Personal Finance Retirement

Financial Assistance Resources For The Elderly

Written by Hank Coleman

There are quite a lot of resources for the elderly and their families looking for help and information on programs. Below is a list of many of the most popular assistance programs for the elderly. These programs cover a wide range of topics from housing, income, financial assistance, medical care, legal advice, and more. Additionally, there are resources and programs to help the elderly with hunger, isolation, and abuse.

The AARP Foundation is a great resource to find more information about additional programs for the elderly. The AARP Foundation works with organizations throughout local and state communities as well as from across the nation to ensure senior citizens can find the resources they need. Additionally, each state has separate programs and resources for its elderly citizens. has an excellent directory with links to each state’s department or division that handles senior citizens and elderly programs. 

Help with Your Home

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists the elderly and low-income families to keep their energy costs low. LIHEAP is a federally funded assistance program that can help manage and reduce the costs home energy bills, weatherizing your home, and recommend minor home repairs to save energy.

The government designed this program especially for those with low income. To be eligible to apply for LIHEAP, your income must be between 110 to 150% of the poverty level. The Federal government and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set the poverty levels through guidelines. There are also a few exceptions to these criteria, and you should check with your individual state for eligibility.

The state where you reside may call the LIHEAP program by a different name. You can find your state’s name for LIHEAP on AARP’s benefits check up page.

Applying varies by location. You should contact your state’s Division for Aging or similar commission for more details. You can also contact HHS’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for more details and to learn how to apply.

Telephone Assistance

Most telephone companies, both landline and cellular services, offer programs to help the elderly and low-income earners defray the cost of basic local telephone services.

You can qualify for many of these programs automatically if you are currently enrolled in Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Housing Assistance/Section 8 Programs, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs, and others.

How to apply: You should call your local telephone company or cellphone carrier for more details. Many of the phone companies also call these programs Link Up or Lifeline. So, be sure to ask about Link Up, Lifeline, or other low-income programs when you call.

Help Buying Food

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The federal government used to call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) simply food stamps. But, SNAP now provides financial assistance to millions of low-income and elderly Americans across the country. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works with states and other organizations to provide nutrition assistance benefits to citizens.

To receive SNAP benefits, families and individuals must meet certain eligibility test. The test criteria range from household income, assets, employer, and other criteria. There are also special rules for the elderly over 60 years old or disabled. For more information and specifics on eligibility requirements, you should check the Food and Nutrition Service’s website.

To apply for SNAP, you must complete an online application and also visit your local State or County office for the FNS.

Home Delivered Meals

Many states and local communities have food programs, such as Meals on Wheels, which deliver food to your home every day. These programs are for the elderly and those who are disabled or homebound. Most charities do not require payment for the meals, but they often accept donations. While there are different eligibility requirements for each program, most require recipients to be shut-in, homebound due to a disability, and typically over the age of 60.

Home delivered or congregate meals vary by state and local location. There are no national organizations that run a nation-wide program. You should look for charities and programs in your area for home-delivered meals to the elderly and homebound.

Other Services

Legal Aid

Each state’s Department of Aging Services or similar government agency on aging have a legal assistance program for seniors. Governments typically administered at the state or local level. For example, the state of Georgia’s program is called the Elderly Legal Assistance Program (ELAP).

These programs typically offer attorneys who can answer legal questions from the elderly and provide legal advice at a reduced rate or pro bono. They can also prepare and review legal documents or represent elderly citizens in non-criminal court proceedings.

Applying for free or reduced rate legal services varies by location. You should contact your state’s Division for Aging or similar agency for more details. The agency, like in Georgia’s case, will refer you to a local or regional agency to coordinate the assistance.

Senior Companion and Friendly Visitor Programs

Many local charitable and faith-based organizations offer programs to senior citizens with companion and visitor services. These programs allow for the elderly to have social interactions with a volunteer who visits the senior. Often, these programs specialize in visits and companionship after a hospitalization of a senior.

Depending on the organization and its program, volunteers may also escort seniors away from their homes for recreational activities or help with chores around their home. These volunteers play an important role in preventing isolation for the elderly and can watch for warning signs of a developing or worsening health condition for the senior citizen.

The best way to find charitable and faith-based organizations in your location that offer these services is an online search through a search engine such as Google.

There are a lot of resources for the elderly and their families that need help and information on financial assistance programs for the elderly. Each state typically runs their programs for the elderly that cover a wide range of topics from housing, income, financial assistance, medical care, legal advice, and others. These programs are extremely location dependent, and for the best results, you should research programs in your specific location.

The information listed here is current as of April 28th, 2017. But, these programs are constantly changing. You should follow the links provided to find out about current eligibility, income guidelines, and contact information for these programs.

About the author

Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the publisher or the popular personal finance blog, Money Q&A. He’s also a freelance journalist specializing in retirement planning, investing, and personal finance. You can also find him on Twitter @MoneyQandA.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment