Millions of eligible seniors are missing out on public and private programs available to help eligible low-income older adults pay for health care, prescriptions, food and utilities 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.
For this reason, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), in partnership with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), developed a public education campaign called You Gave, Now Save to spread the word about this important issue. The centerpiece of the campaign is the Guide to Benefits for Seniors, a comprehensive directory of the many forms of assistance available to older adults who sometimes find it difficult to pay for basic needs such as health care, food, housing and transportation.
According to analysis released by n4a and NCOA, seniors could increase their annual budget by 29% with available benefits: 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.
The Area Agency on Aging plays a vital role by offering in-person counseling to not only help older adults understand their benefits, but also to encourage them to use them.