Senior Financial Help

There are several programs that can provide senior financial help. These vary in availability according to age and other factors, and benefit formulations can be quite complex, so it is recommended that you or an interested senior do further research on one of the below programs if they feel it may meet their needs.

Social Security Old Age Pensions

This is the oldest social welfare program in the United States, begun back in the 1930s by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Unlike some programs, you must have paid into it in order to be eligible for benefits. The current requirement, which has been in effect for many years, is that you have 40 quarters of work on your record.

This work must have been in a job that paid into the Social Security system; teaching, for examples, is exempt in many states. 40 quarters equals 10 years of work, but if you worked a little bit each year for 40 years, you will have 40  quarters; the quarters do not have to be contiguous. Since this is a government program, words don’t always mean what they would usually suggest. A “quarter” in this case is not ¼ of a calendar year; it is a sum of money you have earned. Currently, you must earn about $1100 in a year to qualify for one “quarter.”

This number scales with inflation. So, for a senior seeking financial help, you cannot earn more than 4 “quarters” in any single calendar year.  People can begin receiving Social Security benefits when they are 67 and these will continue until death. They must be paid directly into a bank account; paper checks in this regard have become a thing of the past.

Medicare and Prescription Drug Coverage Assistance

Another program for senior financial help is Medicare, which was recently expanded to cover prescription drugs as well.  Most of us know that Medicare uses very complex formulas and consists of both a Part A and a Part B, which cover different items; in addition, seniors now must elect a prescription drug coverage from one of the many companies that work with the government to offer this benefit to seniors.

Unlike Social Security, the benefit level received under Medicare does not depend on the total amount of money paid in, though you must have enough quarters to qualify. Currently you must have earned 12 quarters over your lifetime in order to be eligible for Medicare when you retire.

Senior Citizen Discounts

Most retail establishments that sell food and drink have some kind of discount program for seniors.  Usually this takes the form of a “senior menu” which is a short offering of specials that provides a smaller meal more suited to the caloric requirements of the senior citizen.  Movie theatres will also often offer senior discount tickets, generally available to those aged 65 and older.

Grants for Senior Citizens

In most cases, individuals who are having making ends meet must use family based or private resources to solve their problems. While the U.S. government does provide many grants to help people with activities like starting a business or going to college, free money in order to repay debt or meet normal living expenses is almost non-existent.

Grants are very different from loan based assistance because they do not have to be paid back. They can therefore be regarded as “free” money.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 25, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

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