There is no clear-cut age that considered you as a senior citizen. What we mean is that your eligibility as a senior citizen differs. There is a fixed age for when you qualify for various types of retirement benefits.
For instance, at age 65, you will qualify for Medicare, and for claiming Social Security benefits you have to wait until 62 years of age or as late as age 70. As for some senior discounts at various retail stores and restaurants, they are made available for people who are 55 and older.
If you’re aged 62 and above and have an annual income that’s below the federal poverty level, then you may be considered a low-income senior citizen.
With more than 70 million baby boomers attaining the age of 62 at a rate of about 10,000 a day, the United States is facing unprecedented growth in the senior citizen demographic. Add this to the fact that a majority of seniors are not financially prepared for retirement and you have a very bleak situation.
Again, about 78% of Americans are extremely worried that their savings may not be enough for them to live out their retirement years in comfort. If you’re one of the millions of seniors who are struggling to afford necessities such as housing, food, and Medicare, you could be considered a low-income senior citizen.
What is Low Income for Senior Citizens?
So let’s delve into what is considered as a low income for senior citizens.
The Federal government guidelines definition of a low-income senior citizen is based on two criteria:
- One; he/she is an individual who has attained 60 years of age.
- The second condition is that he/she has an income of less than $30,000 a year, which is equal to about $2,450 a month, or about $80 a day.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 40% of senior citizens who are of 60 years of age and above fall under the low income to middle-income seniors.
Now that we have cleared who falls under the category of low-income seniors, here are some alarming facts about the life of low income seniors that have come to light.
- Out of the low-income senior adults, 46% of seniors are worried that their income will not be enough to meet their monthly expenses for the next 5 to 10 years.
- 32% of seniors are faced with the fearful prospect of not being able to pay for unexpected expenses.
- 41% of low-income senior adults do not know of the benefits and the government programs that could help them make their lives better.
Here, we give you information on what are the benefits, supportive services, and programs made for senior adults who are below the stated income limit.
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Financial Assistance for Low-Income Seniors
Social Security Income:
Social Security may provide about $1,460 a month or around $17,500 a year.
Now, going by the national cost of living stats, the retirement benefits that you get from your Social Security will cover just one-third of your living expenses. What it means that the money from Social Security should never be your only source of income in retirement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average senior can spend about $4,000 a month or about $46,000 a year. On the other hand, Social Security may only provide about $1,460 a month or around $17,500 a year.
As such, low-income seniors should seriously consider using other forms of Social Security to boost their retirement incomes.
Here are your options:
Social Security Disability Insurance:
You can claim this amount if you are a senior who suffers from disabilities but has worked in jobs covered by Social Security.
Supplemental Security Income:
This is available for eligible senior citizens aged 65 or older, but you need to prove that you are a disabled senior with access to limited resources.
The Survivor Benefits are paid to the senior widow or survivors of deceased workers who were on Social Security.
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Medical Assistance for Low-Income Senior Citizens:
Here are some of the medical help for low-income seniors.
Medicare is a subsidized health insurance program that is made available in three parts:
Part A – This covers the hospital insurance that’s free for senior citizens aged 65 or older and who have paid Medicare taxes for at least a decade.
Part B – The second part of Medicare is to cover medical insurance and typically cost $134 per month.
Part C – This is meant to cover prescription drugs.
Medicaid falls under the federal and state government efforts to provide affordable health care plans. It’s of great help for senior citizens with limited resources. Medicaid is used to cover the costs of visiting healthcare providers, medical transportation, hospital services, prescription drugs, and more.
Now, in addition to the above, here are some medical programs that you can make use of if you qualify for Social Security but have limited resources.
- Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary Program
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program
- Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals Program
- Qualifying Individual Program
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Food and Nutrition Assistance for Senior Citizens
While statistics show that senior citizens will be spending less on food in retirement, food is an essential item and you can avail the benefit from the following programs:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:
The government will provide monthly stipends but only to low-income seniors who qualify.
This is of great help to the eligible low-income seniors to buy their monthly groceries. You need to must show proof of limited income and resources to be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
As per the program, your income should be no more than 130% of the federal poverty level.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program:
This program is sponsored by the USDA and gives low-income seniors coupon vouchers and booklets for buying fresh produce.
You can use these vouchers and booklets at outlets to buy fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, honey, and more from the farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture programs, and roadside stands. Just be aware that you cannot use these coupons to buy canned or dried goods.
Meals on Wheels:
This is a nonprofit organization that provides food assistance to millions of Americans including low-income.
It is categorized under 501(c)(3) and is recognized by the IRS. Meals on Wheels offers a variety of nutritious meals, safety checks, and friendly visits. This program is especially beneficial to a low-income senior citizen who is unable to find affordable senior living options.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program:
This program works in improving the health of low-income seniors by enhancing their diets with nutritious foods. The foods offered by the Commodity Supplemental Food Program include milk, cereals, pasta, rice, dry beans, juice, poultry, canned meat, canned fruits, fresh vegetables, and more.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program:
This federal program offers nutritious food to low-income senior citizens at no cost. The food is mostly bought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and then shipped to various states.
The state can then distribute to local organizations and food banks before they’re distributed to low-income individuals. Of course, the eligibility criteria for availing the benefits of this program do differ from state to state.
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Housing Assistance for Low-Income Seniors
Options for affordable housing include:
HUD Public Housing:
It is administered by federal aid and local housing agencies to help low-income seniors to find affordable housing options.
If you are a low-income and disabled senior, this program lets you find an affordable and safe housing program in the private market. You’ll be issued with a voucher for subsidized housing, but it’s your responsibility to find a suitable subsidized housing unit. The unit you find must meet certain health and safety standards.
USDA Housing Repair Program:
This will help you in repairing, improving, and removing health and/or safety hazards from your home. The program allows you low-interest loans to cover the costs of these repairs.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage:
Widely known as a reverse mortgage, HECM offers eligible low-income seniors to convert a given portion of their home equity into usable income. It is greatly recommended if you don’t have a HUD benefit to make use of. You may use the loan proceeds to settle medical bills, property taxes, insurance premiums, outstanding debts, etc.
Keep in mind that as an older adult, you may be eligible for tax relief. The tax relief may apply to property or real estate taxes, vehicle license fees, and solid waste fees. Certain income caps may apply, and each state has varying laws and eligibility requirements.
You can also apply for a federal tax credit if your income falls below certain levels.
Older adults can find a host of targeted programs designed to assist with living expenses. Many of these programs are administered by your state or local government.
Do contact the relevant government offices for any clarification or you can always turn to their websites for information. It’s important to know how much money you need to live comfortably.
If your income is less than 185% of the Federal poverty level, it may be wise to know the types of low-income benefits you’re eligible for.
We hope that the information provided in this article has provided you with valuable information. Do let us know what you think in the comments below!