Many of us view our senior years as a time to relax and indulge in activities we didn't have time or money for in our younger years, such as pursuing a hobby, traveling, or purchasing a luxury item. However, the cost of maintaining even a modest lifestyle does not decrease throughout retirement. It is anticipated that the average couple in their 60s will need at least $600,000 for medical expenses alone. When housing, food, and transportation costs are considered, it is simple to see why so many senior citizens struggle to make ends meet, especially those who did not adequately plan for retirement.
The silver lining is that there are numerous government assistance programs for senior citizens. Whether you need help paying your medical bills, downsizing or upgrading your home to make it a safer place to live, or financing the assisted living or independent living fees of a senior home, we have compiled the federal programs that can make life easier for seniors. Federal governments offer a variety of benefits targeted towards low-income families, married couples, low-income seniors, low-income individuals, and needy families, among others. Not everything on our list is a traditional financial aid program, but they can all provide some type of financial assistance for older adults, and taking advantage of as many as possible will go a long way.
Wondering what is the name of the government program that provides cash benefits to senior citizens? Below are the general financial aid options available to seniors:
Seniors aged 62 and older who have contributed to Social Security for at least 10 years are eligible for its retirement benefits. The amount you receive each month is determined by how much you put into the program during your working years, but in 2019, retirees got an average of $17,500 per year from the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can apply as early as three months before your 62nd birthday in order to start obtaining your benefit as soon as you become eligible. Social security retirement benefits can significantly impact a senior’s monthly payments and overall financial stability.
Many seniors who qualify for Social Security are also eligible for SSI. To qualify for the benefit, you must be 65 years old, a low-income resident (making less than $2,000 per month if you're single or less than $3,000 if you're married), and have minimal financial assets. SSI is also available to disabled individuals of any age, including blind and deaf individuals.
Certain seniors receive an income-based tax credit between $3,750 and $7,500. At tax time, you should take advantage of this benefit if you are at least 65 years old or retired due to a disability. This federal program has eligibility criteria which are based on countable income and family size, among other factors.
Below are the healthcare government programs for seniors:
Medicare is a government-funded program designed to assist people aged 65 and older, as well as younger people with certain disabilities or end-stage renal illness. It is generally accepted as a method of payment for health services nationwide. The benefit amount you are eligible to get fluctuates depending on your earned income while working (because the amount you contributed to Medicare with each paycheck was based on your wage) and any other government assistance you receive.
There are several Medicare plans that may be beneficial to senior citizens. Check out which plan is best for you.
Medicare Savings Programs, funded by the government, are available to seniors who need assistance paying their insurance premiums. These include:
For each of these programs, participants must be qualified for Social Security, have a limited income, and adhere to resource limitations (i.e., they cannot exceed a particular dollar amount across all their accounts, including retirement accounts). You can apply for Medicare coverage three months before your 65th birthday.
Seniors who are eligible for Medicare Part D may be eligible for Extra Help, which provides an additional $4,000 per year in assistance. Eligibility requirements include that unmarried individuals must have a net worth of $14,100 or less, while married couples must have a net worth of $28,150 or less.
Medicaid helps pay for a variety of medical expenses, including long-term care and nursing home care, and is frequently used in conjunction with Medicare. It is available to people with disabilities and seniors aged 65 and over who are regarded to have extremely limited resources. SSI recipients are often eligible to enroll in Medicaid. However, benefits and coverage options vary by state.
PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that works with a network of healthcare providers who help patients in their own homes or in PACE community centers, with the objective of assisting patients in remaining as independent as possible. Eligibility criteria include meeting income requirements and the following:
Regardless of age or income, the VA provides physical and mental healthcare services to certain veterans and current service members. Patients can visit their local VA hospital for treatments or sign up for certain forms of remote care, such as telemental health consultations, for free or at a reduced fee, depending on factors such as the length of service.
Below are the housing programs for seniors:
HUD's Public Housing Program provides affordable housing and rental housing to low-income households and families, including seniors, and permits them to pay 30 percent or less of their adjusted gross income (AGI) as rent. It is essential to highlight that in the majority of communities, there is a lengthy waiting list to enroll in this program.
Formerly known as Section 8, HCVP is an income-based program that pays up to 30% of your AGI towards your rent if you are 62 or older and live in public housing (payments are made directly to landlords). In some regions, there is a two- to five-year waiting list for this program. This program is instrumental in providing financial assistance to low-income seniors.
In addition to healthcare services, the VA offers low-interest mortgage loans to current and former service members of all ages with no requirement for a down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Additionally, the organization offers refinancing choices to homeowners. The VA also offers Adapted Housing Grants to veterans with a service-related handicap, which can be used to purchase accessible homes or adapt the ones they already own to be disability-friendly. The benefits of each of these programs can save seniors hundreds of dollars during the home-buying, refinancing, and modification processes and over several years.
This program offers grants and low-interest loans to senior homeowners who require renovations to make their houses safer and more livable. Eligibility criteria include being a US citizen or legal resident, having a stable income below 50% of the region's median income, and being unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere. Low-income individuals and needy families can take advantage of this program to improve their living conditions and ensure a safer environment.
This program makes home appliances more energy efficient, saving annual gas, electric, and water bills by hundreds of dollars. It is open to individuals of all ages, but preference is given to families with disabled or elderly members.
LIHEAP also assists individuals in making their houses more energy-efficient and cost-effective, particularly in terms of heating and cooling. This can not only help senior citizens save money on their housing costs but also keep them healthy in adverse weather.
Below are the nutrition aid options available to seniors:
SNAP may provide low-income families, including the elderly, a monthly stipend redeemable at qualified grocery stores and other retailers. Although this program used to give food stamps that could be redeemed for groceries (and the program is still commonly referred to as "Food Stamps"), funds are now placed monthly on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which may be used at retail stores just like a debit card.
The majority of seniors who are eligible for SNAP also qualify for TEFAP. This program works with food banks and soup kitchens to offer eligible low-income residents canned and fresh food.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the CSFP, often known as the "Senior Box Program," to aid low-income seniors age 60 and older whose income is less than 130 percent of the national poverty threshold. According to Feeding America, it offers a monthly delivery of USDA food commodities valued at approximately $50. This program can be utilized alongside SNAP benefits.
In places with participating farmers' markets, senior citizens may obtain coupon booklets redeemable from sellers of fresh produce. Fruits, vegetables, and spices that are dried, canned, or packaged in other ways do not qualify.
There may be other senior programs offered at the city, county, and state levels. Consult the following resources to learn more about cash assistance for senior citizens available:
The repercussions of financial instability during retirement can be severe. Thus, seeking financial assistance from these government programs is crucial to ensuring a stable and secure retirement. Besides, exploring various programs and resources available can significantly improve the quality of life for many seniors, allowing them to enjoy their golden years without the constant worry of financial hardship.
In conclusion, retirement should be a period of relaxation and enjoyment, but without adequate financial preparation and awareness of the available assistance, it can quickly become stressful. However, with the right information and access to resources, every senior can have the support they need to live comfortably and securely. Through federal programs and local initiatives, senior citizens can receive the financial assistance they need to cover their living expenses, medical bills, and more, making their senior years enjoyable and stress-free.