According to a report released by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), millions of low-income older adults are missing out on over $20 billion in free and low-cost support that could help pay for health care, prescriptions, food, and utilities. The main reason why seniors are not taking advantage of these resources? They simply don’t know the money is there for them.
In response to this disconnect, the NCOA and n4a have launched a campaign, “You Gave, Now Save,” to help connect available funding to those who need it the most.
“It is no secret that millions and millions of Americans are struggling right now, but help is just a phone call away,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of n4a, in a news release. “The aging network is coming together to do everything we can to communicate with older adults and caregivers who demand these services, and let them know that support is available. This campaign is about connecting those in need with the support that is right at their fingertips.”
Medicare Part D Extra Help counts for $6.8 billion in unused benefits
According to the NCOA, the $20 billion is based on estimates of the collective population eligible for benefits but not receiving them. One of these benefits is Part D Extra Help, which helps Medicare beneficiaries pay for their prescription drug costs. According to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 1.7 million eligible people are not taking advantage of Extra Help, which has an annual average value of $4,000.
For more information about Extra Help, please see my October 8, 2011 post. You can also click here, contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
You Gave, Now Save connects seniors with benefits
The You Gave, Now Save campaign directs seniors to two great resources that can help you connect with potential support:
• NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp is a free online screening tool that has more than 2,000 public and private programs for low-income people with Medicare.
• The Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116), a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, connects older adults and their families to local agencies and organizations that can assist them with applying for support from a variety of programs. Some of these programs include home heating and cooling assistance as well as free or discounted services from state and local governments and the private sector that provide tax breaks, legal assistance, and in-home assistance. You can go online or reach them at 1-800-677-1116, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.