SCSEP provides free, paid training to people over 55

By Barbara Perone aarp

If you are over 55, want to find work, and qualify, you may be eligible to join an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) employment training/placement program, if its enrollment period is still open.

The free program, funded in part by AARP and a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is called the AARP Foundation Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP); it helps people over 55 become more successful at finding jobs by helping them:

  • improve job skills
  • gain work experience, and
  • increase their self-confidence

How to qualify for SCSEP

To qualify, applicants must be:

  • unemployed
  • 55 or older
  • live in a county served by an AARP SCSEP office, and
  • earning $13,300, or less, per year

How to Apply for SCSEP

  1. Go to the AARP website,, to find out whether you live in an eligible county that offers a SCSEP.
  2. Contact the local SCSEP office by phone or in person. A staff member will ask you questions to determine whether you are eligible for the program. You may have to physically go to their office and bring certain documents, i.e., birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.

Note:   If AARP’s open enrollment period for this program has already ended in your county, you may not be able to join even if you are eligible. Apparently, these programs have a finite number of open slots; if they’re filled, then you’ll have to wait until the enrollment period opens. 

Can I apply for SCSEP if I receive other benefits?

Your acceptance into this program may affect certain benefits you already receive, such as:

  • Social Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability (SSD)
  • Medicaid
  • food stamps, and
  • living in public housing

You have to talk to a SCSEP staff member to determine how your current benefits may affect your eligibility for this program.

What free services does SCEP provide?

Once you qualify for the program, you will also be eligible for free services, including:

  • assessment of existing job skills/interests
  • assistance with setting job goals
  • an individual employment plan
  • help with locating job training for new skills
  • résumé assistance
  • job interview tips
  • information about job clubs & workshops
  • job leads and follow-ups to check progress
  • a yearly physical exam
  • a free, one-year AARP membership

How many hours will I train and how much will I earn?

Once you’re accepted, an AARP representative will find you a training position with a community agency or non-profit organization. The participating agencies, and non-profits, won’t by paying you. They just offer you up-to 20 hours a week of on-the-job training and don’t count on getting exactly 20 hours each week because the agency or non-profit sets the hours. As to the pay, the U.S. DOL pays you a weekly minimum wage ($8.25 per hour) for the time you spend training in the program.

Are there any AARP SCSEP offices in Central Jersey?

Actually, there are two; one is the Easter Seals SCSEP, located at 45 Kennedy Boulevard, East Brunswick, New Jersey. The phone number there is 732.257.6662. The other is the National Council on Aging SCSEP; the phone number there is 732.367.7111.

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