9 Government Benefits You Might Be Missing Out On

Senior couple meeting with agent

Is there anything more on our minds these days than stretching our dollars? And no question, nothing sabotages your budget like an illness or other health problem, especially one that affects your ability to carry out your everyday obligations. But help is available -- much more help than most people realize. Here are nine government benefits that experts say most people are missing out on.

1. Social security payments to dependents

Who's eligible: Widows and widowers, children, and other dependents of a social security recipient

What you get: Monthly payments based on the social security recipient's work history

How it works: After a death in the family, many people fail to take advantage of money they're entitled to receive from the Social Security Administration. Known as "survivor benefits," these payments are made to the spouse of the deceased and any children or stepchildren under the age of 18. To qualify, the widowed spouse must be over the age of 60 or over the age of 50 and disabled; if the spouse is caring for children under the age of 16, then this age restriction doesn't apply. And in some cases, stepchildren, grandchildren, or step grandchildren can also collect. If a child is severely disabled, he or she can collect on a parent's social security for as long as needed.

And one more thing that few people know: The parents of a social security recipient can collect up to one half that person's social security payment if they were dependent on the deceased for at least half their support. For more information, go to the government's Social Security site and scroll down to see the section titled "Benefits for your family."

Tip: Divorce doesn't disqualify you. You can collect on an ex-spouse's social security if you were married for more than ten years before you divorced and the benefits you are entitled to from your own work are less than his (or hers). If your ex-spouse has not yet filed for social security benefits, then an additional requirement is that you have to have been divorced for at least two years.

2. Shoes for diabetics

Who's eligible: Anyone with diabetes who's eligible for Medicare Part B

What you get: Custom-made shoes and inserts

How it works: If you have diabetes, it might surprise you to know that Medicare Part B will pick up most of the tab for therapeutic shoes. The criteria are fairly simple: You need to be under the care of a doctor for diabetes management and also suffering from serious foot problems, including ulcers, calluses that can lead to ulcers, nerve damage, poor circulation, or deformities.

The coverage is extensive; Medicare will cover 80 percent of the cost of one pair of specially made shoes and three pairs of inserts. Once you get a prescription for therapeutic shoes either from your doctor or from a podiatrist, the shoes will be fitted and provided by a podiatrist or licensed specialist who participates in Medicare.

Tip: You have to have met your Medicare yearly deductible to get this coverage, so wait a few months into the year until you've had a few other medical bills before pursuing.

3. Free rides

Who's eligible: People with mobility problems and seniors

What you get: Transportation to and from your home to appointments and activities

How it works: Paratransit is the official term for transportation provided by local communities for those who can't drive or comfortably use regular public transportation. These services vary by community, but typically it's a door-to-door van service that's available by appointment. The services are provided by local government agencies, but they receive federal funds intended to guarantee access for the disabled and elderly.

To find out more about the federally funded transportation options in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. More transportation resources are available by searching the Department of Health and Human Service's Eldercare Locator on the topic Transportation.

Tip: These services typically require advance planning. It works best if you establish a regular weekly schedule, so you don't have to remember to call each time.

4. Low-interest loans for small businesses affected by disaster

Who's eligible: Any business or nonprofit damaged in a disaster

What you get: Up to $2 million in low-interest, long-term loans

How it works: If your business is affected by a natural disaster such as a flood or hurricane, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest long-term loans to help you rebuild, make repairs, restock inventory, and do anything else you need to do to get your business back off the ground. The loans can be used to make repairs to the property itself or to machinery and equipment; the money can also be used to replace furnishings and inventory.

Tip: You can get a larger loan to pay for improvements to your property that protect against future damage.

5. Home or car modifications for veterans

Who's eligible: Veterans with a disability

What you get: A loan or loan guarantee to buy a house or car or modify an existing house or car

How it works: The Veteran's Administration provides extensive services to veterans who are considered to have a service-related disability that prevents them from performing normal, everyday activities. But this doesn't mean that you had to become disabled during service; for many veterans, a mental, emotional, or physical condition that began decades before in the military only becomes disabling with age. In this case, you may qualify for service-connected disability benefits at the point that your condition actually becomes disabling.

A key V.A. disability benefit comes in the form of loans and loan guarantees to help veterans buy or refinance a home or condominium. These loans can also be used to modify a home or car. For some veterans with service-connected disabilities, the V.A. also gives Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants, which pay for modifications to a home to adapt it to accommodate their disability.

Tip: If you live with family members, the grants may also be used to modify the home you're living in or the car in which you're being driven, even though it's not owned by you.

