Make Sure You Get All the Benefits and Services You’re Entitled to
The views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog are solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Posted 01-27-2023
You may not be aware of this. What I am about to tell you is tragic.
Even though we live in the greatest country in the world . . .
. . . A Large Percentage of Older Adults Don’t Have Enough Money to Make Ends Meet or Are Just Scraping By
42% of the people over 65 living in Knox County really struggle on a day to day basis to get by.
A little over 13% of these have incomes at or below the poverty level.
Another 29% have income greater than the poverty level but not high enough to afford the basic household necessities.
Sadly, no one chose to be in this situation. However, it happened. Here are some of the ways it may have:
For some, there is a family history of poverty. Their grandparents and parents were in poverty. They grew up in it and know no other way of life.
They always had the lowest paying jobs and never could get ahead. Their monthly Social Security benefit was low because their wages throughout their working years were low.
Others had jobs paying more than the minimum wage, However, they were still low paying jobs. While they desired to get better paying jobs, they had low self-esteem. They just gave up and didn’t try to get better jobs.
This hurt them when they retired because, again, their monthly Social Security benefit was based on their annual wages during their working years.
Others saw they couldn’t make ends meet on their monthly Social Security benefit after they retired. So, they continued to work.
Sadly, they had serious medical conditions and at some point, became disabled. They had to stop working. They were forced to live on the income they had coming in. It just wasn’t enough.
Others continued working into their 70’s and even their 80’s. As they looked around at work, they suddenly realized not only were they the oldest of all the workers, they also were far older than anyone else. So, they just stopped working and had to try to get by on their low monthly Social Security benefit.
Last, there is the death of a spouse. While both were alive, each one of them got a monthly Social Security check. One had a small pension. They were able to live comfortably on the money coming in each month.
Suddenly one died. His or her monthly income stopped. The only income the other had to rely on is their own. That dropped them into the 42% class.
This problem of older adults not having enough money to make ends meet and being forced to just scrape by is not a new one. Over the years, government, businesses and non-profit organizations have developed programs to assist these people.
The Main Problem is Many of the People Who Need Help Have No Idea of What Programs are Available or How to Get Them
You may wonder what some of these are:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Years ago, this was known as Food Stamps. Many qualify for these benefits but have not applied.
Medicare Savings programs
People can get help with their Medicare Premiums and cost sharing.
Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy program
There is a free service – Affordable Medical Options for Seniors (AMOS). This program helps people reduce the cost of their prescription drugs.
Also — people who have serious medical conditions avoid taking the prescription drugs they need or don’t take them as they’re supposed to because they can’t afford them. They are unaware the drug companies that produce these drugs may provide them to them at little or no cost.
Mobile Meals Program
Most are unaware the Mobile Meals program in Knox County started over 50 years ago.
This program provides hot, nutritious meals at lunch time at no charge to those older people who are homebound, unable to cook and alone during the day. These meals are provided 5 days a week
Mobile Affordable Meals Service
This service provides meals 5 days a week for those who want them but don’t qualify for the regular Mobile Meals program. There is a charge for these meals.
The Gift of Sight, Hearing and Dentures Program
This program provides eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures to those who qualify for them.
The Knox Paws Program
Many older adults living by themselves are lonely. Having a pet helps many get over their loneliness. This program helps older adults get older pets.
The Volunteer Assisted Transportation Program
We all know how crucial it is for people to get around. Some people lack the means to do so.
For those without a car or access to public transportation, this program provides rides for them to and from places they need to go – Doctor’s offices, grocery stores, drug stores, etc.
There also are programs to help with utility and water bills.
Am I Eligible for Help? How Do I Get?
You may wonder if you are eligible for any of these programs and if you are, how do you go about getting it. The Office on Aging has set up an Information and Benefits Department. The people working there will be happy to assist you in finding out what you are eligible for and applying for help.
The objective of the people working in the Information and Benefits Department is to help the people contacting them get all of the services and benefits they qualify for. They become their advocates.
They also understand how intimidating it can be for some to fill out applications. So, they will help them complete any necessary.
To reach them, please call 865-524-2786.
Others are frustrated when they are transferred from one person or department to another. If the person in the Information and Benefits Department has to transfer a caller to another person who handle what the need, they will stay on the line with them.
What Can You Expect When You Call?
When you call, the people there will get information on you and your income. They will find out what benefits you currently are receiving. They then will tell you about what other benefits and services you may be eligible for.
Some of what you may qualify for may be handled by other people in the Office on Aging. Rather than just transferring you to them, they will take your information and talk to them about your situation. If they have to transfer you, they will remain on the line with you.
If an application is required, they will fill it out or help you to complete it.
Don’t Be Reluctant to Get the Benefits and Services You’re Entitled to
You may be reluctant to call because you don’t want anyone to know your situation. Don’t be. The people in the Information and Benefits Department have one desire, that is, to help you get the benefits and services you are entitled to. They keep any information you give them strictly confidential. You don’t have to worry about them telling others about your situation.
If You Don’t Need Help, You May Know Someone Who Does
Maybe you personally do not need help. However, you may have a relative, friend or neighbor who does. Please let them know about the Information and Benefits Department. That phone number again is 865-524-2786
Please give them the phone number If they are reluctant to call, offer to take part in the call with them.
There is no need for you or those close to you to be struggling today when there are resources available to help with any of the needs you or they have.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, I would love to know them. Please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.