NCOA Campaign Urges Older Adults to Know Their Benefits

There are thousands of public and private programs available to help eligible low-income older adults pay for health care, prescriptions, food and utilities. Yet millions of eligible seniors are missing out because they don’t know about the programs or how to apply. As a result, too many make dangerous trade-offs, such as foregoing needed home repairs, avoiding social engagements, skipping meals and cutting pills.

Senior couple

For this reason, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), in partnership with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), developed a public education campaign called “You Gave, Now Save” to spread the word about this important issue.

Because Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) regularly counsels older adults about a wide array of benefits that they may be entitled to, we are participating in this campaign to help seniors throughout our community become more informed and potentially more financially secure.

According to analysis released by n4a and NCOA, seniors could increase their annual budget by 29% with available benefits: A two-person household with an income of $21,000 annually could be eligible for more than $6,000 a year in benefits, freeing up 29% of their annual budget. Without benefits, the same household could incur more than $7,500 in debt that year.

SCES offers free guidance about aging, disability and caregiver benefits through its Aging Information Center, which is available to Cambridge and Somerville residents. The center is available Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, by calling 617-628-2601.

The centerpiece of the NCOA’s campaign is the Guide to Benefits for Seniors, a comprehensive directory of the many forms of assistance available to older adults who sometimes find it difficult to pay for basic needs such as health care, food, housing and transportation.