Seniors with low incomes often are eligible for several local, state and federal services. These include help with food, health care, transportation and basic living costs. Most federal programs are administered at the state and local level. Thus, the way to get help is to contact the nearest agency in charge of the services you need.
Social Security Benefits
One of the first places to look for financial help is Social Security. Seniors who paid in Social Security taxes from past employment automatically are eligible for benefits once they reach retirement age. To find your local office, search by ZIP code on the official website of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or call 1-800-772-1213.
Supplemental Monthly Income
For seniors with little to no income, the federal Supplemental Security Income program is an option. SSI is directed at seniors and the disabled, and provides regular income to pay for necessities such as food and housing. Check with your local Social Security office to see if you are eligible or visit the Social Security Administration website for more information.
Health Care Costs
Low-income seniors who need help with health care costs may be eligible for Medicaid in addition to Medicare. This program will help pay Medicare premiums and costs that Medicare ordinarily does not cover. The program sets both monthly income and overall asset limits that beneficiaries must not exceed to be eligible. For more information on Medicaid, search the federal Medicaid website to be directed to an office in your area.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, managed locally through state agencies, provides financial help with food costs. This program is for low-income individuals and families. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service website to find your local SNAP office, or call its national help line at 1-800-221-5689.
Many communities offer transportation services to low-income senior citizens at little or no cost. Help getting to doctors' appointments, grocery stores, the bank and other errands are common. Generally, wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available for those who need this type of transport.
Seniors with low incomes can receive help paying winter heating and summer cooling bills. The federal government provides grants to state agencies for distribution. Income limits vary by state. For more information, contact your Area Agency on Aging.
The U.S. Administration on Aging maintains a website called Eldercare Locator that provides visitors with an online tool to search for services by ZIP code, city and state, or type of service. Categories of services include financial assistance, food, health insurance, home repairs, housing, in-home help, legal assistance and transportation, among others. This website then refers visitors to local agencies that either provide or supervise the needed services.