Americans over the age of 60 can take advantage of many benefits that can help them maintain a decent quality before and after retirement. Some benefits are automatically offered when an individual reaches a target age, but others are available only to those who meet income-eligibility criteria.
Seniors who have accrued enough credits in their working lives to be eligible for Social Security benefits can opt to receive the monthly check starting at age 62. The benefit amount increases, though, the longer the individual waits to claim them. Those who wait until age 70 to claim their benefits receive 32 percent more than those who opted in at 62.
Medical insurance in the form of Medicare is available to those who have reached their 65th birthday. Medicare covers most medical expenses and eliminates the high monthly premiums of private insurance coverage. Recipients may purchase supplemental health insurance called Medigap from a major provider or the federal government to cover the difference between what Medicare covers and what medical care actually costs.
The United States Department of Education's Division of Adult Education and Literacy provides seniors with training in everything from basic language and math skills to computer literacy. The classes are typically aimed at those who wish to prepare for a new career, re-enter the work force or just update their skill set. The programs are funded by the federal government and are provided free of charge to those 60 and older.
Government-affiliated agencies like Amtrak extend discounts to seniors 60 and older on trips between the United States and Canada. For trips within the U.S., discounts are available to those 62 and older. Seniors 62 and older are also eligible for senior passes that reduce the cost of campsites, guide tours and concessions on federal lands and parks.
Low Income Seniors
Seniors with sufficiently low incomes can get assistance buying food through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, paying for telephone service through Link Up or Lifeline and even covering home utility bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. At the time of publication, fewer than one-third of all eligible seniors had enrolled for SNAP assistance even though the average benefit for those 60 and older is $106 per month.
- Adminstration of Aging: The Senior Disconnect -- Millions are Losing Billions in Benefits
- American Association of Retired Persons: Your Guide to Public Benefits
- US News Money: What Older Workers Don't Know About Social Security
- U.S. Dept of Education: Adult Education and Literacy
- Food Research and Action Center: Seniors and SNAP/Food Stamps
- Amtrak: Passenger Discount for Seniors
- United States Department of the Interior: Senior Pass Benefits
- Medicare: What Medicare Covers