Retiring from work is a lifetime dream of most employees; however, the piling bills can worsen. Seniors are expected to have a comfortable life after retirement. However, is their savings enough to help them live their dream lives?
More than 64% of seniors in the United States retire with savings of less than $10 000 and lots of bills to take care of. Seniors need to be aware of free services and programs from the government or NGO’s around them that can assist them in reducing the bills they have to take care of. There are many free services and programs for seniors in the United States; surprisingly, only a few seniors know this.
It is important to note that not all seniors’ services are free; some are discounts on purchases that can help them save their cash. Based on individual needs, seniors’ support includes financial, health, nutritional, housing, food, and psychological.
There is $ 20 billion worth of benefits available to seniors in the United States; however, it is only sad that many of them miss out on these opportunities. Millions of seniors in the US battle with their daily bills, whereas the assistance they need is just a phone call away. So, the central issue is that most seniors in the United States are not aware of the benefits and programs for them.
This article will serve as a bridge to connect seniors with the millions of opportunities available to them and the benefits they are entitled to. Let’s get started with “What are programs available for seniors.”
What Programs Are Available for Senior Citizens
Medical and Health Assistance
There are several subsidized or free medical and health services for seniors in the United States. Some of the common ones are Medicaid, Medicare, Nursing Home Medicaid, and VA Health Care System. Seniors with low income and little to no savings can reduce health bills with the medical and health programs. Let’s take a look at what each offers.
Medicaid is an affordable healthcare plan specially designed for seniors. Bills for seniors in this plan have been hugely subsidized by the government, so seniors have to pay little to no money for health care services. However, the Medicaid plan’s benefits and costs vary significantly among states in the United States as each state has the power to set their own rules.
Some of the health care benefits seniors will receive in the Medicaid plan are x-rays, medical transportation, home health services, payment for a visit to healthcare providers, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, and payment for drug prescription.
On the other hand, Medicare is a health care insurance program created by the government for seniors. Plans for Medicare are categorized into three parts; A, B, and D. Part A of the plan is designed for hospital insurance. Part B is dedicated to medical insurance, and Part D is for drug prescription coverage.
Seniors over the age of 65 or seniors who have paid their taxes for at least 10 years will receive free medical services for Part A. Part B of the Medicare plan covers some of the bills for doctor visits and outpatient services. However, seniors are still expected to pay a monthly fee of $134. The last part, Part D takes care of some of the costs of prescription drugs for seniors.
VA Health Care System
The VA health care system is a program specially created for veterans. VA health care medical benefit includes home health services, hospital stays, hearing aids, mental health programs, and dental health. To apply, seniors would need to provide proof of their military service as well as their age.
Nursing Home Medicaid (NHM)
Seniors with insufficient income and resources can take in the Nursing home Medicaid (NHM) program. The NHM program provides healthcare and support services for seniors in a nursing facility. Some of the other benefits of the NHM are supplies of personal items such as clothing and toiletries and social services. However, seniors must pay for doctor services, medical supplies, and hospital care for long-term care stays.
Food and Nutrition Assistance
Several programs in the United States cater to the food and nutrition of seniors with low income for free or at a discounted price. Eating the right foods from all food groups will give seniors the proper nutrition they need as they age. For seniors, eating well will help improve mental acuteness, boost energy levels, and boost the body’s resistance to illness.
Some of the food programs available for seniors are the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Brown Bag Program, and Feeding America Network of Food Banks.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
This program provides selected seniors with a coupon booklet that can be used to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and organic foods in the local farmers’ market or outdoor stands. The selection for giving the coupon booklet out is on a first-come, first-serve method, and it is not accepted at all farmers’ markets.
So, it is crucial to find out which market participates in the program. Also, it is vital to note the word “Fresh” as the coupon cannot be used for the purchase of dried fruits or organic products.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP program allocates monthly bonuses to eligible seniors that can be spent on fresh and nutritious foods. The compensation given to selected seniors is based on the household’s income level and its number. There are different names for this program in various states in the United States; a simple search will help determine what it is called in your state.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP is a program directed by the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service in the United States. The program was created for seniors with low incomes. Eligible and selected seniors will receive food distributed by food banks and soup kitchens of each state.
