For older people, benefits often go unused

Some examples: about 14 million adults According to recent estimates, people over the age of 60 are eligible for help from the Federal Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) but have not signed up. It also covers her over 3 million adults over the age of 65, but has not registered. Medicare Savings Program, pay Medicare premiums and cost shares. And his 30% to 45% of the elderly Medicare Part D Low Income Grant Programwhich covers the premium and cost sharing of the plan and reduces the cost of prescription drugs.
“Every year, tens of billions of dollars go unspent,” says seniors who don’t know about benefits, find it too difficult to complete applications, or feel conflicted about asking for help. Because, said. Josh HodgesChief Client Officer of the National Council on Aging and an advocacy group for older Americans that operates the National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment.

Many programs target older people with extremely low incomes and minimal assets. However, this is not always the case. Programs funded by the American Senior Citizens Act, such as home meals and legal assistance for those facing foreclosure or eviction, often prioritize low-income individuals, but are means-tested. is not required. Also, some local programs, such as property tax incentives for homeowners, are available to anyone over the age of 65.

Even a few hundred dollars a month in assistance can make a big difference for older people who live on limited incomes and find it difficult to get basic things like food, housing, transportation and medical care. there is. However, people often don’t know how to know if they are eligible for benefits or if they are eligible. Especially if you’ve never done it before.

“You earned these benefits,” Hodges said, and seniors should think of them “like Medicare and Social Security.”

Here’s how to get started and information about some programs.

ask for help

In all communities, senior community agencies, organizations dedicated to helping older people, can conduct assessments of benefits or refer you to other groups that conduct these assessments. (To obtain contact information for local agencies on aging in your area, visit Elderly Care Locator, the services of the Federal Administration on Aging, or call 800-677-1116 during business hours on weekdays. )
Many seniors are eligible for food stamps but have not signed up for benefits despite the high cost of groceries.

The assessment identifies which federal, state, and local programs can help with various needs (food, housing, transportation, health care, utilities, and other essentials). In many cases, agency staff will help seniors fill out forms and collect the necessary documents.

A common mistake is to wait until a crisis hits so there is no food in the refrigerator or the power company is about to turn off the electricity.

“It’s a much better idea to be prepared,” he said. Sandy Markwood, CEO of USAging, a national organization representing regional agencies on aging. “Come in, sit down with someone and put all the options on the table.”
Elderly people who are accustomed to online and want to do their own research, benefits checkup, a service operated by the National Council on Aging at If you prefer to call us, please call 800-794-6559.

food assistance

Some aging organizations are responding to the growing demand for help from older adults by turning their attention to core benefits such as food stamps, which have become even more important due to food inflation. about 10%.
The potential to help older people with these costs is enormous.of New set of reportsthe AARP Institute for Public Policy estimates that 71% of eligible adults over the age of 60 for SNAP benefits have not signed up.
Shortage of home care helpers due to pandemic leaves patients stranded without treatment
In some cases, older people may consider the benefits too small to be worth the effort. $104 average The amount of food stamps per month in 2019. Also, at least her 3 million adults over the age of 50 on low incomes will receive it. $200+ per monththe AARP estimate.

To combat the stigma that some seniors attach to food stamps, AARP launched a marketing campaign in Atlanta and Houston stating, “Food prices are rising and we are all spending more money on our grocery budgets.” I’m trying to stretch it out,” he said. AARP Foundation Benefit Access Program.

If the effort changes the perception of older Americans about the program and increases enrollment, AARP plans to expand significantly next year, she said.

Subsidies for medical expenses

AARP also works closely with community organizations in South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi to help seniors apply for low-income subsidies for Medicare Savings Programs and Part D prescription drug plans. . Over the next year, we plan to expand the program to up to 22 states.

Some older Americans may be missing out on subsidies to reduce prescription drug costs.

The value of these medical benefits for low-income seniors is substantial. At a minimum, the Medicare Savings Program will cover the cost of Medicare Part B premiums. Most are $170/month or $2,040/year. For the lowest-income elderly, the benefits are even broader and cover the cost of medical services.

“Even if you think you may not be eligible, you should apply because each state has different rules,” he said. Meredith FreedSenior Policy Analyst for the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicare Policy.
Are you an elderly person dealing with high drug bills?Share your story on CNN
Low Income Subsidy for Part D Prescription Drug Plans, also known as Extra Help, Worth $5,100 per year, according to the Social Security Administration. While some older Americans currently receive only partial benefits, change in 2024if all seniors with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level ($20,385 per capita in 2022) qualify for full Extra Help benefits.
Due to the complexity of these healthcare programs, we encourage you to seek help with your application. Freed suggested starting by contacting your state’s health insurance assistance program (contact information). can be found here). Other potential sources of help are the Medicare Hotline at 800-633-4227 and state departments of aging that can direct you to community organizations that can help with your application.List of state departments can be found here.

Other aid

As part of the broader “benefit research” process, check for property tax relief programs for seniors in your area.

Has Covid gotten longer?Seniors please be prepared to slow down
For low-income people, high utility bills Low Income Home Energy Assistance ProgramLocal utility companies may also provide emergency relief for seniors who are unable to pay their bills. It’s worth calling to find out, advised Rebecca Lerfelt, former assistant director of the Chicago area. Resource Center on Aging and DisabilityThese resource centers help those seeking access to long-term care services and are potential sources of support for older people.can be found in your area here.
For veterans, he said, “This may be the time to consider using the (Veterans Administration) benefits.” Diane SlezakPresident of AgeOptions, a regional agency on aging in suburban Cook County, Illinois. “I run into a lot of people who are eligible for veterans benefits but aren’t taking advantage of them.”

Barriers to getting help

Proponents of many programs say agencies serving older adults are facing staff shortages, complicating efforts to provide assistance. Low pay is a common reason. For example, according to Markwood, 41% of regional agencies on aging report staff vacancies of up to 15%, and a further 18% report vacancies of up to 25%. Government agencies have also lost a significant number of volunteers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, the pandemic and rising inflation have increased the demand for assistance and made the needs of our clients more complex.

“All of this is amplified by the financial burden that older people are feeling,” Markwood said.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. KHN is one of his three major operational programs in the United States, along with policy analysis and polling KFFMore (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a donated non-profit organization that provides information on health issues to the public.


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