Financial Help for Retirees Affected by COVID-19
In addition to the $1,200 federal coronavirus stimulus checks that were distributed in April and May, there are many other financial-assistance programs (both public and private) that can help struggling retirees. These programs can also give relief to family members who help provide financial support for their loved ones.
To find out what types of financial benefits you may be eligible for, visit BenefitsCheckUp.org, a free and confidential website designed for adults 55 and older and their families. The website can 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 website service, created by the National Council on Aging, contains more than 2,500 programs.
To find out which benefits you qualify for, you will need to fill out an online questionnaire that asks a series of questions such as date of birth, ZIP code, expenses, income, assets, veteran status, medications you take and a few other factors. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Once completed, you will get a report detailing all the programs and services you may qualify for and detailed information on how to apply.
Most programs have online applications. However, some programs have downloadable application forms that must be mailed in or may require you to contact the program's administrative office directly. These programs will all give you the necessary information on how or where to send the application.
If you do not have internet access, you can get help in-person at any of the 84 Benefit Enrollment Centers located throughout the U.S. Call 888-268-6706 to locate a center in your area. Some benefit centers may offer assistance over the phone.
Types of Benefits
Depending on your income level and where you live, here are some benefits you may be eligible to enroll in:
Food assistance: Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help pay for groceries. The average SNAP benefits for 60-and-older households is around $125 per month. Other programs that may be available include the Emergency Food Assistance Program, Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
Healthcare: 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 too.
Medications: There are hundreds of programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations that help lower or eliminate medication costs. This includes the federal Low-Income Subsidy known as "Extra Help" that pays premiums, deductibles and prescription copayments for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.
Utility assistance: There is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), as well as local utility companies and charitable organizations that aid in lowering home heating and cooling costs.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI provides supplemental monthly payments to very low-income seniors, age 65 and older. The SSI also provides for those who are blind or disabled. In 2020, the SSI pays up to $783 per month for a single person and up to $1,175 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.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.