As we age, the cost of living a healthy, happy lifestyle increases. Staying on top of medical bills, managing medication costs, and accessing preventative care are just a few examples of financial burdens older adults may face.
Fortunately, many programs exist to offer financial benefits to senior citizens in New York City. Below are options you can utilize to find financial support as you navigate home care services and other health costs.
- The New York Department of Health, the New York Department of Social Services, and similar offices provide financial assistance programs for older adults who meet certain eligibility requirements.
- These programs are designed to help senior citizens maintain a good quality of life as they age by allowing them to access the medical care they need.
- Qualifying for one or more programs can grant you thousands of dollars in benefits that help you cover food, housing, medical insurance costs, and more.
One of the most widely-received types of financial benefits New Yorkers can rely on is Social Security. Legal U.S. residents who pay into the program while working can take advantage of its perks later in life.
- Purpose: To provide a source of monthly income for insured retirees and their dependents or survivors. Social Security benefits aim to help older adults maintain a high quality of life and protect their families from financial challenges as they stop working.
- Eligibility: Workers enrolled in Social Security may start receiving benefits at age 62. It’s not necessary to be retired to receive these benefits.
- Other Details: Some family members and beneficiaries may also be eligible for benefits if they meet certain requirements. For instance, spouses over 62 years old and unmarried children under 18 may also receive financial assistance.
Supplemental Security Income
Another popular option for older adults in New York City is Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Purpose: Offer financial assistance to those who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled and have limited income. Payments through this program help recipients meet their basic needs.
- Eligibility: Only adults who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled qualify for SSI in NYC. You must also be a U.S. citizen or, in some cases, an eligible non-citizen. Since this financial support is need-based, the more income you have, the lower your SSI benefits.
- Other Details: This program is hosted by the federal government, but the State of New York supplements the federal payment to provide greater financial support to recipients.
- Maximum Payments: Up to $2,000 in monthly payments to individuals and $3,000 for couples.
Senior citizens in NYC who have served in the U.S. military can take advantage of veteran benefits that help them access the support they deserve. State benefits can supplement those provided by the federal Department of Veteran Affairs.
- Purpose: Recognize and support older adults who have served the nation with pensions for low-income and disabled veterans. These benefits may cover services like health care, vocational training, education, life insurance, vocational training, and more. They may also include medical benefits such as free or low-cost care in V.A. hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient services.
- Eligibility: Other than having served on active duty in the military and being a resident of New York, there are only a few eligibility criteria to consider. Specific rules may apply depending on the benefit or program.
- Other Details: Dependents and survivors may also be eligible for some benefits. Eligible veterans may also be granted an exemption from property taxes.
Younger and older New Yorkers may be eligible for public assistance benefits that make managing food, clothing, and housing costs easier.
- Purpose: Provide cash benefits for low-income New York residents and support their health and well-being. For older adults, public assistance benefits ensure a person’s quality of life is maintained, and services like home care are accessible.
- Eligibility: In some cases, individuals must be 65 or older to receive public assistance benefits. Some programs offer benefits to other populations, though, including those with disabilities.
- Other Details: Annual income limits can vary by program, but possessing over $3,000 in assets is usually an eligibility cut-off for adults over 60.
- Maximum Payments: $398.10 for one person and $541.50 for a couple. This amount must include a person’s monthly rent payment.
Eligible seniors can find additional financial support through Medicare, a federal program designed to make managing the costs of health care easier.
- Purpose: Serve as health insurance that helps cover medical services like hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, medications, and more. Medicare ensures senior citizens in NYC can access appropriate medical care without being limited by out-of-pocket expenses.
- Eligibility: Recipients must be 65 or older and generally are required to have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least a decade. Certain disabled people under 65 may be eligible after receiving Social Security Disability benefits for two years.
- Other Details: There are several parts of Medicare that offer different perks and limitations. The two main programs are Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, home health care, inpatient care at a skilled nursing facility, and more. Meanwhile, Part B covers doctor services, outpatient hospital services, and durable medical equipment or supplies.