6. Free credit check

Who's eligible: Everyone

What you get: Three credit reports per year at no cost

How it works: Don't get sucked in by the offers from for-profit credit repair companies; you can monitor your credit and fix any problems without spending anything. One of the ways the government helps us protect ourselves from fraud is by offering a free yearly credit check. By law, you're entitled to request one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Stagger your requests, and you could monitor your credit every four months at no cost. However, many experts advise ordering all three reports at once so you can compare them. To find out more, go to the federally authorized website www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

7. Therapy for Alzheimer's patients

Who's eligible: Patients with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia covered by Medicare Part B

What you get: Specialized services including outpatient physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy

How it works: For those dealing with memory loss, occupational therapy and physical therapy can be key to coping with the tasks of daily living. To qualify, you just need your doctor to prescribe the treatment, and then use a Medicare-certified therapist. Although Medicare doesn't usually cover psychological services by nonphysicians, there's an exception for Alzheimer's care. (Coverage extends to clinical psychologists or medical social workers who are Alzheimer's care specialists, as long as they're Medicare-certified.)

Tip: If you have Medicare Part C coverage, also called Medicare Advantage, you may be entitled to even more counseling or to additional services.

8. Burial benefits for veterans

Who's eligible: Veterans approved for eligibility with the Veteran's Administration

What you get: A grave site and headstone and, for some, a burial allowance for funeral expenses

How it works: If you're a veteran, you're eligible to be buried in any of the 131 national cemeteries, or in the state cemetery in the state you're living in at the time of death. Your spouse and children are eligible for the same benefit. The choice to be buried in a particular cemetery depends on whether there are grave sites available, and grave sites can't be reserved prior to death. There's no cost to your family for the grave site or for a government headstone or marker, which the cemetery provides. However, this benefit doesn't include the cost of either a funeral or cremation, which must be made privately.

For vets who prefer to be buried in a private cemetery, the government will still provide a government headstone or marker and burial flag. In addition, the Veteran's Administration offers a funeral and burial allowance to some veterans. If a veteran dies of a service-related disability, the V.A. pays up to $2,000 for burial expenses, plus the cost of transportation to a V.A. national cemetery. If the death isn't service-related but the veteran died while receiving care at a V.A. hospital or one under contract to the V.A., or the veteran is on a veteran's pension, the V.A. will pay up to $700 for funeral and burial expenses and another $700 for the cost of a burial plot or interment space. To find out more about medical and death benefits for veterans, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs.

9. Help with household chores

Who's eligible: Those over 60 or disabled

What you get: Free or low-cost home and yard maintenance and moving help

How it works: If you're struggling to maintain your home, it may be possible to obtain help with all those household tasks that have become difficult or impossible to cope with. Under the auspices of the Older Americans Act, many Area Agencies on Aging offer help with household chores as part of the umbrella of services they offer to help people live independently in their homes. In Florida, for example, the Mid-Florida Area Agency on Aging covers a wide array of household chores including seasonal cleaning, yard work, and household repairs that don't require a specialized license. They'll sometimes even cover pest control if it's part of overall house maintenance. They'll also send someone out to help with lifting and moving furniture, appliances, and other heavy objects.

In some areas, the Area Agency on Aging charges a fee for these services, but it's typically much less than you'd normally pay. In Minnesota, for example, one agency charges $15 an hour for snow removal and yard work. Some programs are free but require participants to pay for the services upfront, then apply for grants for reimbursement. In many cases, the minimum age to qualify is 60. Get started by finding your local Area Agency on Aging.

9 days ago, said...

My daughter is disable she just move to the.Antelope.Valley does she quilify for low income housing. Is assisting living.

12 days ago, said...

A lot of the comments I have read seem like people who could apply for their local vocational rehabilitation programs or Workforce Initiatives opportunities acts through local career centers. I know each state operates these centers a little differently, but they are federal programs. Even so- if you contacted your local offices and did not get anywhere you could then reach out to your local state representative (you can Google "who is my State Rep and type in your city/county) and they can give you some feedback... after all, they are there to represent you.

24 days ago, said...

I have BCBS as Primary Insurance and Medicare as Secondary. I'm in a Power Wheelchair and cannot keep up with household chores. I can mow on a riding mower because it doesn't involve me walking or lifting or moving things. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis as well as other problems and have been disabled since 1997.. My thoracic spine is fused together from the AS. I am married but my husband travels extensively for his job. Would I qualify for in home help?

about 1 month ago, said...

I am an 80 yrs old female and needs help with house cleaning. Have problems with legs and going up stairs become difficult.

3 months ago, said...

For adapastor......... The local Lion's Club has benefits for people who are having trouble making ends meet. You must fill out a request for them to process but it can happen quickly.

4 months ago, said...

My husband was born with spinabifida and now has been diagnosed with diabetes. He is still working but cannot afford eye glasses. Is there any program that provides glasses and/or hearing aids to the elderly who are still in the work force?

5 months ago, said...

I don't understand what you don't understand we live from month to month doing without at end of month

6 months ago, said...

I'm trying to get a free car so I can get to my appointment my son used to take me,and now his working nights there's no one else to help PS I'm on DISABILITY

7 months ago, said...

