A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that seniors apply for low income benefits at significantly lower rates than other demographics – even though there are greater out of pocket health care expenses and usually fewer alternatives like additional work to fund these needs.
While numerous public and private programs hope to provide financial assistance to vulnerable retirees, a sizable proportion of eligible seniors do not participate in the programs. In some cases as few as 25 percent of eligible seniors participate in a program.
The Commonwealth Fund study suggested that enrollment would increase by increasing awareness of programs and simplifying the application process. Here are a few resources to help do just that.
Benefits Checkup – www.BenefitsCheckUp.org
Benefitscheckup.org is a service developed and maintained by the National Council on Aging. The site is a comprehensive web-based service that matches benefits programs to seniors with limited income and resources.
The site includes information on more than 1,700 public and private benefits programs, including benefits for: prescription drugs, nutrition, energy assistance, financial, legal, health care, Social Security, housing, in-home services, tax relief, transportation, educational assistance, employment and volunteer services.
Since 2001, millions of people have used BenefitsCheckUp.org to find benefits programs to pay for prescription drugs, health care, rent, utilities and other needs.
Eldercare Locator from the US Administration on Aging
The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Eldercare Locator can help you find local agencies in every U.S. community that can help older persons and their families’ access home and community-based services like transportation, meals, home care, and caregiver support services.
Other Sources of Assistance
While BenefitsCheckup.org and Eldercare.gov can help you assess eligibility for a variety of programs, you may also want to research these specific options directly:
- Help with Medical Expenses: Perhaps the biggest financial struggle for many seniors is paying for health care costs. According to analysis, average out-of-pocket health care spending by Medicare beneficiaries is sizable and increases with age.
- Meal Assistance: Shockingly high numbers of seniors worry about feeding themselves and many go hungry.
- Utility Assistance: Most utility providers have programs to help low income seniors. Contact your gas, electric, water and telephone providers to learn more about programs in your area.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Supplemental Security Income is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged as well as disabled people who have little or no income. The program provides cash to help meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.
- Tax Relief: Many states offer tax assistance – especially property tax -- to seniors. Contact your state and local tax boards for information on programs in your area.
- Legal Help: The Senior Legal Hotline provides legal services to seniors with limited resources.
- Special Benefits for Veterans: The Veterans Administration has some amazing aid programs for seniors.