Thousands of public and private programs are available to help eligible low-income older adults pay for health care, prescriptions, food, and utilities. Yet millions of eligible seniors are missing out on these benefits because they don’t know about the programs or how to apply. As a result, too many make dangerous trade-offs, such as foregoing needed home repairs, avoiding social engagements, skipping meals, and cutting pills.
The You Gave, Now Save campaign is a collaborative effort by NCOA and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) to educate seniors and caregivers about the benefits available to them.
What benefits mean for struggling older adults
One in three Americans aged 65+ is economically insecure—lacking the resources needed to meet basic food, housing, and medical needs. As the Boomer population ages, these numbers are expected to increase over the next decade, with an estimated 78 million people aged 60+ living in the community by 2020, and 28 million of these living with incomes below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (roughly $29,700 in 2016).
Federal surveys and statistics bear out the challenges this population faces in managing their money:
- Older adults are struggling to cover their basic expenses: According to the Survey of Consumer Finances, older adult households spend, on average, $28,644.30 on the basic costs of living. Yet roughly 8.5 million older Americans have annual incomes below $24,000.
- More older adults are living in poverty: The percentage of seniors aged 65+ living in poverty (income below $11,880 for an individual in 2016) has crept up from 8.9% in 2010 to 10% in 2014. Over the same period, the total number of seniors living in poverty has increased from 3.6 million to 4.6 million.
- Debt levels for seniors are double 2001 levels: Over 60% of households headed by a person aged 60+ had some form of debt in 2013. Among them, the median debt was $40,900—or double what it was in 2001.
For these seniors, benefits can play a vital role in reducing their expenses and increasing their budgets.
For example, a two-person household with an income of $21,000 annually could be eligible for more than $6,000 a year in benefits, freeing up 29% of their annual budget. Without benefits, the same household could incur more than $7,500 in debt that year.
Guide to benefits for seniors
The You Gave, Now Save guide to benefits for seniors provides detailed information about the benefits programs available, who may be eligible, and how to get further information and application assistance. The guide includes benefits related to:
- Health care and prescriptions
- Housing and household utilities
- Income, tax, and legal support
Please contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to request print copies of this guide.
Help online and in your community
Several resources are available to help seniors and their loved ones get assistance in identifying and applying for programs that can save them money on health care, food, household utilities, and more.
- NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® is the nation’s most comprehensive free, online service to screen seniors with limited income for more than 2,000 public and private benefits available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- The Eldercare Locator is a public information service of the U.S. Administration for Community Living and administered by n4a. The Locator’s National Call Center is open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET and serves as a trusted gateway for older adults and caregivers searching for information on benefits, home and community-based services, transportation, and more. Call toll-free 1-800-677-1116.
- NCOA also supports 47 Benefits Enrollment Centers in 29 states, which offer personalized, one-on-one assistance to people with Medicare to find and enroll in all of the benefits for which they may be eligible.