In a time when many seniors are struggling to make ends meet, senior citizen financial assistance can provide retired people with the extra help they need to meet their monthly expenses.
According to the National Council on Aging, as of January of 2011, 3.8 million U.S. seniors aged sixty-five and older are living at or below the poverty level. That number increases to 16.1 percent, or 6.1 million seniors, when medical care and other costs of living are considered. But seniors do not have to be living at or below the poverty level to be suffering financially. There are also a great many retired people who have low or moderate incomes that are struggling to pay bills, buy medications and put food on their tables.
Most seniors live on a fixed income and are faced with frequent increases in the cost of food, home heating oil and general utilities. Their medical bills mount as age-related conditions and health issues worsen. The cost of medical care and prescription drugs are steadily increasing. Every day seniors throughout the country make difficult choices of where to cut back on spending.
Senior Citizen Financial Assistance
Although there are many programs that provide seniors with financial assistance, each one has its own rules for qualification. In some programs the financial assistance a senior receives may not be in the form of money; instead, their income may be supplemented by things such as free meals or reduced rates on services.
Depending on the particular circumstances of the individual, there are programs providing financial assistance to seniors on the federal, state and local levels.
The United States Department of Housing and Development, generally referred to as HUD, offers low income subsidized housing to qualifying seniors in apartments throughout the nation. The rent qualifying seniors pay for HUD housing is limited to 30 percent of their income. To qualify for HUD-subsidized senior housing, individuals must be 62 or more years old and meet the income requirements for eligibility specific to the local area.
Based on the amount of equity that is in your home, senior homeowners may qualify for a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage is an FHA loan that is quite different from a traditional mortgage. The bank loans the homeowner money that can be taken in a lump sum or monthly payments. The loan does not go into repayment until the borrower moves out of the house or passes away. At that time, the home goes to the lender as payment in full for the loan or the heirs can pay off the loan and keep the house. To qualify for a reverse mortgage, seniors must be at least 62 years old and live in their home for at least part of each year.
Originally known as the Food Stamp Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides funds for seniors with low incomes to purchase food. SNAP is the federal name for the program, but individual states may use different names.
Meals on Wheels
From the main Meals on Wheels website, you can locate a local Meals on Wheels program in your area. It is estimated that the approximately 5,000 local services provide more than a million nutritious meals each day to qualifying senior citizens. Depending on the needs of the senior community, meals are served at locations such as senior centers or delivered to the homes of seniors with limited mobility. Many groups provide both types of services.
Assistance with the Cost of Utilities and Fuel
Many state and county governments offer financial assistance programs that provide help in several everyday expenses such as:
- Legal services
- Medical care
- Telephone service
To find out about these programs in your area contact the Office on Aging - Department of Community Services in your own state, as these types of assistance vary greatly from one state to another. To view an example of the services offered, visit the Department of Aging of Hartford County, Maryland.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance
For seniors and other patients who do not have prescription drug coverage, The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps the elderly get their medications for a nominal cost or for free. The company works with:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Healthcare providers
- Doctors and other healthcare professionals
- Community groups
- Senior and patient advocacy groups
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance also provides help finding low cost or free clinics.
- The National Shared Housing Resource Center
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- The Senior Community Service Employment Program
- Needy Meds
To find out more information on senior citizen financial assistance in your area, call your local or state Office of the Aging, or visit a senior center near you. While it may take some time to find and qualify for local programs, the financial savings could be considerable.