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Savvy Senior: Where to find help to pay for everyday needs

Dear Savvy Senior: What types of programs are available to help seniors struggling with their everyday bills, and how do I go about finding them? Since I lost my husband last year, my Social Security survivor benefit is barely enough to get by on. — Searching Senior

Dear Searching Senior: You’ll be happy to know that there are dozens of financial assistance programs and government benefits that may be able to help you with everyday costs.

To locate these types of programs, your best resource is BenefitsCheckUp.org. This is a free, confidential online screening tool designed for older adults and people with disabilities. It will help you find federal, state and local benefits programs that can assist with paying for food, utilities, health care, medications, housing and many other needs. This site — created by the National Council on Aging in 2001 — contains nearly 2,000 programs across the U.S.

Types of benefits

Depending on your income level, location and circumstance, here are a few of the many benefits you may be eligible for:

Nutrition assistance: Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help pay for food at the grocery store. The average SNAP benefit for 60-and-older households is around $105 per month. Some other nutrition programs that are available to seniors include the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Utility assistance: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides assistance in lowering home heating and cooling costs. The Weatherization Assistance Program helps you get free energy repairs and services to lower your energy bills.

Broadband assistance: The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a $30 monthly subsidy that can be applied toward your home internet cost. The ACP works with certain internet providers such as Cox, which offers discounted and free high-speed internet through its ConnectAssist plan (see cox.com/digitalequity).

Health care and medicine: Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid can help with or cover seniors’ out-of-pocket health care costs. And for assistance with medications, there’s a low-income subsidy program called Extra Help that assists with paying premiums, deductibles and copayments on Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. You can also search for prescription drug help through patient assistance programs or your state pharmaceutical assistance program at Medicare.gov.

Supplemental Security Income: Administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI (see ssa.gov/ssi) provides monthly payments to very low-income seniors, 65 and older, as well as to those who are blind and disabled. In 2023, SSI pays up to $914 per month for a single person and up to $1,371 for couples.

In addition to these benefits, there are dozens of other programs BenefitsCheckUp can help you identify, such as housing assistance, property tax reduction, veterans benefits, senior transportation, caregiving support, free legal assistance, disability services, job training and more.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org

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