)
    10. Social Security Card (When an eligible person is not able to furnish a Social Security account number but has complied with the requirement to apply for the number, the time required for issuance or securing verification of the number shall not be used as a basis for delaying action on the application)
    11. Individuals who are non-citizens, but have legal residency must provide one of the following verification documents:
      1. I-94 Arrival/Departure Record,
      2. I-551 Resident Alien Card (I-551),
      3. Forms I-688B or I-766 Employment Authorization Document,
      4. A letter from CIS indicating a person’s status,
      5. Letter from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifying a person’s status as a Victim of a Severe Form of Trafficking,
      6. Iraqi and Afghan individuals who worked as translators for the U.S. military, or on behalf of the U.S. government, or families of such individuals; and have been admitted under a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) with specific visa categories SI1, SI2, SI3, SI6, SI7, SI9, SQ1, SQ2, SQ3, SQ6, SQ7, or SQ9.
      7. Any of the documents permitted by the Colorado Department of Revenue [Section 3.52 0.67, eff. 3/2/14] rules for evidence of lawful presence [1 CCR 201-17] from USCIS showing the client’s non-citizen status and verified through SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) to determine the validity of the document.
  1. A maximum of $771 is received each month. If individuals receive one penny over the limit, they are not eligible for OAP.
  2. Some individuals are eligible for an additional $20 per month disregard, depending on sources of income.

Some individuals are eligible to receive the $20 disregard as noted in the following table:

Who Is Eligible to Receive the $20 Disregard
OAP in an Adult Foster Care Facility No
Supplemental Security Income and OAP No
Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and OAP Yes
  1. The county Department of Human Services has 45 days from the completion of the submission of all of the materials to process the application.
  2. Benefits start on the first day of the application, unless the individual was not eligible on the date of application.
  3. RE-DETERMINATION. The individual must be re-determined every 12 months.
    1. A paper re-determination can be done for Old Age Pension if
      1. The only income is Supplemental Security Income or other unearned income
      2. The case consists of no more than two persons
      3. The case had resources far enough below the maximum resource limit that any income derived from the resources would not bring the case within $200 of the resource limit for the category involved during the certification period
      4. The case has no unresolved Income and Eligibility Verification Systems matches
      5. There is no know transfer of assets involved
    2. An abbreviated re-determination must be followed by a full re-determination [Section 3.130.2 or 3.130.3] in the following year.
  1. The individual receives the payment. Payments may be made to a QUEST card account or to a bank account.
  • New mailing address
  • Another individual moves in or out of the house
  • Individual goes to work (or loses job)
  • Income goes up or down within 30 days
  • Resources go up or down within 30 days
  • Marriage, divorce, separation or reunited with spouse
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Social Security if the individual is over age 62
  • Medicare if the individual is over age 65 (or receiving Social Security Disability Insurance for more than 24 months)
  • Medicaid
  • Property Tax/Rent/Heat Rebates
  • Utility Assistance (LEAP)
  • Subsidized Housing
  • Burial Assistance
  • Emergency Assistance Payments
  • Low Income Senior Dental Program
  • Weatherization
  • Home Care Allowance to purchase services in the home if the individual meets the level of care criteria this may require a co payment by the individual
  • Adult Foster Care
  • Lifeline America
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (for persons receiving Medicare)
  • Property Tax Exemption (if a home owner and lived in the home for more than 10 years)
  • Property Tax Deferral (if application to defer property taxes is made prior to April 1 of the year in which the taxes are to be deferred and the previous years’ taxes are current).
  • TANF/Colorado Works – individuals who have a dependent child are required to apply for and accept TANF/Colorado Works financial benefits, if eligible. Grandparents or other relative caretakers are not required to be members of the TANF/Colorado works if the child is not a legal dependent. The funds are not used to determine eligibility for OAP (for more information on application procedures, contact the local County Department of Human Services caseworker).
  1. Spend Down. If an individual needs to “spend down” countable resources to be eligible, the types of things which are legitimate expenditures include a) purchasing an irrevocable burial policy; b) purchasing needed household items such as a refrigerator, television, dishwasher, microwave oven or similar items; c) purchase of new clothing; d) taking a trip to visit children or grandchildren; or e) other similar things which are for the betterment of the individual. See work sheet at the end of this section to determine the length of time over which the amount of “spend down” of resources can be received back in Old Age Pension benefits.
  2. Home As An Exempt Resource.
    1. If the home is transferred to a trust, partnership or corporation, the home becomes a countable resource, unless the property is transferred back to the individual.
    2. If an exempt home is sold, the proceeds are not considered resources if they are used to purchase another in which the individual, a spouse or a dependent child resides within three months.
    3. The home is an exempt resource, however when there is an income producing property located on the property, it does not qualify under the home as an exempt resource, therefore, if an individual owns a duplex and lives in one unit, the other unit is not exempt as a resource.
    4. If the individual lives in a home on a farm, the land under house is exempt as a resource, but the contiguous land surrounding the home is not an exempt resource.
  3. OAP Monies Are Exempt from Levy. According to 42 USC 407 (a) says “the right of any person to any future payment under this title [42 USCS SS 419 et seq.] shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title [42 USCS SS 401 et seq.] shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law”. This applies to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income.
  4. Disqualification for benefits.
    1. Persons who leave the state for 30 or more consecutive days to visit or move to another country shall be considered to have abandoned their Colorado residence. Upon return to Colorado, residence in the state and county must be reestablished before eligibility can be determined.
    2. Individuals who are a patient for a full calendar month in a hospital or nursing home, will only receive a personal needs allowance.
  5. Repayment of Old Age Pension. Old Age Pension is sometimes viewed as 1) a Colorado benefit for persons who are disabled and indigent, but who do not meet all of the eligibility standards for Supplemental Security Income; or 2) as an advance benefit program for Supplemental Security Income. In this case, the first (lump sum) Supplemental Security Income payment will be sent to the County Department of Social Services. Social Services will withhold all or a portion of the lump sum payment as a “repayment” of the Old Age Pension benefit advanced to the applicant. If persons are on the Old Age Pension program and receive a Supplemental Security Income award, advise the individual that a portion of the Supplemental Security Income “back payments” must be repaid to the local County Department of Social Services. If the first (lump sum) payment is not sent directly to the local County Department of Social Services, notify the county to determine the process whereby a portion of those funds will need to be remitted to the county.
  6. Administrative Error for Overpayments and Recoveries. If the individual receives an overpayment because the local County Department of Human Services did not notify the Social Security Administration to send the first check to the county or if the county does not discontinue Old Age Pension benefits pending notification within ten days of receipt of Supplemental Security Income back payment, the individual should appeal to the administrative law judge. According to the regulations if the local County Department of Human Services makes an administrative error, the individual is not liable for re-payment of the back pay or the over payment. [Section 3.810.2]. Recoveries can not be made if such recovery would deprive the person of income required for ordinary and necessary livings expenses or would be against equity and good conscience [Section 3.810.2]. If an individual is no longer receiving public assistance, a county department may choose to write-off an unpaid overpayment of less than thirty-five dollars [Section 3.810.14] and it has been more than six years since the overpayment was established and the department has determined that it is no longer cost effective to pursue collection [Section 3.810.15].