Thousands of low-income York County property owners and renters could be eligible for a check from the Pennsylvania Lottery-funded Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, but they must apply for the money before the Dec. 31 deadline.

The program is open to residents age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities who are age 18 and older. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but qualifying homeowners can get as much as $325 more.

The average rebate for York County residents was $479, and nearly 19,000 renters and homeowners claimed checks, according to state data for 2011, the most recent data available. In York County alone, the state paid more than $9 million in rebates, While there are businesses that offer application help for a fee, applying is free and the forms and assistance are available free at York area state legislators' offices, the York County Area Agency on Aging, and senior centers across the county.

The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 a year for renters, with half of Social Security income excluded.

Assistance is also available by calling the Department of Revenue 1-888-222-9190, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Forms (PA-1000) and information are available online at www.revenue.state.pa.us.

Applications must be postmarked by Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Last year, more than 598,000 households received more than $283 million in rebates, according to the Department of Revenue. So far this year, more than 607,000 rebate applications have been received, and rebates totaling $274 million have been sent to more than 577,000 homeowners and renters.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.