Critter Corner: Benefit Programs for Eligible Retirees

Hayek 1Dear Hayek,

My wife and I recently retired and are finding it hard to keep up with day-to-day living costs. Are there any benefits that we may be eligible for that can help?

Thanks so much!

Ben A. Fitz

Dear Ben,

A retirement crisis is emerging in America, with most retirees falling far short of the recommended retirement savings amount. Many retired older adults go into debt just to keep up with day-to-day living costs. In fact, one survey found that 75% of retirees carry debt into their retirement. Luckily, there’s a range of benefit programs available to help eligible retirees save money on healthcare, utility bills, food, and more.

What Can Seniors do to Lessen Financial Stress During Retirement?

Seniors facing financial instability in retirement need to find ways to save money where they can. One important way to do this is through benefit programs that help lower-income older adults pay for healthcare, prescriptions, food, housing, and more. Here are some programs to consider:

Medicare Help: Are you having trouble affording your healthcare expenses? You may qualify for Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which were created for Medicare recipients with limited incomes. Four Medicare Savings Programs are available, each with its own income and resource criteria. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary with limited income and assets, you may qualify for Medicare Extra Help. This program offers additional financial assistance with prescription drug costs.

Energy Assistance: If you’re worried about heating your home during the chilly winter—or keeping it cool and comfortable in the summer, you may be able to get a helping hand. The federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. LIHEAP provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs. Another option for energy assistance is the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This initiative helps eligible older adults lower their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient—even if they rent or live in a multi-family complex.

Housing Assistance: Retirees who haven’t yet paid off their mortgage—or who face high and increasing rents—often face challenges staying in their home as they age. There are several programs available to help eligible older adults manage their housing needs. The type of assistance provided varies, but you may be able to get help remaining in your current home or finding an apartment or retirement community. HUD also sponsors counseling agencies to advise older adults on issues such as foreclosures, evictions, and credit issues.

Wireless or Home Phone Bill Assistance: Your phone helps you stay connected to your family, friends, and community—but those monthly bills can really add up! Through the Lifeline Phone Discount program, older adults can receive monthly discounts on basic wireless or home telephone service. These savings may be in the form of free wireless minutes or a lower monthly phone bill. You may qualify for this program if you have limited income or if you’re currently enrolled in programs including Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Food Assistance: Do you feel like you’re able to purchase less and less on the same grocery budget each week? You’re not alone. With rising grocery prices, retirees on a fixed income are really feeling the squeeze. Fortunately, there are several food assistance programs that can offer relief for eligible households that are struggling to afford food. The most common is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps).

For additional tips during this challenging time, please see our articles on coping with inflation.

Hope this helps!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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