Senior citizens, retirees and other individuals over 60 have other resources besides the local pancake house’s Early Bird Special to help them weather any financial challenges during their retirement. Many are eligible for government programs that may or may not specifically target the elderly as well as community resources at the local and state levels.
Federal LIHEAP Program
If you are unable to pay your energy bills, the federal government works with state governments to administer the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which offers financial assistance to offset immediate bills. It isn’t intended as a long-term subsidy, and interested individuals and families may contact their local LIHEAP community program office to learn more about eligibility requirements. The program also offers assistance with weatherization and home repairs.
Senior Community Service Employment Program
If you’re a senior over the age of 55 and are seeking work but have low unemployment prospects, consider applying for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), a work-based training program subsidized by the department that places trainees into part-time, paid positions at public facilities and nonprofits, including senior centers, schools and day-care centers, among others. The participants are paid during their employment and are provided extensive training and orientation in their new jobs. Placement assistance is also offered upon completion of their service through the federal “One-Stop Career Centers” program.
If you’re a veteran of any of the armed services, you can avail yourself of numerous benefits offered by the U.S. government, including medical care, a prescription drug program, priority when applying for federal employment positions, housing loans, education benefits, life insurance and even a grant to purchase a vehicle with special adaptive equipment if the veteran sustained a disability during her service. Many benefits, such as education assistance and medical care, may be extended to spouses and dependents, depending on factors such as a service-related disability.
Many senior citizens on the federal Medicare program find that they are unable to pay their bills despite the Medicare subsidy. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers a number of supplemental insurance plans at reasonable cost to fill in the gap. The plans vary depending on the applicant’s age; AARP also provides a comprehensive prescription drug plan that expands upon Medicare’s drug coverage.
Having trouble filling out your tax forms? If you’re over 60, you’re eligible for free tax counseling from the IRS through its Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Assistance is available through nonprofit organizations in partnership with the IRS; they recruit and train volunteers to provide the counseling.
Housing Subsidies and Assistance
Senior citizens over 60 can also take advantage of numerous federal programs to assist them with housing costs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, provides rent subsidies to apartment owners, maintains public housing units and also oversees the Section 8 program, which provides vouchers for eligible recipients to assist with rent at apartments or homes of their choosing. The Retirement Housing Foundation is a registered nonprofit that provides direct financial assistance and housing to low-income seniors in communities around the U.S.