Brown Bag Program (BBP)
The Brown Bag Program (BBP) assists in getting fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods to seniors. The amount of food given out by the program varies based on the farm condition for that season. However, the program is free, and seniors can check with their local representatives for the program’s availability and eligibility in their area.
Feeding America Network of Food Banks
This program is one of the most extensive programs in the United States as it is available in every state. The program includes 200 food banks and 60 000 food pantries meal programs for seniors. Also, the program is free, and the identity of the receiver is kept intact. This is a program that can help seniors minimize how much they spend on food monthly.
Some programs can help seniors reduce the monthly cost of household utility bills. Seniors can get discount prices on repair or upgrade of heating and cooling systems and phones.
With the weatherization assistance program, seniors can get home repairs for free and increase heating and cooling systems in their homes. The goal of the program is to assist seniors in reducing their energy bills and conserving energy. However, there are limited funds for the program. Therefore, seniors interested in the program must apply early to benefit from it.
LIHEAP operates in a similar way to the weatherization assistance program, but in this case, seniors will receive a grant instead of meeting their heating and cooling costs. The grant may be paid out directly to seniors for the heating and cooling repairs or upgrades or paid directly to your registered utility company. To apply for the grant, seniors must provide verification of their low-income status.
Seniors can benefit from several housing assistance programs available in the United States. There is a decline in housing affordability in the United States, which means more bills for seniors. Some of the housing assistance programs for seniors include Weatherization Assistance Program, iCan Connect, Fair Plan, USDA Housing Repair Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and HUD Public Housing Program. Let’s take a look at how seniors can benefit from the housing programs.
The iCan connect is a program designed to make life easier and comfortable for seniors with disabilities. The program offers seniors with vision and hearing loss assistive technology equipment, making life more enjoyable for them. To qualify for the program, interested seniors must provide proof of low income. The specialist associated with the program will install the necessary devices in the homes of selected seniors.
The Fair is a program designed for seniors having trouble with getting a homeowner’s insurance. Homeowners can have a hard time getting home insurance for their house if the house is situated in an area prone to natural disasters or old electrical and plumbing installations. The Fair plan provides insurance for seniors’ homes; it may not cover all the property, but seniors will feel much safer if they know there is insurance on some of their properties.
Unlike other housing programs that we have discussed above, the USDA Housing Repair Program operates differently. The program helps seniors obtain housing loans at a low rate or grants for house repair or improvements. To be eligible for the loan, seniors must be of a minimum age of 62 and proof of low income. For grants, seniors won’t need to pay back, but seniors can pay back in the case of loans within an extended and convenient period.
This program is a program authored and managed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seniors must have a minimum age of 50 years to be eligible for the program. Seniors selected for the program won’t have to pay more than 30% of their gross income for housing rental. This is a reliable means through which seniors can save up money on housing bills.
Financial Help for Senior Citizens
Seniors can benefit from several financial help made available to them by the federal government. Some of the financial aid include Income benefits and Emergency financial help.
SSI is a federal program that provides seniors with cash benefits monthly. Seniors older than 65 years and with low income can benefit from this program. The amount each senior will receive will vary based on their living arrangement and income.
With Social Security, seniors will receive a cash benefit to assist with the daily expenses and bills. For seniors to be eligible, they must have paid into the social security system while working. The earnings record of seniors will affect the amount of benefit they will receive. For the spouse of a deceased senior who is eligible for help, they will collect the benefit.
Seniors that have worked for the federal government are eligible to receive retirement benefits. The program is called the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Through the FERS plan, eligible seniors will receive a retirement plan that provides there significant resources, benefit plan, social security, and the thrift savings plan.
Emergency financial help
Seniors can get financial aid services, such as help with rent or utility costs or extra retirement payments from social security. For example, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), sponsored by the federal government, supports low-income families. Emphasis is typically granted to persons, such as the elderly or the poor, who are more at risk.