Medicare comes with deductibles and premiums like any other insurance, but these values may vary based on your income and the services in question.
Medicare Savings Program
Medicare Savings Programs, or MSPs, are state-run programs that help senior citizens with limited income pay part or all of their Medicare costs, including co-payments, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- Purpose: Help individuals relying on Medicare benefits manage the financial obstacles that come with accessing and receiving care.
- Eligibility: To be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program, you generally must also be eligible for enrollment in Original Medicare. Specific limits and requirements may vary between individual programs.
There are a few types of MSP you might consider applying for based on your needs. Examples include the following:
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
- Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLIMB) Program
- Qualifying Individual (Q.I.) Program
Medicare Part D
This piece of the Medicare program offers prescription drug coverage, including most recommended vaccines, to eligible beneficiaries. Coverage plans are offered through private insurance companies that agree to follow the rules outlined by Medicare.
- Purpose: Provide financial support to Medicare recipients so they can afford prescription medications and other treatments without managing high out-of-pocket costs.
- Eligibility: You must be eligible and receive Medicare benefits to participate in a prescription drug coverage plan.
- Other Details: Individuals can join a Medicare Part D plan in addition to “Original Medicare” (parts A and B) or by joining a Medicare Advantage Plan that features medication coverage.
Visit Medicare.Gov to access a plan finder tool and view the available options in New York.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as “Obamacare,” aimed to expand health insurance coverage by creating the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- Purpose: Make it easier for benefit recipients to find and compare private insurance plans, enroll in Medicaid, or receive tax benefits that lower monthly health insurance costs.
- Eligibility: Those under 65 and without insurance can purchase coverage via the Marketplace. But the ACA’s other impacts, including more accessible care, mostly relate to Medicare coverage. As a result, to be eligible for these benefits, you likely also need to be eligible for Medicare.
- Other Details: The ACA has also expanded Medicaid access to more low-income older adults, meaning more adults in New York benefit from Medicaid than ever before.
Medicaid is a state and federal program designed to grant financial support to low-income individuals and families. Unlike Medicare, a federal program, Medicaid is hosted by each state, though all states must comply with national regulations. That means that each state offers different levels of benefits to Medicaid beneficiaries.
- Purpose: Medicaid programs help lower-income adults, people with disabilities, and the blind pay their medical bills, including those not covered by Medicare (such as dental care, home care, glasses, etc.)
- Eligibility: Those receiving SSI or public assistance are automatically eligible for Medicaid. Adults who are blind, live with disabilities, or are 65 or older may be eligible if their net monthly income is below $859 for one person or $1,267 for couples.
- Other Details: The Medicaid Surplus Income Program is available for cases where an applicant’s income exceeds requirements but is offset by the cost of medical bills.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP (Food Stamps)
Formerly known as “food stamps,” benefits provided by the SNAP help families and individuals meet basic needs.
- Purpose: To give eligible beneficiaries benefits that help them buy nutritious foods and self-care essentials.
- Eligibility: Senior citizens looking to apply for SNAP must be 60 or older. However, older adults are not the only eligible recipients of SNAP benefits; those who are unemployed, working part-time, or receiving public assistance may also qualify.
- Other Details: Household income is a primary determining factor for eligibility (aside from disability status). The current gross monthly income limit for SNAP benefits in New York is $1,473 for a family size of one. Be sure to check out monthly and annual income limits for your household size for the most accurate picture of your eligibility.
- Maximum Payments: As of 2023, maximum SNAP allowances for each month are $281 for one person and $516 for two. Allowance rates increase as the household size grows.
Traveling can get more challenging as a person ages, especially if they live independently. Reduced fare benefits ensure that attending doctor’s appointments, going to the store, and reaching other destinations are possible.
- Purpose: Help older adults and people with disabilities successfully navigate from place to place independently and without being limited by out-of-pocket costs.
