Benefits for seniors |

Benefits for seniors

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports
MUG--Miller, JIm

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’ve been trying to find out about several different programs for my mom that might provide her some financial assistance. Right now she lives only on her Social Security survivors benefits from dad and struggles every month to get by. She especially needs help with her prescription medication. I’ve heard about several programs that mom might qualify for but don’tknow where to start. Can you help me?

Drowning Daughter

Dear Drowning,

I’ve got just the solution for you. It’s called BenefitsCheckUp! A free online service developed by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) that helps seniors, ages 55 and over, identify most state and federal assistance programs that can help improve their quality of life. All you need to do is get to the Internet and type in ( Once you get there, you’ll need to fill out a simple, questionnaire that takes about 15 minutes to complete, and within minutes, you’ll get a report detailing all programs and services for which you qualify.


A confidential service, BenefitsCheckUp contains over 1,150 different programs from all 50 states. Programs listed include those that provide seniors with financial assistance and legal services, health care, home energy and housing assistance, in-home services, educational opportunities, employment programs and volunteer opportunities. BenefitsCheckUp also offers a prescription drug discount search that contains over 260 prescription assistance programs that may be able to help you save money on 1,450 brand name and generic medications.

In addition to identifying the different programs that a person may be eligible to receive, BenefitsCheckUp also provides a detailed description of the programs, local contacts for additional information and materials to help successfully apply for each program. This is a tremendous service!

Savvy Fact: Nearly one million people have turned to BenefitsCheckUp to find out about programs and save money.

Help Is Out There

You’ll be amazed at the wide array of programs that are out there, but according to the NCOA, millions of seniors are eligible for public benefits but are not receiving them, either because they don’t know about them or don’t know how to apply for them. In fact, NCOA studies show that:

One-fourth of all people screened by BenefitsCheckUp were eligible for, but not receiving, Food Stamps.

Forty percent were eligible for home weatherization programs.

Seventeen percent were eligible for Medicaid.

Necessary Information

Having the necessary information at your fingertips makes completing the BenefitsCheckUp questions easier. Here’s a list to refer to when gathering your personal information:

— State and ZIP code

— Date of birth for self and spouse

— Type of residence (house, apartment, or mobile home)

— Length of time in current residence

— Employment history (whether or not the person ever worked for the state, local, county, or federal government or the railroads) for self and spouse

— Veteran status for self and spouse

— Names of prescription medications you are taking (it’s recommend that you have available the prescription bottles or information about your medications from your health professional)

— Current income and assets from all sources for self, spouse and others in the household

— Estimates of current expenses (such as mortgage or rent, utilities, out-of-pocket medical bills, expenses for caring for someone at home)

Available Online Only

BenefitsCheckUp is only available online. If you don’t have a computer or access to the Internet, ask a family member or trusted friend to help you or go to a local library or senior center for assistance.

– Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070 or visit Jim Miller is a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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