I would like to bring this to the notice of the public about how i met Anz Jackson Financing PLC after i lost my job and being denied loan by my bank and other financial institution due to my credit score. I could not pay my children's fees. I was behind on bills, about to be thrown out of the house due to my inability to pay my rent, It was during this period my kids were taken from me by foster care. Then i set out to seek for funds online where i lost $3,670 that i borrowed from friends which i was rip off by two companies. Until i read about: anzjacksonfinancingplc@yahoo.com where i was granted a loan to pay up my debts and to start up a business. You can as well give them a call or text at: +18437769340. Why am i doing this? I am doing this to save as many that are in need of a loan not to be victim of scams on the internet.

8 months ago, said...

im 69 yrs old widow, must work full time but job so busy, 60 hours per week. driving a lot up to 1000 miles some weeks. need to stop working, so hard on me now. pain, exhaustion. adult grandkids cant find work, im taking care of them in my home. i pay for everything we all need- 6 of us. i make good money but spread thin with everybodys expense and utilities, bills, car, gas, everything. i need to quit working, i can feel my age finally and know i must stop working like i do. how do i quit without evetything crashing down around me and family?

8 months ago, said...

I need help . I am being evicted out of one of my houses by my abusive ex husband to be homeless .I am disabled, abused and elderly. Thank you

9 months ago, said...

I am 59 yrs old. My husband passed away in 2015, we were separated, not legally. I have Osteoarthritis, two compressed discs in my back. 3 yrs ago, I fell at work; workman's comp was a joke. I have pain in my knees, hips, shoulder and back. I can't stand for very long, and I can't exercise, so I am obese, which makes walking nearly impossible.. Performing everyday chores around the house is not possible, I have no energy. Please help me! Ate there any programs to help me? I don't know where to start. I have no children under 18, and I live alone. I work because I have to. I am so very tired. Just ready to give up. Please help!

9 months ago, said...

so I am 56 and have no children under 18...so the Government took everything and has left me penniless...I live in a rural area and no one will hire me...I spent the last 10 years taking care of my husband. now they say that I can't get any benefits...whats up!!

9 months ago, said...

It does sadden me that so many others seem to have a more difficult time, dime, life. Basically, I've had many talents to give to society, service and business until one fatal divorce, 100% in the negatives. It does find my interest that in a country so rich with people, wealthy than all others, jobs springing back to life, that I find not only a certain state ( Ohio ) leaving us prime older gen's out to rot ( noun ) ( 55 - 65) while a certain age discrimination is being allowed to culminate right before our eyes, is for sure, now solid in my mind, a true thing ( I've been humble across the boards and pass interviews with flying colors until, the age factor ). Now I do look 45ish at 57 most times so, I am now aware that it has to do with insurance costs and age associated. What employers fail to realize is, that I can make you a million in revenue a year and I or others are not worth it ? seriously ? so the numbers. On the other hand, I for the first time in life after spending down my own annuity as income only to get hit with a kidney issue, so I file for help. Takes a few weeks but I get an appointment to wait 2 hours for a 10 minute meet. I instantly notice, I am scoped out. In the interview process, I can not only sense the animosity of ( why are you here ) I can audibly hear it from the agent case examiner who, near instantly flag's my app. Now back to square one restart because someone tipped the wrong data entry key at the state level. So here I am, in the over 57 group of BB'ers, constantly for 6 years looking for employment, paid into the systems for nearly 32 and I can't get help even while my income is more than 43% below the poverty level, I somehow survive, paying what I can, having good people in contact but now, I'm on my own sick. Applied for the medicaid and feeling anxious over that, not at all like my net or gross worth is anywhere approaching just a very few thousand frog backs in an old work truck value, if this is what America was meant to be, I'm still not sure I want to live here even though as my heritage indicates 25% NAI. I'd rather go back to the old ways or not even know that I've paid into a system all these years for services that were to be there when I needed them. More to read at a later time, no hero here, just was the messenger for God, this country and people a service performed and hoping for the best for the rest of the ride. In the meantime to all you males 55-65, plan for the worst and pray / hope for the best and if you loose it all, don't waste time, jump in and begin the processes your entitled to otherwise, you may never get the chance to be improved by the system that never was.

9 months ago, said...

I am disabled from a car accident, my husband lost his job and has not been able to find employment. Our 29 yr old son is disabled with severe mental illness and a spine disease and we are in the process of foreclosure. Where do we go from here? Our son is severely suicidal right now because of the situation and I am starting to feel the hopelessness he feels

10 months ago, said...

I'm 52 and just started receiving CCP disability, osteoarthritis, both knees replaced, I get 1269.00 a month, 474.00 of that goes to my 2 kids I end up with 794.00. It's not enough to pay my bills and I need a car. What can I do . Is there anything else I may be eligible for from our Canadian government? Please help me!

11 months ago, said...

I am a 55 year old widow no children at home my unemployment benefits run out in 3 weeks! Husband died in Jan 2016 lost my job in June 2016. Seems like I will have to sell our home what is left of our 30+ years? Why try ? Never so lonely no one wants to let me work? What do I do? I wish Gov Scott had to live like this. Worked my whole life to loose it all?