Financial Help for Seniors on Social Security
6 MIN READ
Published December 07, 2023 | Updated February 22, 2024
For many American senior citizens, retirement doesn’t come with relief but with growing financial anxiety, especially if they don’t have much savings. If you’re solely relying on Social Security, it may be difficult to make ends meet. Paying for emergencies, like hospital stays, can be even more difficult.
Financial help for seniors on Social Security is available through federal and state governments, non-profit organizations, and local communities. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a list of resources to tap into, organizations that may help, and tips to get the help you need.
Challenges of Living on Social Security
For 12% of men and 15% of women, Social Security makes 90% of their income. Without other savings, paying for daily living costs, such as housing, healthcare, and food, can be difficult.
The average Social Security monthly payment was $1,705 as of August 2023. The impact of inflation on everyday things like groceries puts a big strain on those living on fixed incomes, adding to the stress felt by many retirees about their future.
Financial Assistance Programs
Whether you’re relying solely on Social Security to handle your living expenses or need a little boost to your retirement income, help is available. There are many programs to turn to for financial help for seniors on Social Security:
- Medicare can help cover healthcare costs, such as hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical equipment, temporary nursing home stays, and doctor’s visits.
- Apply for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) to help pay for Medicare premiums, copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- Get free coupons for purchasing fresh produce from farmers’ markets and roadside stands through the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
- Apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive SNAP benefits for purchasing groceries.
- Get a monthly senior food box with nutritious food like fresh produce, dairy, and cereal through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
- If you have very low income or resources, you may be able to get a grocery stimulus or additional financial assistance through Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- You may be able to get a survivor benefit if your spouse has died.
- If you’re interested in re-entering the workforce, you may be able to get minimum wage to work at community or government agencies through the Senior Community Service Program.
- Homeowners living in rural areas can get help with repairs to make their homes safer through the USDA Repairs Grant.
- The Weatherization Assistance Program can do necessary weatherization and repairs for free in your home.
- Get energy-related repairs for free to reduce your energy bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
- Get help paying your rent through the Housing Choice Vouchers Program from the HUD.
“There are so many great programs for seniors, and many seniors don't know about them,” shares Teresa Dodson, a financial expert and the founder of Greenbacks Consulting. “Help the seniors in your life look at these options and change their quality of life,” she encourages.
Financial Help for Seniors on Social Security Eligibility Requirements
Financial help for seniors on Social Security is available through multiple programs. It's important to check the eligibility requirements of each program you’re interested in. Most government programs are designed for low-income senior citizens.
Financial assistance for seniors is only available to legal U.S. residents. You’ll typically have to be at least 55 years old to qualify for most programs.
Your monthly income must fall within the program’s specified income limits to qualify. Additionally, some programs are designed for older adults with disabilities or specific medical conditions, so there may be other eligibility criteria you must satisfy.
6 Tips To Get Financial Help for Seniors on Social Security
While a lot of senior assistance programs are available through the government and non-profit organizations, many fail to take advantage of these due to a lack of knowledge. Below are a few tips to help you make the most of the programs and benefits you may have access to.
1. Use the Right Tools to Research
If you’re not sure where and how to get financial help for seniors on Social Security, there are several tools and resources to simplify your research. We recommend using these tools to research:
2.Understand the Eligibility Criteria
One of the main reasons so many seniors fail to enroll in benefit programs is that they’re not aware they may be eligible for them. Read more about the programs discussed in this guide and check to see if you qualify.
3. Apply to as Many Programs as Possible
Take advantage of as many programs as you qualify for to maximize the amount you receive each month. Even small benefits add up over time and can help you stretch your retirement income over a longer time. Be on the lookout for new senior stimulus programs and options becoming available.
4. Apply for Grants
Other than the benefits we’ve discussed in this guide, you can also apply for available grants. For example, you can get a small stipend when you join as a volunteer for the Foster Grandparent Program.
5. Take Advantage of Free Services
Many organizations offer free services for senior citizens if you qualify. For example, you can get free transportation for doctor visits through the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program.
You can also get free legal assistance and tax help through organizations like Legal Services Corporation and local pro bono programs.
6. Avoid Scams
If someone contacts you and offers you free government money through grants for home repairs, education, or bills, it could be a scam.
Be vigilant and avoid giving out your personal information or paying an upfront fee for a list of grants or government benefits. They may use your personal information to steal your identity or drain your bank account.
Find the Right Organization
Seniors looking for a smoother financial path through benefits can get help from many sources. Other than the federal and state government benefits, which you can find on Benefits.gov, you can also seek help from non-profit organizations.
Here’s a list of organizations that provide financial help for seniors on Social Security:
- Feeding America offers meals to seniors through food banks.
- The National PACE Association offers medical and rehabilitation services.
- AmeriCorps offers several programs through volunteer programs that provide companionship and help with daily tasks.
- Get help with nursing care, transportation, and meals through Volunteers of America.
- Meals on Wheels offers nutritious meals to older adults in group settings or at home.
- Get free or low-cost dental care through the Dental Lifeline Network.
Get Financial Help
Getting older may come with financial uncertainty and stress about how to make ends meet. If you’re relying on Social Security as your only source of income, take advantage of benefits to cope with your living expenses.
The federal government, state government, local communities, and non-profit organizations offer financial help for seniors on Social Security through nutrition programs, companionship, housing assistance, free services, and healthcare.