Aging, Guest Bloggers, Medicare, Retirement

How Connecting to Benefits Programs Can Save You Money 

May 16, 2024 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: May 17, 2024

A photo of Ramsey AlwinThe cost of aging in America is on the rise. Social Security provides retirees with a stable income. Unfortunately, it’s not always enough to cover the costs of health care, food, housing, and utilities. When the cost of living rises faster than your income, it can be difficult to make ends meet in retirement. 

A rise in the cost of living can cause financial strain and hardship. The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows that poverty increased among adults aged 65 and older from 10.7% in 2021 to 14.1% in 2022.  

The good news is there are public and private benefits programs that can help older adults afford daily expenses. The bad news is that millions of eligible people are missing out on this help.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that eligible older adults leave $30 billion in benefits on the table every year because they don’t know about these programs or how to apply. 

These are a few of the biggest missed benefits:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income individuals afford groceries. The average monthly SNAP benefit for an older adult living alone in 2020 was $105 per month, but nearly half of those who qualify for the program do not enroll. That’s an estimated 5 million people who are missing out on food assistance, amounting to $6.3 billion each year. To learn more about applying for SNAP, visit Social Security’s blog. 
  • The Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS, or Extra Help) lowers out-of-pocket costs for medications. Social Security estimates the annual value of Extra Help at $5,300 per recipient. NCOA’s research found roughly 2 million people who are eligible for this program don’t sign up. This result is $10.6 billion yearly in missed benefits. Please see Social Security’s publication, Understanding the Extra Help with Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, for more information. 
  • Medicare Savings Programs pay for a person’s monthly Part B premium ($174.70 per month in 2024). NCOA estimates that as many as 2 to 3 million people are missing out on this assistance, totaling up to $5.94 billion in forfeited benefits. 

There is a safe and trusted way to find out if you may be eligible for these or other benefits programs. It’s called BenefitsCheckUp®. NCOA offers this free, easy-to-use tool that features more than 2,000 public and private benefits programs available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Visitors enter confidential information while remaining anonymous. They instantly get a report of programs they may be eligible for—plus next steps on how to apply. 

NCOA believes every American deserves to age with financial security. BenefitsCheckUp® is one simple step you can take to age well. Start your checkup today! 

Please share this information with those who may need it. 

Our posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages. 


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  1. Tuan H.

    apply for ssa benefit..

  2. Dovie

    The comment about $14,040 being poverty level. I don’t even get $12,000 per yr. And $103 snap benefits. Now that’s poverty. Utilities and all takes my whole check every month!!! $ 973 monthly.

  3. Susan J.

    If the average SNAP benefit was $105 per 2020, why is it so much lower now? I know there are a lot of residents in our low income unit,all 64 and over. Their SNAP benefits for each resident is $23. a month.
    How sad.

  4. Walt

    Per the NCOAs IRS Form 990 Report of the fiscal Year ending 06/30/2022, Ms. Alwin was paid $372,475 in compensation…..

  5. Dennis M.

    This is distrubing Fourteen percent means one in 7 seniors was in poverty in 2022. The poverty level for seniors 65 and over in 2022 was $14,040. That level is too low, it is likely that a much greater percentage of our seniors experience poverty. This is sad.

    On a different note, the credibility of this article is not helped by the fact that the link to the US Census Bureau Report, supposedly included to substaniate this blog, sends the reader to a 2021 report, with 2020-21 summary, not the 2022 data summary.

    But, what that link does reveal is that poverty amongst seniors increased from 8.9% to 10.3% in 2020-2021 (a 16% increase in senior poverty. So if the 2022 poverty rate is, as the headline here indicates, 14.1% then senior poverty increased 2021-2022 by 37%, and 2020 to 2022, senior poverty has increased by 58%. This is alarming.

    I would not be suprised to learn that today, one in five, or more, seniors lives in poverty.

    Remember these facts when you see our senior citizens in the grocery stores, at the gas station, in the park, at church, wherever. You could very well join the poverty ranks yourself someday.

    • Jesse G.

      Thank you

  6. MajJohn

    20 years ago there were 49 million citizens receiving benefits from SSA, now it’s 71 million. The article talks about food stamps, Medicaid paying the medicare premium, and prescription drug plans. The estimated # of people that could be helped is a shot in the dark. We’ve had outreach programs for decades and still the # of people living in poverty has skyrocketed as inflation eats away at the $$ that is available to meet basic needs. We continue to talk a good game but nothing ever changes except the poorest among us get poorer and dependent on handouts. Some view this as buying your vote, I call it dispicable.

    • Nita

      It is really hard, specifically when I lost my medicade help after covid emergency I made 20 dollars to much now my co-pay is so high for my procedures I can’t get my medical care.

  7. George S.

    Premium increases negate SSA COLAs.


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