Financial Help for Seniors on Social Security – Overview
As of now, America faces the highest number of seniors within its population in its entire history. Thanks to advances in medical and health care, longevity has become quite common. However, reports suggest that many people over 65, or seniors, face significant financial hardships after retirement.
State of Seniors in America
According to several reports, 4 out of 10 seniors in the US are extremely worried about high medical bills. One in four seniors worries about being unable to pay off their accumulated debt, while 22% fear they won’t even afford rent or mortgage payments.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2021 data shows that adults in their late 70s usually had higher shares of credit and student loan debt as compared to people between 50 and 74 years old. Additionally, over 15 million seniors (over 65 years of age) are classified as economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.
These reports are a stark reminder of the state of senior citizens in the US as relates to their quality of life and health.
Sources of Financial Help for Seniors on Social Security
If you are a senior on social security and in significant debt, you can get financial help for different expenses through various government-sponsored aid programs. There are specific government programs at the local, state, and federal government programs. You can mainly seek financial help from the government for three basic needs – housing, food, and healthcare.
1 – Housing Programs for Seniors
The US Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program allows licensed contractors to perform energy audits and provide solutions to seniors where energy inefficiencies are noted. These usually include:
- Tuning, repairing, cleaning, or replacing cooling/heating systems
- Repairing or replacing water heaters
- Installing programmable thermostats
- Installing insulation
- Replacing inefficient refrigerators with energy-efficient models
This program prioritizes people over 60 years and families with one or more members with a disability. In addition, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been operating for more than 40 years and is aimed at offering assistance to families with high energy costs.
The plan involves providing such families with help managing costs related to home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs.
2 – Healthcare for Seniors
Everyone knows seniors have to spend more on healthcare than any other age group. According to the Retirement Confidence Survey, around 40% of retirees have significantly higher healthcare expenses.
The report shows that 4 out of 10 seniors believe Medicare alone can provide complete coverage for all their healthcare needs. However, this is far from the truth, as reports show that seniors over 75 years of age spend as much as 16% of their budget on healthcare-related expenses.
To relieve retirees’ healthcare burden, the US federal and state governments offer Medicare, a primary healthcare subsidy for seniors. It comes in three parts – Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicare Part C.
Medicare Part A covers the cost of hospital stays and is completely free (no monthly premium) if you (or your spouse) have paid towards Social Security for at least 10 years.
Medicare Part B covers expenses of outpatient hospital services, such as rehabilitation and visits to the doctor. This plan is offered at a low premium of just US$ 170 per month, with US$ 223 as deductible every year.
Medicare Part C covers the expenses of prescription drugs. You can also seek assistance with prescription drug costs by enrolling in a Medicare Supplemental Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
3 – Food Programs for Seniors
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is aimed at helping low-income senior citizens with groceries through monthly stipends. This program was earlier known as the “Food Stamp” plan. Eligibility criteria for enrolling in SNAP require having proof of limited income and resources.
The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is aimed at helping the elderly with food costs. It provides low-income senior citizens with coupon booklets that can be used at participating farmers’ markets and food stands. These coupons are meant to buy fresh or organic produce and not for buying canned or dried food items.
On the other hand, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) aims to provide senior citizens with affordable food, such as canned food, vegetables, meat, dairy, and fresh fruits.
As you can see, the US federal and state governments offer various types of financial help for seniors on social security. These financial aid programs are meant to ensure that seniors in America have access to affordable housing, healthcare, and food.
To find out if you qualify for other aid programs as a senior citizen, we recommend you talk to your local Social Security office.
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