How to track down financial assistance programs for seniors

BY JIM MILLER, Savvy Senior Published: April 30, 2012
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Dear Savvy Senior:

What resources can you recommend for locating government assistance programs for seniors? My husband and I have been helping support his mother for the past three years and we can’t afford to do it any longer.

-- Tapped Out

Dear Tapped:

Locating government benefits and financial assistance programs for seniors is actually pretty easy to do thanks to two key resources created by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). Here’s where you can turn to for help.

Online search

If you have access to the Internet, the easiest and most convenient way to search for benefits for seniors is at benefitscheckup.org.

Created by the NCOA 10 years ago, BenefitsCheckUp is a free, confidential web-based service that helps low-income seniors and their families identify federal, state and private benefits programs that can help with prescription drug costs, health care, utilities, and other basic needs.

This site contains more than 2,000 programs across the country.

To help identify benefits that could help your mother-in-law, you’ll need to fill out an online questionnaire that asks things like her date of birth, zip code, expenses, income, assets, veteran status and a few other factors. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Once completed, you’ll get a report detailing all programs and services she may be eligible for. You can also apply for many of the programs online, or you can print an application form, fill it out and mail it in.

Phone assistance

If, however, you don’t have Internet access you can also get help over the phone by calling the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116), which will assign you a counselor to review your mother-in-law’s situation, and provide you with a list of possible programs she may be eligible for, and who to contact to get the ball rolling.

Types of benefits

Depending on her income level and where she lives, some of the different benefits that may be available to your mother-in-law include:

Food Assistance: Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help pay for her groceries.



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