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Public Benefits That Can Help

Older adults can have a hard time paying for basic necessities. There are federal and state programs that fill this need.

Older adults can have a hard time paying for basic necessities such as health care and food. There are a variety of federal and state programs that fill this need. Learn how to help your loved ones apply for benefits.

Identify Benefits Being Used

Find out what public benefits your loved one is already receiving and what other types they may qualify for. Make a list of these benefits and add to it as needed so there's always an up-to-date record. These can include:

  • Social Security.

  • Veteran’s Benefits.

  • Medicaid.

Find Out What's Available

Use AARP's Benefits QuickLINK to determine what programs your loved one qualifies for as well as to learn about other programs unique to his or her state. Helpful hint: Gather information about your loved one's resources before going online. After completing the Benefits QuickLINK survey, print out fact sheets, applications and websites for public benefits programs in your loved one's home state. If they qualify for a program, find out if they want to apply and help them do so.

Apply for Appropriate Programs

Gather proof of your loved one's monthly income and other resources. Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can provide guidance if more in-depth help is needed during the application process. Find the relevant SHIP program by visiting Note: The program name may be different in your state.

Take Care of the Details

Look over your loved one's documents for important notices about changes in their public benefits (these notices can be difficult to understand). Public programs may require recipients to show each year that they still qualify for the program. And if they're not already, keep these papers organized in an easy-to-find location.

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