Question: Is there a one-stop shop to find out what benefits my parents can get?
Answer: For many benefits, age sixty-five is the magic number for eligibility, but you should be aware that some benefits can be secured as early as age sixty. Here are two major resources to navigate your search for benefits.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers a helpful screening service that will help you find and enroll in federal, state, local and private programs that help pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care and other needs. Go to www.benefitscheckup.org and fill out their questionnaire that only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. You’ll enter basic information on your parent, including income, all of which remains confidential. Once you’ve entered the data, the “Benefits Checkup” will search thousands of benefits against your parent’s information. WIthin seconds, you’ll receive an “Eligibility Report” that will identify potential benefits for which your parents may be eligible. The report will include all of the information that you will need to to contact the local agency to determine whether of not your parent actually qualifies. You will be given local names, addresses and 800 numbers, along with application forms that you simply download and send in to the appropriate agency. This resource is a great timesaver, so if you don’t have internet access, it’s worth a trip to the library to get online.
The NCOA website also allows you to apply for Medicare’s “Extra Help Prescription Drug Coverage” for people with lower incomes who qualify for Medicare Part D co-payments. And, if your parnets can;t afford to keep good food on the table, they can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Benefits Checkup website is especially helpful if you live in a different state than your parents, as it searches thousands of programs by state and gives you local numbers to contact.
Finally, the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is another valuable resource for advice on that services are available and if your parents qualify. You can find your parents’ local AAA by calling the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.