Federal and State Financial Assistance for Seniors
Many seniors find themselves struggling with the costs of basic day-to-day necessities in retirement. When you’re living on a fixed income, it can be challenging to keep up with the rising costs of food, housing, medical care and other regular expenses.
According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, 4.9 million seniors lived in poverty in 2019. But even seniors who aren’t officially in poverty may have trouble making ends meet. The National Council on Aging, an advocacy group for seniors, notes that more than 15 million seniors — about one-third of older Americans — are economically insecure.
Many resources are available to help seniors live comfortably during their golden years. This guide introduces the state and federal government programs that could provide the support you need.
Financial Assistance Programs
Financial assistance programs provide monthly cash payments that can help you pay for groceries, clothing, rent or anything else you might need.
Social Security is a federal government program that provides monthly payments to retirees. The retirement benefits you’re eligible to receive are calculated based on your lifetime earnings. In January 2022, retired workers received an average of $1,660.90 per month.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income is a federal government program that offers monthly payments to low-income seniors. As of 2022, eligible individuals may receive up to $841 per month. Some states have a State Supplement Program. The SSP is designed to complement SSI and provide additional income to meet seniors’ needs.
Medical Assistance Programs
Medical assistance programs may help you pay for the medical care and supplies you need to stay healthy.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that can help people 65 and older pay for their medical care. It may help cover hospital stays, doctors’ visits and other services that seniors need. Several programs can help seniors pay for Medicare costs, including Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program for eligible low-income people. Nationwide, about 7.2 million seniors get health coverage from Medicaid. Each state runs its own Medicaid program, so eligibility requirements and benefits packages may vary depending on where you live.
VA Benefits for Elderly Veterans
If you served in the U.S. military, you may be eligible for a variety of benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This could include health care at a VA hospital or outpatient clinic in your community. Qualifying veterans could also receive an increased monthly pension amount to help cover the costs of long-term care services.
State Assistive Technology Programs
Your state’s Assistive Technology Program could help you access the devices and equipment you need to live independently, such as mobility and cognitive aids. Program services may vary from one state to another. Depending on your location, you might have access to device demonstrations, lending libraries, low-cost financing and other services.
Housing Assistance Programs
Housing assistance programs may help you with rent payments, utility bills, home repairs, property taxes and other housing-related expenses.
USDA Housing Repair Loans and Grants
The United States Department of Agriculture offers Housing Repair Loans and Grants to help low-income seniors stay in their homes. USDA loans can be used to make necessary repairs or improvements, such as removing health hazards or making home modifications for accessibility. Seniors who aren’t able to repay a loan may qualify for a grant.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can help seniors pay for their home energy bills. It may provide assistance with heating costs during the winter months or cooling costs during the summer months. States administer their own LIHEAP programs, so the amount of assistance you could receive may vary depending on where you live.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income people make their homes more energy-efficient. The program may provide a wide variety of improvements and upgrades, from replacing windows to installing insulation. These projects can help reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.
Housing Choice Vouchers
If you’re a renter, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher program may help with your monthly rent. This program pays a housing subsidy directly to the landlord. The size of the subsidy may vary depending on local rent prices and the renter’s household income.
State Property Tax Relief Programs
States may provide property tax relief programs to help senior homeowners stay in their homes. The details of these tax breaks may vary from one state to another, but they could help free up money in your budget for other needs. In some states, seniors can exempt a portion of their home’s value from property taxes. Other states may offer property tax deferrals or real estate tax freezes.
Food Assistance Programs
Food assistance programs may provide healthy, nutritious food and help you stretch your grocery budget.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is federally funded and helps low-income seniors pay for fresh, nutritious food. Seniors with incomes no more than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level may be eligible to receive farmers’ market coupons. These coupons can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program
The USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides monthly food packages to eligible low-income seniors. This program could help you stretch your grocery budget and add healthy foods to your diet. Some examples of foods you might find in the monthly package include dry beans, evaporated milk and canned fruits.
Guides to Financial Assistance for Seniors in Every State
Navigating numerous government websites to find the programs you need can be time consuming and daunting. To make it easy for you to learn about the financial assistance programs that may be available to you, we created these resource guides for all 50 states. Find your state’s guide below to learn about the financial assistance resources available in your state.