- Eligibility: Applicants must be 65 or older to qualify or live with one or more disabilities. There are no asset or income limits for this type of benefit.
- Other Details: Eligible individuals may apply for a Reduced Fare MetroCard to make receiving benefits seamless. The correct fare is automatically deducted from these cards when a beneficiary boards public transportation.
Senior Citizen Rent Exemption (SCRIE)
This program helps protect older adults from changes in their rent prices that might threaten their housing situation.
- Purpose: Offer an exemption to eligible senior citizens that allows them to avoid paying increased rent prices.
- Eligibility: The head of the household receiving SCRIE benefits must be 62 or older. A $50,000 annual income limit also applies.
- Other Details: SCRIE does not offer coverage for rent increases caused by new equipment or services at a rental (i.e., renovation projects, amenities, and other major capital improvements).
Senior Citizens Homeowner Exemption (SCHE)
The senior citizen homeowners exemption (SCHE) program helps older adults save money by exempting a portion of their home value (up to 50%) from their property taxes.
- Purpose: Make it easier for older homeowners to manage their fiscal commitments despite their financial or other limitations.
- Eligibility: Applicants must be 65 years of age or older and have held the title to the property in question for at least 12 consecutive months. The property must also be the applicant’s legal residence and may only be used for residential purposes.
- Other Details: An income limit of $58,399 for the last calendar year is currently in place.
Real Property Tax Credit
Another type of tax exemption older adults may benefit from is a real property tax credit, which helps cover part of a previous year’s living expenses.
- Purpose: Offer homeowners and renters a tax credit of up to $375. This credit applies to part of the previous year’s rent, mortgage, etc.
- Eligibility: The property’s current market value must be $85,000 or less to qualify. Rentals must require an average monthly rent of $450 or less.
- Other Details: Beneficiaries can file for these tax credits retroactively for up to three years.
Home Energy Assistance Program
Also known as HEAP, the Home Energy Assistance Program provides a one-time grant that older and younger adults alike may qualify for.
- Purpose: To help renters and homeowners pay for energy and utility costs such as electricity, gas, and water.
- Eligibility: People of any age can qualify for this benefit as long as they do not make more than the current monthly income limit ($2,391 for individuals and $3,127 for couples).
- Other Details: Benefit amounts typically range from $21 to $575, though households that rely on kerosene or oil may see benefits up to $675.
Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement
A home’s primary heat sources are an essential component of its ability to provide shelter. Fixing these essential devices is a task that can be made easier with financial assistance from the state.
- Purpose: Help homeowners replace equipment like heaters and boilers that keep their homes safe and functional.
- Eligibility: This program is designed to support low-income individuals and families, but no strict income limits or age requirements apply.
- Other Details: Specific benefit amounts depend on the replacements or repairs needed and the costs that come with them.
Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage
Also known as “EPIC,” this program helps pay Medicare Part D costs for low- to moderate-income beneficiaries.
- Purpose: Make the prescription medication coverage offered by Medicare Part D accessible by handling additional out-of-pocket costs.
- Eligibility: You must be enrolled in Medicare Part D or be eligible for the program to receive EPIC benefits. An annual income limit of $75,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples also applies.
- Other Details: Beneficiaries may only receive EPIC benefits at pharmacies that are EPIC participants.
New York State School Tax Relief Program
The “STAR” program offers eligible beneficiaries an exemption from the school portion of property taxes.
- Purpose: Help households with low to moderate income levels save money on taxes and more easily manage financial responsibilities.
- Eligibility: An annual household income of $500,000 or less is required.
- Other Details: An enhanced STAR program is available to senior citizens 65 or older and helps them save an average of $600 on property taxes. The income limit for this program is $86,300 or less for the entire household.
Overall, there are plenty of opportunities to receive financial support available to senior citizens in NYC. Finding the right options is often the hardest part — once you’ve located benefits that might work for you, all you have to do is apply and wait to receive the support you deserve.