Resources for Senior Citizens
9 MIN READ
Published December 04, 2023 | Updated February 23, 2024
Social Security benefits may be the only income source for many older adults in America. Managing health expenses, groceries, housing, and other basic needs amidst a prolonged stretch of high inflation can be challenging for those without retirement savings.
Fortunately, help for seniors is available through federal and state benefit programs, local charities, and non-profit organizations. However, you’ll only be able to ease your financial burden if you ask for help.
Talk to your family, friends, and local support workers if you need assistance. We also recommend reading the resources and guides we’ve created here, to learn more about the programs and benefits you may be eligible for.
Why the Elderly Might Need Help
The average Social Security monthly payment in August 2023 was $1,705 per month. With inflation and the rising cost of living expenses, older adults may need additional financial help to live comfortably.
For many older adults, retirement comes with added expenses and challenges in the form of health issues. Even with health insurance coverage, paying for out-of-pocket expenses like prescription drugs and deductibles can be a challenge since Social Security accounts for 90% of total annual retirement income for 12% of men and 15% of women in the U.S.
Additionally, older adults may face challenges like isolation and mobility issues. They may need help with their daily activities, such as grocery shopping, paying bills, as well as regular upkeep and cleaning of their homes.
For those looking to help seniors thrive, Brad Reichert, founder and managing director of Reichert Asset Management LLC, urges citizens to help where they can. “Due to overwhelming demand, especially in certain geographic areas of the country, the lack of available staff and non-profit volunteers to help administer these programs can create long waitlists for seniors who would otherwise benefit greatly from these support services,” Reichert explains.
“If you are in a position to donate your time or to work for one of these programs, reach out to the local chapter of one of these organizations in your area,” Reichert encourages.
The Importance of Asking for Help for Senior Citizens
With self-reliance a prized virtue in our culture, many older adults may be afraid to accept assistance because of the fear of giving up their lifestyle. Most older adults want to age in place, and accepting help comes with the fear of leaving their homes.
For many senior citizens, accepting help is often associated with shame and fear. After taking care of others throughout their life, it can be difficult for retired persons to admit they need help. Many avoid asking for help because they don’t want to be a burden or a source of worry for loved ones.
While it is difficult, taking advantage of financial assistance for seniors can be a big step towards living comfortably and retaining independence for as long as possible. A lot of government programs can help you pay for things like healthcare, groceries, and housing, minimizing your need to rely on family members and friends.
Resources and Programs for Seniors
Many senior citizens may not take advantage of resources and government programs simply because they’re not aware they may be eligible for them. In the next few sections, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive list of benefit programs and resources that you should explore.
Food and Grocery
The federal government offers several food cards for seniors and assistance programs to help bring the cost of groceries down:
- If you qualify, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can provide you with money to purchase groceries at participating grocery stores.
- You can also get free vouchers to purchase fresh produce from local farmers’ markets and roadside stands through the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides elderly persons with a free monthly food box with fresh produce, dairy, juice, cereal, meat, and more.
If you’re at least 62 years old and have the full 40 quarters (or “credits”) of covered employment (or self-employment) required to qualify, you can receive retirement income benefits through Social Security, which can be a major source of income for retirees.
When you begin Social Security benefits at your full retirement age (aka, your FRA, which is between age 66 and 67, depending on what year you were born), you could receive a maximum of $3,627 per month.
Additionally, if you’re 65 years old and have limited resources and income, you can get an additional cash benefit in the form of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these benefits combined can provide a significant boost to your financial security.
Healthcare is a primary area of focus for many senior stimulus programs. If you meet the age requirements and other eligibility criteria, Medicare can help you pay for most healthcare services and supplies. You can also sign up for the Medicare Savings Program, which covers the cost of prescription drugs, vision, and dental services.
You may also qualify for Medicaid and the Extra Help program, which helps you pay for premiums, copays, and deductibles.
Dental Help for Seniors
Your local dentists and dental schools may often provide free services for senior citizens. Check with your state’s dental association to find schools serving older adults.
Donated Dental Services (DDS) also offers free dental services to low-income seniors. You may also qualify for free dentures.
Housing is the biggest expense for most people, and for seniors with specific needs, it can be challenging to afford a safe living space that meets their needs. Fortunately, there are a few senior assistance programs that specifically help with housing.
Help With Rent
The Housing Choice Vouchers Program from the HUD can help you pay all or part of the rent. The program is designed for seniors with low income, and the vouchers can be used for private apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.
Low-income homeowners over the age of 62 can get a USDA Repairs Grant if they live in rural areas. The grant money can be used for eligible home repairs to make your home safe.
You can also apply for the Weatherization Assistance Program to repair or replace windows, doors, water heaters, insulation, weather stripping, and more to reduce utility costs.
Another option for energy-related home repairs is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
If you’re looking for a low-income housing option, HUD’s Public Housing Program can provide you access to sanitary and safe subsidized senior living options anywhere in the country. You may be eligible for the program if you’re over 62 years of age and meet the income requirements.
Free Money for Seniors
Free government money for seniors may be available through enrollment in a variety of programs like Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, nutritional vouchers and food stamps, grants for home repairs, and more. Your state may also have specific programs for seniors that may help.
Help With Taxes
The IRS has two programs for tax help for seniors. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program are delivered through qualified local organizations.
If you qualify, you may be able to get tax preparation and tax filing services, as well as guidance on property tax and other areas for free with one of these programs.
Travel and Transportation
If you need help with reliable transportation, the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program is worth considering. This program is designed for seniors and is delivered through Medicaid.
If you qualify for the program, you may be able to get free transportation for doctor visits and other health-related appointments.
Help With Technology
Technology can help older adults stay connected and engaged with family and friends. It can provide them with a sense of belonging and may make it easier to reach out for help.
If you have hearing loss, it may be difficult for you to use a phone. You may be eligible for a free CaptionCall phone that can caption incoming calls, making it easier for you to communicate with others.
Senior citizens can also find free or low-cost legal help through nonprofit organizations like Legal Services Corporation.
You can also use the volunteer lawyer directory at LawHelp.org to find pro bono programs in your area. Another option is to use the Eldercare Locator to find local organizations and lawyers that provide free legal help.
Seniors with Disabilities
Seniors with disabilities may face additional challenges and may need extra help to support their needs. The Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are two options for disabled Americans that provide benefits.
HUD’s Section 811 is another program that provides supportive services and funds new homes and modifications for those who are disabled. Your state’s paratransit services can provide free or low-cost transportation services.
Other Resources and Support Networks for Seniors
Seniors and their caregivers can also get support through support networks, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Your local stores and service providers may also offer senior discounts. Here are a few resources we recommend:
- 1-800-677-1116 or Eldercare Locator
- BenefitsCheckUp tool
- Benefit Finder tool
- 211 for community-based resources
- AARP’s program database
- Meals on Wheels for nutritious meals at home
- Volunteers of America for meals, transportation, and assisted living care
- AmeriCorps for volunteer programs for companionship and home care
- The National PACE Association for in-person rehabilitation and medical services
- Feeding America for meals and food banks
- Learn more about life insurance settlement options if you lose a family member
Find Resources and Get Help
Older adults face a lot of challenges with health problems, financial uncertainty, and difficulties with everyday tasks. Take advantage of the benefits and assistance programs offered by the federal government, state government, your local community, and non-profit organizations to help reduce your stress and live comfortably in your golden years.