If you notice your aging parent is struggling financially, you probably want to pitch in and help. Of course, doing so will mean that less money is available to pay your bills and save for your retirement. Your loved one’s money troubles could create economic stress for you and your children. It would be wonderful if you could find a pot of gold in the backyard, but we live in the real world. Here are some tips on how to help your aging parents get financial benefits.
The National Council on Aging
This National Council on Aging created a tool that will search through more than 2,000 federal, state, and private benefits programs across the United States. The search tool can connect your older loved one with assistance that can help pay for housing, medication, food, medical services, utilities, transportation and other necessities.
You can call 888-268-6706 to find a Benefits Enrollment Center in your area. An agency employee can help you at no charge to locate the benefits for which your parent is eligible. After you fill out a questionnaire, you will receive a detailed report listing all those programs and telling you how to apply. You can get application forms and assistance at the Benefits Enrollment Center.
If you prefer, you can do the search yourself online at BenefitsCheckUp.org. This search tool is free and confidential. Once you create the list of programs for which your parent qualifies, you can apply for benefits. Many of the forms are available at the enrollment centers or available online. Some programs require you to contact that entity directly to apply.
How the Benefits Locator Works
The online questionnaire will ask for information like your parent’s:
- Date of birth
- ZIP code
- Prescription drugs
- Veteran status
Your parent must be age 55 or older to use the locator tool. Allow about 15 minutes to complete the online intake form.
Types of Programs for Seniors
There are many government benefits for older Americans, but do not overlook private groups that assist people in need. Some people do not apply for Social Security retirement benefits, because they did not work for enough years to qualify for full retirement benefits.
Your loved one might qualify through a spouse’s work record or be eligible for partial benefits, based on his own limited work history. A few hundred dollars more a month can make enough of a difference that your parent does not need financial help from you.
Depending on several factors like income, age and geographic area, your older parent might qualify for:
- Housing through HUD
- Home repairs or weatherization
- Reduced real estate taxes
- Financial management and budget counseling
- Groceries through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and many regional and local food pantries, meal delivery programs for low-income or elderly people.
- Prescription drugs through Part D Medicare coverage, Medicaid, the federal Low-Income Subsidy (also called Extra Help), drug manufacturers, and charitable groups.
- Utility bill help, including discounts on heating and cooling bills
- Monthly cash benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for very low-income seniors with few assets.
These are just some examples of the multitude of benefits programs available for seniors.
Every state makes its own regulations, so your state might vary from the general law of this article. Be sure to talk to an elder law attorney in your area.
HuffPost. “How to Find Financial Assistance for Elderly Parents.” (accessed October 9, 2019) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-find-financial-ass_b_11388340