Every year, millions of Americans enter retirement with the hope that they’ll enjoy a life of quiet leisure thanks to their hard-earned nest eggs. However, as we age, we face new, costly challenges in nearly every facet of life, including health, housing, transportation and even our everyday routines.
Fortunately, the United States government has developed or spawned several programs that can let you and your parents afford a life of independence and dignity by receiving specialized financial assistance.
The three below might save you and your family thousands of dollars during your retirement years:
MEDICARE PART B
Medicare, as you likely know, is designed to cover health-related expenses for Americans 65 years or older; the program is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Medicare is divided up into Parts A, B, C and D for beneficiaries, each with a separate purpose.
(MORE: What Medicare Doesn’t Cover)
For example, Part A covers hospital stays and offers financial protection against catastrophic medical emergencies.
But health care costs outside of the hospital can add up to thousands of dollars over time — think medical equipment, checkups and specialized treatment programs. That’s where Medicare Part B comes in.
It covers (entirely or partially) things such as:
Medical equipment including blood sugar monitors; home oxygen equipment and supplies; hydraulic bed/wheelchair lifts; prosthetic devices; walkers; and wheelchairs/power mobility devices
Mental health counseling and therapy
Certain outpatient prescription drugs such as drugs given by a nebulizer, injectable osteoporosis drugs and blood-clotting factors
Just keep in mind that Medicare, while extensive, doesn’t cover everything. For more information, read the article that appeared on Next Avenue, “What Medicare Doesn’t Cover: A Preretiree’s Guide.”
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Roughly one in four Americans over 65 are veterans. If you or one of your parents are (or your deceased spouse or parent was), don’t miss out on potential benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For instance:
VA-improved pension — It’s worth several hundred dollars a month or more. The requirement: being honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active duty during which there was at least one day during an armed conflict. Some recipients also receive financial assistance for assisted care.
(MORE: The Many Advantages of VA Loans)
VA health care — There are no monthly premiums or deductibles and veterans can receive treatment at one of the more than 1,700 VA medical locations across the country (a system that is, of course, under renovation).
VA home loans — It can be hard for some veterans to buy a home due to the difficulties of building credit from frequent relocations. The VA Home Loan program helps with no-money-down, federally-backed mortgages. For more information, see “The Many Advantages of VA Loans.”
Survivors pension — Low-income, unremarried surviving spouses and unmarried children of a deceased veteran may be eligible for tax-free pension benefits.
AREA AGENCIES ON AGING
The nonprofit National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), established under the Older Americans Act in 1973 for Americans 60 and older, operates more than 600 local programs across the United States. The Area Agencies on Aging help with home- and community-based services and living arrangements, making it easier to age in place. Keep in mind that not all AAAs are the same and some may charge a small fee for their services.
A few examples of how Area Agencies on Aging can help:
Home-delivered and community meals Many AAAs will deliver a hot, healthy meal to people who might otherwise not be able to find or make them. Some also offer community meal events.
Legal assistance AAAs can offer legal counsel in a variety areas including long-term care and age discrimination.
Transportation You can find a list of local government-funded transportation services at the local AAA, allowing you to safely get to appointments and events.
Home maintenance If you have trouble taking care of your home and yard, an AAA may be able to help get the job done.
Steven Richmond is a freelance writer who formerly worked as a government and business reporter and as Editor-in-Chief of BadCredit.org and CardRates.com.