Social Security Benefits and Other Helpful Resources for Seniors

Social Security Benefits and Other Helpful Resources for Seniors

For many seniors, the “Golden Years” is just a mirage. In their working lives, the idea of retiring, living comfortably and enjoying themselves always appeared on the horizon like an oasis in the desert. Once they got there, however, they found only struggle. Inflation, low-wage jobs, health issues, improper planning, the recent financial crisis, and dozens of other reasons now find them just scratching by rather than savoring this time comfortably. SSI and SSDI are two programs under the Social Security Administration that help to supplement the incomes of low-income seniors and qualifying workers with disabilities.

Supplemental Security Income:

SSI is a Federal program administered by the Social Security Administration. The goal of the program is to provide a small cash benefit to eligible aged, blind or disabled people who have very low income and resources. It falls under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Unlike SSDI, these benefits are paid out of general revenues, not the Social Security trust fund. The benefit amount for SSI is set by Congress, and states may add a supplemental amount. Unlike SSDI, SSI is “needs-based.” To be eligible for SSI, an individual must meet the income and assets requirements of the program.

In most states, people who receive SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits and the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy.

Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI):

SSDI functions like an insurance plan for workers. It falls under Title II of the Social Security Act. These benefits are available to individuals who have paid Social Security taxes over a sufficiently long period but can no longer work due to the development of a life-threatening disability or medical condition. Their benefits amount is based on the worker’s earnings record. These benefits are available regardless of the person’s income or assets. It is possible for an individual to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits if the SSDI benefits are low enough that the person is still eligible for SSI.

Many other programs are also available to assist adults as they age, including those with financial need or severe medical conditions. Additionally, special types of housing developments can help seniors to live more comfortably as they socialize with other adults of their age. To learn more about receiving Social Security Income as a senior and to explore several other types of benefits for aging adults, review the information below.

SSI Benefits for Needy Seniors:

The Supplemental Security Income program provides monthly payments to qualifying low-income children and adults with disabilities, as well as to needy seniors without disabilities.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided to those needy seniors that have extremely limited income and assets. The program evaluates one’s income and fills in the gap to bring their income up to a pre-set amount determined and revised annually by the federal government. Therefore, the benefit amount that an individual receives is dependent on their income. For non-disabled seniors to obtain these benefits, however, they must be at least 65 years of age and meet financial limits in the state where they reside.

While this alone cannot cover the cost of home care or assisted living, there is no time limit on receiving assistance. One can continue to receive help for as long as they are financially eligible. In addition, most states offer a supplement to the federal SSI payments called: State Supplementary Payments or Optional State Supplements , which increases one’s total SSI payment. The amounts and eligibility requirements of SSP / OSS differ in each state.

Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on an individual or their family member’s prior work history. As seniors receive payments directly from the government, they or their loved ones are free to apply those dollars towards any need they have, including home care, adult day care, assisted living or home modifications to enable aging in place.

While certain adults with disabilities can file for these benefits online, senior applicants must contact the SSA by telephone, or they may visit their local Social Security office to apply in person. When applying, claimants typically need to provide their Social Security card, birth certificate and proof of their income and assets.

SSDI Payments for Seniors with Disabilities:

This Social Security Disability Insurance program pays monthly benefits to qualifying seniors with disabilities who can no longer work and earn a living after the development of a disabling medical condition. To receive benefits under this program, however, seniors must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for long enough, depending on their age during the time at which they became disabled.

Additionally, all Social Security Disability applicants must meet two earnings requirements, including:

Recent work test: In order to qualify for disability benefits anyone with 31 years of age or above would have to bear at least five years of recent work experience.

Duration of work test: To pass the duration of work test, seniors typically need:

  • Seven years work if they became disabled at 50 years of age.
  • Eight years work if they became disabled at 54 years of age.
  • 9-and-a-half years work if they became disabled at 60 years of age.

Medicare Facilitation To Seniors:

Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It primarily provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, but also for some younger people with disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The program helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care. Seniors have choices for how they get Medicare coverage. If they choose to have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage, they can buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy from a private insurance company.

Parts of Medicare:

Social Security enrolls disable persons in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance): It helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or limited time at a skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay). Part A also pays for some home health care and hospice care.

Medicare Part B (medical insurance): It helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.

Other parts of Medicare are run by private insurance companies that follow rules set by Medicare.

Supplemental (Medigap) policies: help pay Medicare out-of-pocket copayment, coinsurance, and deductible expenses.

Medicare Advantage Plan (previously known as Part C): includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B — prescription drugs and additional benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental — bundled together in one plan.

Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage): helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.

Most beneficiaries of the Original Medicare program choose to enroll in Parts A and B, while others may choose to delay their enrollment in Medicare Part B for various reasons. As an alternative to Original Medicare, Advantage plans (Part C) typically include all three coverages, including hospital, medical and prescription drug insurance.

Senior Living Options:

SSI also provides the assistance to Senior and mostly retired Citizens in availing best hosing opportunities depending upon their needs and affordability.

Senior apartments assisted living facilities and nursing homes are three different housing options for adults who do not wish to stay in their current home as they age. Generally, independent living facilities are ideal for adults who are at least 55 years of age but require little to no assistance in performing their daily tasks, while assisted living facilities are best for seniors who can perform most tasks on their own but may need assistance in cooking meals or caring for themselves. Nursing homes, however, are best for those who require a greater deal of medical care.

Independent Living:

This type of community might be right for active adults if they are able to take care of themselves but want someone else to do the cooking and cleaning. They typically offer meal plans as well as services like laundry, transportation to shopping areas or doctors’ appointments, and housekeeping. Most have social activities for residents and schedule outings to local events.

Assisted Living or Residential Care:

Seniors who need a little more help with personal care but are still active and generally healthy may find one of these a good fit. Assisted living and residential care facilities offer the same social events, housekeeping, or meal services as independent living, but they also have staff on hand to keep track of their medicines and offer help when they need it.

Nursing Home:

Skilled nurses are on site around the clock to help with medical care, supervised by a doctor. Nursing assistants help residents bathe, dress, walk, or eat their meals. Therapists can also help seniors who have physical or speech problems.

Moreover, low-income senior housing is also available to those who meet financial needs. To find low income senior apartments for rent, they may use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s online Resource Locator. To use the Resource Locator, select the option for “Find Affordable Elderly and Special Needs Housing” to search for affordable properties in their area. In addition to HUD-sponsored senior housing, some communities have created their own senior residences funded locally. The best way to learn about these housing options is to contact your local Area Agencies on Aging.

State and Local Programs:

In addition to the above, many health-related programs exist at the state and local level. These programs are often funded through the Department of Health and Human Services. Though some programs exist through local funding.

To assist seniors in paying for their home energy bills, they may qualify for benefits under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), if they meet income restrictions for the state in which they live they get the assistance.

To avail emergency housing assistance, state’s LIHEAP office provides their services, such as: Department of Health and Social Services or Department of Human Services.

Senior Life Insurance

1. Term insurance policy:

One type of life insurance for seniors is a “term” insurance policy that covers the cost of the funeral, especially if the existing policy will not cover these additional expenses.

Life insurance is the best choice if its main purpose is to help dependents and other beneficiaries pay for final expenses, bills and have money left to live on remaining. This option is passed on tax-free to your beneficiaries.

Since the average cost of a funeral ranges between $8,000 and $10,000, you may choose a maximum benefit amount of $10,000, unless you wish to cover additional expenses after you pass away. After your death, your beneficiary would receive the total death benefit to cover the cost of your funeral.

2. Annuity:

In addition to a senior term life insurance policy, an annuity contract is another popular option for aging adults, as annuities provide the policyholder and beneficiary with greater flexibility. While policyholders will need to pay annuity premiums, they can choose to pay them in one lump-sum or in monthly installments.

Both plans do provide death benefits, but each is a very different option for different purposes. If you need guidance in deciding if a life insurance plan or annuity is right for you, consult a life insurance or annuity planning consultant to discuss all the options.

3. Burial Insurance for Seniors

Another type of senior life insurance policy is known as a burial or preneed insurance, Burial insurance is a type of life insurance used to pay for funeral services and merchandise costs after a death. The policy can be bought online or by telephone without waiting for an insurance-company doctor exam. In fact, burial insurance does not require a medical exam at all. Applicants are asked about age, smoking history and whether they have serious conditions. For some policies, acceptance is guaranteed. Others require a two-year premium-paying period before collection is possible and only provide coverage to 100 years of age.

Moreover, another type of policy is known as final expense insurance. Final expense insurance is a whole life insurance policy that has a small death benefit and is easier to get approved for.

Final expense insurance is also called “funeral insurance,” “burial insurance,” “simplified issue whole life insurance,” or “modified whole life insurance” as final expense insurance covers funeral and burial costs, the beneficiaries of your choice can also use your policy benefits to cover any remaining expenses and outstanding debts. Unlike a preneed or prepaid burial insurance policy, these benefits are not paid directly to the funeral home.