Financial support can be given for elderly families facing a home energy emergency. It is possible to solve the problem, too. The problem could be from overdue electricity or heating bill, a shut-off notice being issued, or a shortage of fuel or wood.
Benefits for seniors
There are benefits for a senior, which varies on the state they live in. Some of this benefit includes the opportunity to work and make extra money. Seniors with the strength to use or that love what they do have the chance to continue working even after they retire. There are over 2,500 jobs available in the United States for senior citizens.
Senior Employment Opportunities
The federal government provides programs that provide part-time and full-time jobs for seniors. Some of this program includes:
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
This program helps seniors to learn new skills such as computer programming, office administration, and others. The program provides long-term employment opportunities for seniors, and they also get on-the-job training. In summary, seniors get to learn for free and make money with the Senior Community Service Employment Program.
This is a website with one of the best resources to link seniors with jobs for their age. Seniors can meet new people and work part-time or full-time jobs while still making extra income.
Discounts for seniors
There are lots of discounts available for seniors in the United States; some of the discounts may vary from state to state. The most crucial issue when it comes to discounts for seniors is the age factor. How old should a senior be before he/she is eligible for specific discounts? Based on the category, the age eligibility of seniors can vary. For instance, most insurance companies set a limit of at least 50 years, while restaurants mostly set seniors’ eligibility age to 55 years.
Let’s take a quick run-through at some of the available discounts for seniors and the eligibility conditions.
Restaurant senior discounts
Restaurants have been categorized as one of the most accessible places for seniors to find discounts. However, some restaurants will advertise this offer while some would not want so that seniors can ask about any special request. Below are some examples of restaurants that offer food discounts for seniors:
- Subway: seniors can get up to 10% discount on their food purchases. However, the discount varies across all locations.
- KFC: Seniors will get a small drink as a gift when they purchase the restaurant.
- Taco Bell: Seniors are eligible to get a 5 % discount on their meals at the restaurant across all locations. Also, seniors will receive free beverages if they request for it.
- McDonald’s: Discounts or gift for the restaurant varies based on what seniors purchase. However, seniors can get a free cup of coffee or a discount on one when purchasing.
- Cracker Barrel: There is a senior discount menu available at the restaurant. This can help seniors save money from meal purchases.
Retail senior discounts
Unlike other discounts, senior retail discounts are not as readily available still; this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Many retail stores will offer discounts off purchases when seniors request for it. The deals can help seniors save when making purchases for furniture, clothing, and more. Some of the retail companies senior can look into includes:
- Savers: Based on the location, seniors can get a 10 % discount on their purchases. However, some of the stores don’t offer any discount to shoppers.
- Home Depot: Home Depot offers discounts by matching the discount price that other retail stores will provide for the same product.
- Walmart: Walmart offers few discounts to seniors. Some of the stores offer discounts on a product at specific dates in the week.
- Amazon: To be eligible for discounts on Amazon, seniors have to be an AARP member. Seniors can enjoy up to 50% discounts on Kindle e-books and 10% on audio and print books.
- Banana Republic: the Banana Republic offers constant discounts across all states. Seniors can get up to 10 % off their purchases.
Grocery store senior discounts
Most seniors frequently go to a grocery store since they need lots of fruits, vegetables, and other organic products as they age. Grocery stores offer discounts on grocery purchases and sometimes on particular products. Most discounts in a grocery store are often linked to a card. Some of the grocery stores seniors can research on include:
- Publix: Discounts offered by Publix differ by states. However, seniors can enjoy up to 5 % discounts on their purchases at various times.
- Safeway: For seniors to qualify for discounts at Safeway, they must have a savings card.
- Fred Meyer: Fred Meyer offers one of the highest discounts in the grocery categories but only on the first Tuesday of the month. Seniors can have up to 15% discounts on their purchases.
- Kroger: Not all locations of Kroger offer discounts to seniors; however, some locations offer seniors a discount card.
- Food Lion: Discounts for seniors at Food Lion changes based on the location. However, for locations that offer, seniors get a little discount for their purchase.
Hotel senior discounts
Going for a vacation might not be as expensive as most seniors think. With discounted transportation and accommodation, seniors can get the best out of their holidays and save money. Some of the hotels that offer a discount to seniors include:
- Hampton Inns & Suites: Seniors are eligible for a 10 % discount on accommodation prices at the hotel. However, seniors must make booking 72 hours in advance to qualify for the deal.
- Clarion Hotels: Seniors older than 60 years are eligible for an accommodation discount of 20 % to 30% at the hotel,
- Hyatt Hotels: Seniors older than 62 years are eligible for a 25 % discount to 50 % when they book accommodation at the hotel.
- Intercontinental Hotels: The discount offered at the Intercontinental Hotel varies across states. Seniors with a minimum age of 65 years can call to find out about deals in their area.
- Cambria Suites: Seniors older than 60 years are eligible for a 20 % to 30 % discount on the accommodation price.
Transportation senior discounts
Seniors can save a significant amount of money on transportations through discounts. For any type of transport, especially public transportation, seniors should always ask for a senior discount. Some of the famous transportation discounts available for seniors include:
- Uber: Uber seldom provide discounts for seniors. However, the company has set aside an uberSENIOR Day, which is the first day of the month in most states.
- Greyhound: Seniors with a minimum age of 62 years can enjoy up to 5% on Greyhound bus tickets. For eligibility, seniors are required to provide a photo ID.
- American Airlines: The discounts offered to seniors at American Airlines vary base on the destination. Seniors can call to find out about discounts for seniors.
- Southwest Airlines: Seniors with a minimum age of 65 may be eligible for senior discounts at southwest airlines. However, seniors eligible for the discounts must arrive early at the gate to prove their age.
- Amtrak: Seniors above 62 years are eligible for a 15% discount on their train ticket.
Communication and Internet service senior discounts
Most internet providers in the United States understand the rapidly increasing rate of seniors in the country. Therefore, they offer discounts on most of their communication and internet plans. Most seniors are on a low fixed budget and may not comfortably afford the regular plans. Some of the discounts communication and internet service plan seniors can consider are:
- Verizon: Verizon offers a unique senior plan and discounts, which varies by area. For instance, the Verizon Nationwide 65 Plan provides a discounted rate for seniors.
- T-Mobile: For a constant price of $60/month, seniors over 55 years can apply for unlimited talk and LTE data.
- Comcast: As Comcast discounts vary by location, seniors can call to find out about the discount available for their location.
- AT&T: AT&T offers special plans for seniors at a discounted price.
Free Stuff for seniors
Free Medical Service
Seniors with hearing issues can get free hearing aids. In some states, Medicaid covers the cost of hearing aids for seniors. Other agencies like Rotary clubs and Lions Clubs also offer reconditioned hearing aids for free or at a discounted price based on their income. Also, seniors with low income who need dentures can contact the Aging Office in their states. Office of the Aging also gives seniors free advice on available agencies that provide dentures treatment for free.
Another free service seniors can look into is discounted prescription drugs. Although a vast majority of description drugs will cost seniors money; however, a substantial percentage of the cost is subsidized.
Free Food Service
Senior eligible and selected Seniors for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, CFSP, will receive free or discounted meal programs monthly. The program is handled by the United States Agricultural Department, and only seniors will low-income is considered.
Free Public Transportation
Free transportation varies based on the city, and state seniors live. In some states, seniors have free public transport or medical transportation. San Francisco, for instance, offers free rides to seniors with low income on the Muni.
Free Education for seniors
Seniors can go back to college to acquire more knowledge. There are more than 20 states in the United States that offer a waiver or discounted education for seniors.
Free tax preparation
Senior older than 60 years can benefit from free tax counseling. Seniors can find out about the Tax Counseling for the Elderly in their states. Here is a list of things seniors need to bring along when visiting your local TCE office.