For many seniors in America, their golden years are not so golden.
Today’s economy makes it tough to prepare for retirement and face unexpected expenses, especially medical bills.
If you are or know a low-income senior that needs rental assistance, or help with healthcare, consider these options that can help relieve the financial burden.
What Is Considered Low Income for Senior Citizens?
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) defines low to moderate income for senior living.
Currently, the definition is anyone over the age of 60 that makes less than $30,000 every year, whether that money comes from a social security check, pension, retirement fund, or other sources.
The $30,000 a year mark is only for individual seniors, meaning a couple that makes $50,000 a year would also be considered low income.
Current Statistics of Low-Income Senior Citizens
The statistics concerning senior citizens that struggle financially are staggering.
Nearly half of all retired adults fear they don’t have enough money to live comfortably.
Below are some eye-opening statistics on low-income senior citizens.
The statistics come from the Congressional Research Service and the US Census Bureau.
- 40% of seniors over 60 have low to moderate-income
- 8.9% of individuals over 60 have income below the poverty thresholds
- 11.1% of individuals over 80 live in poverty
- 46% of seniors are not confident their income will be sufficient to cover their monthly expenses over the next few years (5-10)
- 32% are not convinced they have enough money to cover unexpected costs that may arise
- 41% are not convinced that they are aware of benefits and programs designed to help senior citizens in their situation
This last statistic is what this article will be discussing.
What Kind of Assistance Is Available for Low-Income Seniors?
The senior citizen living situation in America is a travesty that’s hard to swallow.
However, many seniors are unaware of government programs that have been put in place to help the aging population.
Keep reading to learn about all the benefits and programs available for low-income senior citizens.
Medical Help for Seniors With Low Income
Healthcare costs are often the most prominent financial hurdle that low-income seniors face.
Below are some programs or options to help seniors pay for medical expenses.
Medicaid is one of the best programs in place to help seniors access and afford medical care.
The Medicare savings program is different than Medicaid.
Medicare is a more complete version of health insurance that consists of three parts, A, B, and C, which cover various aspects of healthcare costs.
However, it can be expensive.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a much more affordable option.
Medicaid can help low-income seniors pay for medical visits, supportive services, medical transportation, prescription drug coverage, and more.
Non-Medicaid State Assistance
There are medical assistance options outside of Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Not everyone will qualify for those programs, so they may have to look elsewhere.
The options include ACA Marketplace plans available through your insurance provider, private insurance plans with reduced costs for senior citizens, low-cost dental plans with financial assistance for older adults, and senior discounts on vision plans.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created subsidized healthcare plans in America aimed at those with lower incomes.
There are several insurance policies and financial breaks that seniors can obtain through the ACA.
Health Insurance Options for Seniors
There are several health insurance plans and policies designed for seniors with low income.
The Affordable Care Act pioneered most of these plans.
Ask your insurance company what ACA plans they have for seniors.
Food Assistance for Seniors
The cost of food is often a significant expense for senior citizens that don’t work anymore.
Not only must they feed themselves, but seniors benefit from a nutritional diet to care for their aging bodies.
There are several programs to help low-income seniors afford and access food.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
This program, formerly called the Food Stamp Program, offers monthly allowances to individuals that need help putting food on the table.
The SNAP will give these monthly stipends to seniors in need of nutritious food as long as they have less than $3,500 in liquid assets.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
This program offers fresh and nutritious produce directly to senior citizens.
These products are available at farmers’ markets and roadside stands but can be challenging for low-income seniors to access.
So this program steps in, delivering food to aging individuals with limited mobility.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a well-known nonprofit organization that aims to deliver nutritious meals to people in need.
Meals on Wheels will provide healthy meals to senior citizens at their homes while also performing a brief safety check and offering some brief companionship.
For many, this program is the difference between independent living or having to transition into a nursing home.
Financial Grants for Seniors
For other needs that don’t fall under housing, food, or healthcare, there are grants that many low-income seniors will be eligible for.
USDA Housing Repair Program
The USDA Housing Repair Program can help seniors make their homes more accessible by adding chair lifts or wheelchair ramps to senior apartments.
Seniors may be given a grant or receive a low-interest loan that they must pay back.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The LIHEAP helps seniors pay for heating and cooling costs.
They can direct funds to attic insulation, floors, ducts, repairs, and the replacement of malfunctioning or inefficient cooling or heating systems.
LIHEAP can also send grants to utility companies to cover costs.
Section 8 Housing
Section 8 subsidized housing is a federal and state-run program that offers a housing choice voucher to eligible low-income individuals.
These housing options can help people pay for their rent as well as their utilities without having to live in unsafe or unsanitary conditions.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Seniors can purchase long-term care insurance instead of or alongside life insurance policies.
These policies account for the costs of assisted living and other senior expenses.
Most life insurance companies will offer long-term insurance plans geared toward low-income seniors.
However, the earlier you purchase one, the more benefits you will have access to and the more money you will save.
Assisted Living Options for Low-Income Senior Citizens
Below are some of the best housing options for seniors
What Is HUD Low Income Senior Housing?
HUD is the US Department of Urban Development.
They are responsible for maintaining, inspecting, and providing affordable housing for individuals in need, including low-income seniors.
How Much Do I Have to Pay for Low Income Housing?
The monthly stipend is typically 30% of your monthly income.
So whatever the difference is between that 30% and your total rent, you will be responsible for paying.
So if you make $1,000 a month and your rent is $500, you will likely receive around $300 in assistance and have a remaining balance of $200 of rent.
How Long Can Seniors Live in HUD Low Income Housing?
Seniors can stay in low-income housing indefinitely.
They just need to remain eligible because of low income, income limit, disabilities, or other factors.
Is HUD Senior Housing Available With Assisted Living Services?
Unfortunately, HUD affordable senior housing does not go hand-in-hand with other assisted living services like home care, food costs, or medical bills.
Who Is Eligible for Low Income Senior Housing?
Sadly, most senior citizens in America are eligible for low-income senior housing due to the difficulty of preparing for retirement or being forced into early retirement.
There is an age minimum and an income maximum.
You must be on the correct side of both to qualify for help from HUD.
You must be considered a senior citizen, which usually means you must be 60 or older.
Some states define seniors as 65 or older.
You must make 50% or less of the median income in your area.
So if you make $5,000 a month and the median income is $9,500, you will not be eligible.
What Is Considered Low Income for Senior Citizens?
As discussed, low income is anyone over 60 that makes less than $30,000 a year or anyone over 60 that makes 50% or less than the median income in their area.
It’s hard to place an exact figure or percentage because the cost of living changes drastically as your geography changes.
How Do I Apply for HUD Senior Housing?
First, contact your local public housing agency.
They will direct you to the correct avenues to apply and what documentation you’ll need to be approved.
Application Process and Materials
You’ll need to complete the low-income housing application with accurate information.
With this application, you’ll need to submit documentation that proves your income and household size.
What Do I Do If I Am Placed on a Senior Housing Waiting List?
Make sure you check the HUD portal to see where you are in the process so you can respond to them as quickly as possible if they contact you.
If you are homeless, in unsafe conditions, in unsanitary conditions, disabled, or makeup under 30% of your area’s median income, make sure you disclose this as it will move you up the waitlist.
If you or someone you know could benefit from one of these assistance programs, don’t hesitate to share this with them.
They deserve to live a more comfortable and happier life in their golden years.