Seniors Missing Out on Billions in Benefits


A good portion of seniors and their caregivers could use some help paying for food, heating, health care, and other life essentials, but many have little—if any—knowledge of how much financial aid they can actually get. And, in this case, what you don't know may be costing you.

A report, just-released by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), has revealed that older Americans are missing out on over $20 billion in potential benefits.

Data for the report was gathered using the National Council on Aging's online BenefitsCheckUp widget and the U.S. Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator service.

In total, 71% of seniors using the BenefitsCheckUp—a tool that analyzes a senior's financial situation and tells them what benefits they qualify for—were not taking advantage of all the of their potential benefits. These benefits included participation in a variety of programs, including: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Medicare/Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income.

And, just because older adults aren't using these resources doesn't mean they don't need assistance.

Information collected from people using the Eldercare Locator service—a telephone hotline and website combination that provides information on senior services—indicated that 27% of inquiries were made by older adults seeking help finding financial assistance.

If over a quarter of seniors and their caregivers need financial help, why are so many not using all of the resources available to them?

According to the study results, lack of eligibility knowledge and fear of overly complicated application processes dominated the list of reasons cited by older adults who weren't using these programs.

Even if a senior is taking advantage of some benefits, they may not be aware that they are eligible to receive additional assistance.

In response to these startling statistics, the NCOA and n4a, along with the U.S. Administration on Aging, have initiated a program to help make sure seniors are aware of all of their potential benefits. The "You Gave, Now Save" initiative encourages older adults to use resources like the BenefitsCheckUp site and Eldercare Locator tools to learn more about their opportunities for financial aid.

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Could the reason elders are missing out possibly be because jumping through all the hoops is more initially costly than they (or their caregivers) can afford and the time limits for filing and amassing the paperwork evidence is so short. Why yes, that's probably it. The only people who can get these benefits seems to be those who can afford the lawyer to help them get the benefits.

Hello, This is Ray who is caught in the middle of a relationship and a home care type life style. I live with my girl friend and her sister, who had a stroke some one and a half years ago. My girl friend has had knee surgery in July of last year. Her sister had a mild type stroke that has left her with a bit of a walking problem. She can walk but is not very stabled and her speech is getting a bit more harder to understand. Plus I'm out of work. Since my girl cannot attempt to really take care of her sister due to her situation being disabled her self she took her into her home instead of placing her in a home. I believe my girl was against placing her sister in a home period! When I'm not looking for work I'm at home doing everything that's necessary to do to keep the peace within. No matter how much I do around this home my girl is always pissed off or bad mouthing me, showing no appreciation what so ever! I do the wash, cooking, construction, yard work, drying and all around cleaning of this home, with very little appreciation. I try to express to my girl that she has thought with her heart instead of her head by being the better of the sister and raising her hand up first to take on the responsibility of taking her sister into her home. But now we can not go any where like we use to due the fact that we can not live her sister alone by her self even if it is at night. Yes we do have a home care lady who's not really qualified. She comes in at 9AM everyday and leaves at 11AM and is on call for only 30 minutes when needed than she comes back every night at 7:30PM to change her and put her to bed by 8PM and then she leaves. My girl is burned out and I'm paying hell because they are both impatient. And all the time from day to night her sister just wants to sit in front of the t.v. bitch and complain about everything. Whatever money I do manage to obtain I turn over to my girl to help out with rent or whatever. And still I catch hell. What do I do ? What can i do for her "my girl " as well? r