17 Government Benefits for Senior Citizens

In the United States, senior citizens have access to a variety of government benefits designed to assist with healthcare, housing, nutrition, income support, and more. Here’s a list of 17 government benefits available to people over the age of 65.

Social Security Benefits

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According to the Social Security Administration, “The Social Security Retirement benefit is a monthly check that replaces part of your income when you reduce your hours or stop working altogether. It may not replace all your income, so it’s best to identify other ways to pay for your monthly expenses as you age.”


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Medicare is a federal health insurance program in America that serves individuals aged 65 and older. It provides coverage for hospital care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, and preventive care. There are two parts, and you may be able to receive free benefits depending on the work status of you or your spouse.


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Medicare enrollees who have limited income and resources may get help paying for their premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses from Medicaid. Medicaid also covers additional services beyond those provided under Medicare, including nursing facility care beyond the 100-day limit or skilled nursing facility care that Medicare covers, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides monthly payments to people who have limited income and few resources. SSI is for people who are 65 or older, as well as for those of any age, including children, who are blind or have disabilities.

Housing Assistance

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Forbes reports, “The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers affordable public housing apartments and single-family homes for older adults in need. Typically, these senior housing options come equipped with accessibility features such as ramps and bathroom handrails, transportation services, cleaning services, and resident activities.

Subsidized rents are usually based on 30% of your income,… meaning if you earn $1,000 a month, you would pay $300 for housing.”

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

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SNAP, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, offers valuable support to seniors in the U.S. Eligibility for SNAP benefits is determined by a combination of factors, including income level, assets, and household size. This program helps ensure that seniors have access to nourishing food to stay healthy and vibrant.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)

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The purpose of the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program is to provide fresh, nutritious, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs to low-income seniors. It aims to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding, developing, or aiding in the development and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and CSA programs.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

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The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) works to improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA foods. CSFP food packages don’t provide a complete diet but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of the beneficiary population.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

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The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. LIHEAP provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

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According to the National Council on Aging, “Created in 1965, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed people age 55+ find work. In addition to helping mature workers find job placement, SCSEP helps older adults find financial stability, ultimately leading to better health and quality of life.”

Legal Assistance for the Elderly

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The legal services network can provide important assistance for older persons in accessing long-term care options and other community-based services. Legal services also protect older persons against direct challenges to their independence, choice, and financial security. These legal services are specifically targeted at “older individuals with economic or social needs.”

Transportation Services

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In the U.S., seniors have access to various transportation options designed to meet their needs. The Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program (EDTAP) offers free or low-cost transportation services for eligible seniors and those with disabilities. Additionally, senior centers provide free transportation programs, and nonprofit organizations like the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) offer door-to-door rides. Check your public transportation programs, as some may provide free or reduced-fare rides for seniors through discounted passes or senior-specific bus routes.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

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Tax return preparation assistance is provided to elderly taxpayers during the normal period for filing federal income tax returns, which is from January 1 to April 15 each year. However, the program activities required to make sure elderly taxpayers receive efficient and quality tax assistance can be conducted year-round.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

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The state health insurance program for seniors in the U.S. is designed to provide affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage to eligible older adults. This program, often known as Medicaid or the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), offers a range of benefits, including doctor visits, hospital services, prescription medications, and preventive care. By offering financial assistance and tailored healthcare options, the state health insurance program ensures that seniors have access to the medical services they need to stay healthy.

Prescription Drug Assistance Programs

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Medicare Part D is the prescription drug coverage program offered by the federal government for individuals who qualify for Medicare. The Extra Help program, also known as the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), is a federal program that provides financial assistance to eligible seniors who have limited resources to help them pay for their Medicare prescription drug costs, including premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Seniors can apply for Extra Help through the SSA or their state’s Medicaid office.

Food Banks and Meal Programs

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Food banks and Meals on Wheels programs provide vital support and nourishment to seniors in America. Food banks distribute food such as “juice, cereal, canned foods, and refrigerated cheese” to seniors in need, while Meals on Wheels delivers hot meals directly to their homes. Some food banks also offer cooking classes, and you can check with them or your local senior center to see if there are any food pantries in the area. These programs combat hunger, promote wellness, and enhance the quality of life for seniors.

The Senior Companion Program

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The Senior Companion Program provides grants to qualified agencies and organizations for the dual purpose of engaging persons 60 and older, particularly those with limited incomes, in volunteer service to meet critical community needs and to provide a high-quality experience that will enrich the lives of the volunteers. Program funds are used to support Senior Companions in providing supportive, individualized services to help adults with special needs maintain their independence.

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