If Your Income Has Dropped in 2020, Consider a Benefits Check Up
By Rick Delaney, Chairman of the Board
Forty-eight percent of participants in TSCL’s recent Senior Cost Survey say they have gone without essentials including food, disinfecting products, face masks and prescription medicines during the coronavirus pandemic. As businesses, schools and other organizations try to reopen, and new cases continue to occur, we’re concerned that many older households are struggling to cope.
According to the National Council on Aging, millions of older adults, who have trouble affording prescription drugs and healthcare, qualify for Medicare Savings Programs which can help pay for Medicare premiums and cost sharing. In addition, Medicare Extra Help, also known as the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, helps to pay for prescription drugs.
However, almost three million eligible individuals are not enrolled in the programs. Often, knowing how and where to apply is half the battle. The National Council on Aging has an online tool at www.BenefitsCheckUp®.org
that can screen you for eligibility for dozens of programs in your area and provide contact information for where to apply. The tool asks a number of questions to help match you up to benefits.
If you have trouble accessing the website or using the tool, information on these programs can also be found at your area agency on aging, or local senior services department. Here is a sampling of some of the programs available:
- Food: Meals on Wheels, group meals, supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), and information about local food pantries.
- Healthcare: State Health Assistance Program (SHIP) which offers free one-on-one benefit counseling to help you save money on health plan coverage; Medicare Savings Programs, which help pay the Medicare Part B premium for doctors and outpatient care; home and community based services that can help provide services for homebound and disabled older adults; Community health and dental centers where you can access low or even no cost healthcare services.
- Prescription drugs: Medicare Extra Help which covers most, or even all, of the premium of a Part D plan, as well as most of the out of pocket costs for prescription drugs. Patient Assistance Programs, which provide prescription medications at reduced cost. Prescription discount card programs.
- Housing and Utilities: Low Income Home Energy and Assistance Program can help with heating bills; foreclosure prevention and assistance, home repair and renovation programs.
- Tax Relief: Homestead Exemptions, Rebates, Credits, and Refunds, Property Tax Abatements and Deferrals, Home Valuation Freeze, Tax Credit for the Elderly and Disabled.
- Veterans: Veteran Pensions, Aid and Attendance & Homebound Benefits, Home Loans and Special Housing Grants.
- Find more resources from the National Council on Aging at www.NCOA.org.