Helping Seniors Connect to Benefits
Online Tool Links Users to 2,000 Local, State and Federal Programs
Many older people need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities and other basic needs, but don't know about programs that could help them. Millions of older Americans are eligible for benefits ranging from heating and energy assistance to prescription savings programs to income supplements.
BenefitsCheckUp, developed by the National Council on Aging, is the nation's most comprehensive online service that identifies benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources. It includes more than 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that cover needs such as prescription drugs, Medicare Extra Help, nutrition and food stamps, energy assistance, health care, housing and tax relief and others.
Applicants are guided through an online questionnaire to determine their eligibility for benefits. The information you will need about yourself or about the person you are helping includes:
- ZIP code;
- Date of birth for self and spouse;
- Type of residence (house, apartment or mobile home);
- Length of time in current residence;
- Veteran status for self and spouse;
- Employment history for self and spouse, specifically, whether or not the person ever worked for the state, local, county or federal government or the railroads;
- Names of prescription medications;
- Current income and assets from all sources for self, spouse and others in the household; and
- Estimates of current expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, out-of-pocket medical bills, expenses for caring for someone at home while the person works or goes to school, etc.
BenefitsCheckUp will return a list of programs for which the applicant may qualify and provide contact information to learn more. Downloadable enrollment forms are provided, where applicable. Information also is available in Spanish.
As of 2010, BenefitsCheckUp has helped more than two million people find more than $8 billion worth of the annual benefits for which they are eligible.
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Research & Resources
Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions
Compassionate allowances quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration recently added 38 new conditions to its list, ranging from adult brain disorders to rare diseases that primarily affect children, speeding benefits to thousands of Americans with disabilities.
Reports Examine Civic Engagement by Older Americans
Connecting and Giving: A Report on How Mid-life and Older Americans Spend Their Time, Make Connections and Build Communities, from AARP, examines the extent and nature of the community involvement and civic participation of older Americans and found that while mid-life and older Americans are less likely to join organizations, informal volunteering has significantly increased since 2003. Another AARP report, The Employment Situation, December 2009 finds that the unemployment rate for those age 55 and over rose to 7.2 percent in December from 7.1 percent in November. Almost half of older unemployed persons were among the long-term unemployed and had been out of work for 27 or more weeks.