With the prices of goods and services up 3.2% over the 12 months ending October, Americans are feeling their wallets shrinking. Nobody feels it more than retirees living on fixed incomes, making it more important to know which financial assistance programs may be available.

The average Social Security benefit is $1,709, which is often the largest or only source of income for retirees. With increasing health care costs and rising costs of groceries, it’s often difficult for retirees to make ends meet.

Fortunately, the federal government and nonprofit organizations offer financial assistance for seniors that help ease the burden of food, healthcare, utilities, and housing costs.

“With inflation, medical bills, the rising cost of living, and social security benefits being so low, seniors really need all the help they can get,” says Teresa Dodson, financial expert and founder of Greenbacks Consulting. “These programs could really help those in need,” she adds. 

In this article, we’ll offer you a comprehensive list of all programs currently available for senior citizens.

How To Get Financial Help for Seniors

One of the main reasons why so many seniors don’t take advantage of financial assistance programs is due to a lack of knowledge. There are several resources you can use to find programs for which you may qualify:

The BenefitsCheckUp tool by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) allows you to search through private and public benefits programs.

Another option is Eldercare Locator, which helps you find agencies where you live that help with caregiver support, home-based care services, assisted living, nursing homes, transportation, and more. You can also find an agency by calling Eldercare at 1-800-677-1116.

Benefits.gov also has a Benefit Finder tool where you can fill out a questionnaire to find benefits you may be eligible for.

Senior Citizen and Elderly Assistance Programs

Senior citizens often need programs that are designed for their unique needs. If you’re a senior citizen or a family member looking for programs and resources, explore the options we’ve provided below and check if you qualify.

1. Food Programs

Even with rising food prices, many seniors eligible for food assistance don’t receive these benefits because they aren’t aware of them. There are multiple programs to help with nutrition, food costs, and even grocery stimulus such as:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of Americans get access to food. If you’re disabled or over 60 years old, you may also qualify for deduction food allowances and other benefits.

Meals on Wheels delivers meals directly to seniors through local programs. The USDA also runs the Seniors Farmer Market Nutrition Program, which offers seniors locally-grown fresh produce.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) distributes food through local organizations. Depending on availability, seniors can get access to nutritious options like milk, cheese, fresh produce, and meat.

How To Apply:

2. Medical Bills Programs

For healthcare-related financial assistance for seniors, Medicare programs help cover costs. The Medicare Extra Help Program helps seniors with prescription drugs.  If you have full Medicaid coverage, get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or get help through the Medicare Savings Program, you may get enrolled in the program automatically.

The Medicare Savings Program is a state program that helps those who can’t afford health insurance premiums and deductibles. There are four different savings programs, each with its own income limits for qualification.

How To Apply:

  • Medicare Extra Help: If you're not automatically enrolled, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
  • Medicare Savings Program: Contact your state's Medicaid office to apply.

3. Housing Programs

The HUD’s Public Housing Program offers qualifying seniors subsidized housing throughout the country. If you’re over 62 years old and meet the income qualification requirements, you may be eligible for the program.

If you need help with energy bills, weatherization, or energy-related home repairs, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help.

The Housing Choice Vouchers Program also offers subsidies to the elderly for rent.

How To Apply:

4. Income Programs

If you’re looking for a job to boost your income in retirement, the Senior Community Service Program (SCSEP) can help you re-enter the workforce. If you’re over the age of 55, the program pays you minimum wage to work at community or government agencies. SCSEP also offers training for jobs so you can pursue new career opportunities.

How To Apply:

5. Transportation Programs

Medicaid offers free transportation services for seniors through the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation program. It covers healthcare-related transportation, but details may vary depending on the state you reside in.

You may also qualify for paratransit service in your area through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While this isn’t a free program, it offers curb-to-curb service.

How To Apply:

  • Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: Call your Medicaid caseworker or your health plan’s transportation number.
  • Paratransit service: Call your local transportation department.
  • Call 211 for transportation assistance.

6. Help Paying Taxes

If you need help filing your taxes, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program offers free help. The IRS sponsors this program, and it’s delivered through qualified local organizations.

Another option is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free preparation for basic tax returns for seniors.

How To Apply:

  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly: Use the TCE locator tool to find your nearest site or call 1-800-906-9887.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program: Use the VITA locator tool to find your nearest site or call 1-800-906-9887.

7. Help for Disabled Seniors

The Supplemental Income and Social Security are the largest federal programs that provide financial assistance for seniors with disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits if you’re insured, while the Supplemental Security Income offers benefits based on your financial need.

The HUD’s Section 811 program offers supportive services and helps fund and develop new homes that benefit those who are disabled.  

How To Apply:

8. Help for Seniors With Pets

There are various non-profit organizations that provide financial assistance for seniors with pets. Pets for the Elderly covers fees for seniors who want to adopt a pet from an animal shelter.

The Seniors for Seniors is an adoption program that helps match seniors with pets at a reduced adoption rate. If you’re looking for non-profit charities or financial resources for pet owners, the Humane Society also has a list for each state.

How To Apply:

9. Emergency Financial Help

If you need emergency financial aid, dial 211 to connect with agencies offering essential community services. The program can connect you with local utility assistance, rent assistance, shelters, clothing and food banks, transportation, community meals, and more.

10. Debt Help for Seniors

If high debt payments are making it difficult for you to manage your finances, consider senior citizen debt relief programs. High-interest debt like credit cards and personal loans can make it difficult for you to keep up with essential living expenses. Debt relief can help you repay some or all of that debt so you can free up your income or tackle elderly debt collection issues.

Depending on your financial situation, you may consider debt relief options like consolidation, debt settlement, debt management programs, or bankruptcy. TurboDebt can help you determine the right option based on your unique situation.

Find Financial Assistance for Seniors

Senior citizens struggling to pay for essentials on a limited income have several free services, resources and financial assistance programs to rely on. Start by searching for specific programs near you through these resources: