There are a wide variety of financial assistance programs and government benefits that can help seniors in need. To find out what types of assistance is available just go to BenefitsCheckUp.org, a free, confidential Web tool designed for adults 55 and older and their families. It will help you locate federal, state and private benefits programs that can assist with paying for food, medications, utilities, health care, housing and other needs. This site-created by the National Council on Aging-contains more than 2,000 programs across the country.
To identify benefits, you’ll first need to fill out an online questionnaire that asks a series of questions like your date of birth, zip code, expenses, income, assets, veteran status, the medications taken and a few other factors. It takes about 15 minutes. Once completed, you’ll get a report detailing all the programs and services you may qualify for, along with detailed information on how to apply. Some programs can be applied for online, some have downloadable application forms that you can print and mail, fax or email in, and some require that you contact the program’s administrative office directly.
Types of benefits depend on your income level and where you live, here are some benefits that you may be eligible for:
- Food assistance: Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help pay for groceries. The average monthly SNAP benefit is currently around $127 per person. Other programs that may be available include the Emergency Food Assistance Program, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Senor Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
- Health Care: Medicaid and Medicare Savings Programs can help or completely pay for out-of- pocket health care costs. And, there are special Medicaid waiver programs that provide in-home care and assistance.
- Prescription drugs: There are hundreds of programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations that help lower or eliminate prescription drug costs, including the federal Low Income Subsidy known as “Extra Help” that pays premiums, deductibles and prescription copayments for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.
- Utility Assistance: There’s the Low Income Program (LIHEAP) , as well as local utility companies and charitable organizations that provide assistance in lowering home heating and cooling costs.
- Supplemental Security Income: Administered by the Social Security Administration, provides monthly payments to very low-income seniors, age 65 and older, as well as to those who are blind and disabled. SSI pays up to $733 per month for a single person and up to $1,100 for couples.
In addition to these programs, there are numerous other benefits they can help you locate such as HUD housing, home weatherization assistance, tax relief, veteran’s benefits, senior transportation, respite care, free legal assistance, job training and employment and debt counseling.