A Guide to Assistance Programs for Seniors in 2024
With age come added expenses to health and medical bills, rising housing costs, assisted care, and more. Retirement brings a drop in income and could limit your purchasing power or access to resources. Many federal and state government-offered programs and volunteer organizations work to make retired life easier for you. Take a look at the many options available.
Senior assistance programs and services
The most important senior living expenses include housing, healthcare, and food. To support some of these costs, governments at various levels deliver assistance in unique ways. Below, we discuss other programs, services, and resources besides Social Security that can improve the lives of seniors across the country.
As an older person, healthcare is one of your most significant expenses. It requires a considerable amount of money. States offer the following healthcare plans to provide support for seniors:
Medicare is the most popular primary healthcare subsidy for seniors. It comes in four parts-
- Medicare A covers hospital stays.
- Medicare B covers outpatient procedures.
- Medicare D covers the cost of prescriptions.
- Medicare Advantage Plans, also called Part C, are offered by private firms approved by Medicare.
The benefits for each of these parts depend on your choice of coverage. However, if making premium payments is a hassle for you, the savings programs listed below may help:
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program (QMB)– If you have limited resources, this program will cover the premiums of Medicare A and Medicare B, along with deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
- Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)–This program includes people with incomes slightly higher than QMB. Still, premium coverage is limited to Medicare Part B only.
- Qualified Individual (QI) Program– QI helps pay for Medicare Part B if your income is slightly above the SLMB limits.
- Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program– This program is limited to Medicare A payments only. It does not include people who qualify for Medicaid.
The Medicaid healthcare plan will benefit you if you are a senior with a low income or limited financial resources. State governments administer it according to federal guidelines, so the conditions for each state may vary. However, receiving Supplemental Security Income automatically makes you eligible for Medicaid.
As you age, you may find it difficult to manage basic tasks. However, several services and resources are available to help you with this. A few popular options are listed below.
You can opt for in-home care services if you prefer staying at home instead of in an assisted living facility. These services work well if you need help getting to and from your doctor’s appointments, deal with personal hygiene and more. To find the right services, use the directory created by the Home Care Association of America. You can find caregivers for housekeeping, meal preparation, personal care, and more here.
Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
PACE provides all-inclusive community-level medical care for seniors over 55. It includes home health care, prescriptions, meals, dental care, hospital visits, transportation, etc. To be eligible for PACE service, you must be enrolled under Medicare or Medicaid and live in a designated service area for the program. This initiative is excellent for seniors who need assistance in their daily living, particularly those who prefer living in senior communities and care centers.
If you do not wish to live in an assisted living facility, you can opt for live-in help or caregiver assistance. Some caregivers can live with you, while others can alternate with other caregivers daily.
Caregivers provide companionship and can help you with daily activities such as preparing meals, using the bathroom, dressing up, doing laundry, housekeeping, and driving you around. Costs for these services depend on the type of work expected from the caregivers.
Adult daycare centers
Adult daycare services allow you to leave the house and engage mentally and socially. These services host a planned program of activities to keep seniors who may feel isolated or lonely involved. Services offered at these centers may vary. While some centers provide an opportunity to socialize and a few health-related activities or services, others offer a deep dive into therapeutic experiences, such as counseling on aging, physical or speech therapy, or other healthcare services performed by a registered professional. Some care centers may also be limited to people with health conditions like dementia or any disability.
Regarding housing, one of the biggest challenges you can face is maintenance. However, certain policies are in place to help seniors safely maintain their homes.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy launched its Weatherization Assistance Program to ease the burden on seniors. Under this scheme, they employ local contractors to perform energy audits at homes with seniors over 60. They provide solutions such as cleaning or repairing heating and cooling systems, installing programmable thermostats, fixing or replacing water heaters, installing sill box insulation, and more.
Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly
This rent assistance program has been formulated exclusively for seniors above 62 with a very low household income (average yearly income of $10,000). The units in this program feature fixtures like grab bars and non-skid floors to ensure your safety. You can also opt-in for meals and housekeeping services.
Section 504 Home Repair Program
Here, seniors are eligible for grants up to $7500 in repair costs for damages to their homes that are considered dangerous to their safety or health. You are eligible for this if you are over 62 and need help to repay a repair loan.
Besides these initiatives, low-income seniors are also eligible for other offerings, like Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Housing Choice Vouchers Program, to help with home maintenance and rent payment.
Although the money you have to spend on food gradually decreases as you age, it is crucial for your survival. The government programs listed below help seniors gain access to nutritious food.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly known as Food Stamps, SNAP provides food assistance to seniors through monthly allowances to help purchase groceries. Eligibility for this program is limited by your household income, with a gross monthly earning of $1,888 for a household of two.
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
This program provides seniors coupon booklets for use at participating farmers’ markets and food stands to purchase fresh and organic produce.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP helps low-income households access canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
CSFP aims to improve seniors’ health in low-income households by providing access to healthy food through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This program makes monthly cash payouts to eligible seniors to help them cover basic food, shelter, and clothing costs. These benefits are for seniors with visual problems or any disability and those over 65 living on a limited income.
If you are retired and want to re-enter the workforce, some programs can help to facilitate this transition. The most popular one is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which provides training and employment opportunities for unemployed seniors over the age of 55 who are living on a low family income. This program is authorized by the Older Americans Act. It lets you find jobs in various community service activities such as non-profit organizations and public facilities like schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and senior centers.
Training under this initiative also makes you more flexible in your daily life and opens up many other opportunities if you wish to branch out.
Some seniors may not fall in the tax bracket to file tax returns. However, if you do, the following can help you claim deductions and credits-
Credit for the Elderly
Low-income seniors over 65 may qualify for credits that will reduce their tax liability. Therefore, it is best to speak with your tax advisor about this.
Standard Deduction For Seniors
Depending on your filing status (single or married), you may be eligible for a significant standard deduction, especially for seniors, under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.
If you have high medical expenses, filing an itemized deduction instead of a standard one can help you reduce your tax liability. Itemized deductions include expenses you can deduct from your adjusted gross income to lower your taxable income.
Consider the services listed below if you are looking for more resources to help you navigate assistance options.
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- AARP Foundation’s Guide To Public Benefits
- State Health Insurance Assistance Programs
- Hearing Aid Resources
If you prefer enlisting the help of private programs, you can also check out the following organizations:
Volunteers of America
They provide services such as meal programs, transportation, Medicare enrollment, nursing care, affordable housing, and more for low-income seniors.
This database can help you explore all your living options, from independent living to hospice care, under one roof.
This organization works with food banks nationwide to provide meals to those in need.
It is a great networking tool for seniors to work with companies looking for expertise and skills.
Dental Lifeline Network
This organization offers help by covering costs for dental care through its network of volunteer dentists and testing labs across the country.
Several programs nationwide work in tandem to help seniors manage their finances amidst the growing inflation rates. However, these initiatives do not cover all seniors. Constant public policy updates are essential to help provide continued support to seniors so they can lead a more comfortable and respectable life.
- Senior Community Service Employment Program. DOL. (n.d.). https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/seniors
- Financial assistance for seniors: Programs & debt relief. Debt.org. (2022, December 22). https://www.debt.org/advice/financial-assistance-for-senior-citizens/
- (DCD), D. C. D. (2022, July 12). Programs for seniors. HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/programs/social-services/programs-for-seniors/index.html
- Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants. Rural Development. (2023, June 21). https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants
- Public benefits – senior assistance – government assistance. AARP. (n.d.). https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/public-benefits-guide-senior-assistance/