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Most Overlooked Senior Benefits

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Top Takeaways 

  1. Caregivers often don’t take advantage of benefits because they’re unaware they’re available
  2. Some of the most overlooked senior benefits offer support for subsidizing or modifying a home, paying certain bills, and helping with Medicare premiums



Caring for an aging parent or relative can come with serious challenges. 

Fortunately, many government programs are designed specifically to aid seniors as they transition into needing additional support. Despite the various federal, state, and local support sources, many caregivers don’t take advantage of these benefits simply because they’re unaware they’re available. 

Here are six of the most overlooked benefits for seniors that may make caregiving just a little bit easier.


1. Money for Veterans to Modify a Caregiver’s Home

For those providing caregiving for retired service members with service-connected disabilities, there may be overlooked benefits available in the form of Temporary Residence Adaptation. 

What is it?

    • Temporary Residence Adaptation grants are VA grants to improve accessibility for a caregiver’s home. 
    • TRA grants can be as much as $40,637.

Who is eligible?

    • Service-disabled veterans who are eligible for grants to improve accessibility for their own homes.
    • The veteran must now be living in the home of a caregiver.
    • The caregiver’s home does not meet the veteran’s accessibility needs.

How do I apply?


2. Assistance Paying Energy Bills

Utilities can be a significant expense, particularly for those living in more extreme climates. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help those with limited resources pay their energy bills. 

What is it?

    • LIHEAP provides bill payment assistance for energy/utilities.
    • Qualified individuals can get funding for weatherization of their homes.
    • Recipients may receive money for energy-related repairs.
    • In some cases, grants to offset the cost of solar panel installation are available.

Who is eligible?

    • To qualify for LIHEAP, a person needs to have an income under the established limit for their household size. 
    • People currently receiving benefits from other programs for low-income individuals—including SNAP (formerly food stamps), TANF, or SSI—may be eligible automatically.
    • To see if you qualify, visit the LIHEAP website on benefits.gov, and use the income calculator. 

How do I apply?

    • For information on where to apply, contact the National Energy Assistance Referral program by calling 1-866-674-6327, or by emailing energy@ncat.org.


3. Help With Medicare Premiums

Low-income seniors may not be aware that they qualify for help paying their Medicare Part B premium. This benefit can result in significant savings  throughout the year.

What is it?

    • Medicare Savings Programs can pay Medicare Part B premiums (the standard Part B premium is $148.50 for 2021). 
    • In some cases, it can also cover out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance. 

Who is eligible?

    • Eligibility is determined by your state’s Medicaid program.
    • State’s set an income limit to qualify for the benefit.

How do I apply?


4. Help With Chores and Errands

Thanks to the Older Americans Act, seniors needing assistance keeping up with household responsibilities may be able to get free or discounted outside help.

What is it?

    • The OAA provides benefits for homemaking services, which include chores and grocery shopping.

Who is eligible?

    • The applicant must be age 60 or older.
    • While there is no income limit federally, this benefit is administered by individual states, so there may be additional requirements.

How do I apply?

    • Contact the agency that administers elder care services in your state for more information on how to apply. Click here for a directory of state elder care agencies.


5. Coverage for Shoes for Diabetics

Seniors with diabetes may not know that Medicare will help them pay for therapeutic shoes. 

What is it?

    • Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of custom shoes and inserts for enrollees with diabetes.
    • Annual coverage includes one pair of custom-molded shoes and inserts OR one pair of extra-depth shoes.
    • Coverage also include 2 or 3 additional pairs of inserts per calendar year.

Who is eligible?

To qualify, enrollees must have at least three of the following conditions:

    • Diabetes
    • Foot deformity
    • Nerve damage caused by diabetes
    • Foot ulcers
    • Amputation of foot
    • Poor circulation
    • Must be receiving treatment through a health care plan

To use this benefit, you must have a prescription for the shoes from your doctor.

How do I apply?

    • Check the durable medical equipment (DME) section of your coverage to find out your benefits, or call the phone number on your insurance card for more information on your coverage.


6. Subsidized Housing

Most people have heard of Section 8 vouchers for housing, but few seniors know the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has a Section 202 subsidy program. 

What is it? 

    • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly is specifically designated for low-income seniors.
    • Eligible properties are usually apartment complexes with supportive community features like cleaning, cooking, and transportation.
    • These properties are designed with seniors in mind, so the buildings have accessibility elements like grab bars, ramps, and elevators.

Who is eligible?

    • Households with at least one person 62 or older
    • No citizenship requirement
    • Household must make less than 50% of the Area Median Income for the area to which you are applying

How do I apply?

    • Though this benefit is available to seniors, the application process can be lengthy. 
    • Find a section 202 home you want, then work with the landlord or property owner to apply for a grant.
    • The property can tell you how long the wait typically is, but multi-year waitlists are not uncommon. 
    • Approval for these grants does take individual circumstances into account.  Priority goes to seniors who are:
      • being forced to move from their existing housing;
      • live in sub-standard conditions; or
      • are currently spending more than 50% of their income on rent.
    • For information and help finding Section 202 homes available in your area, contact your local HUD agency.


While caregiving can be stressful physically, emotionally, and financially, being educated on the free supports available can make an enormous impact. By tapping into the overlooked senior benefits resources, caregivers can maximize the level of care your loved one receives.

Trina Eaton

Trina Eaton is experienced in healthcare tech, having nearly a decade of experience working with physicians, pharma, and payers.

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