Where to Find Free Social Services for Your Loved One

February 25, 2016

While some of us may be fortunate enough to have parents who have successfully retired, many remain who are concerned about struggling family or friends. The statistics are sobering: one in five senior Americans lives on a fixed income that allows for almost nothing beyond the essentials of food, housing, and medicine (if that). Almost half of Americans 65+ rely on Social Security payments for 90% of their monthly income; these payments average just $443. If you’re one of the millions of people concerned about an elderly friend or family member struggling to have their basic needs met, you’re most likely searching for free or subsidized services to offset this income deficit.

The good news is that there’s quite a breadth of resources out there – many of them free – and helpful websites who’ve done the research to help point you in the right direction. Here are some we like:

  • A free service from the National Council on Aging, BenefitsCheckUp helps needy seniors connect with programs that help pay for prescription medication, food, healthcare, and other necessities. Through a few website clicks, the site helps visitors determine what they qualify for in the way of assistance, and where to find it. They claim to have helped almost 5M seniors find almost $16B worth of benefits – pretty impressive.
  • The National Council on Aging website is also an excellent resource that lists and explains clearly what can often be overwhelming info on Medicare, Medicaid, and other public and private benefits programs.
  • Benefits.gov: As the official benefits website for the US government, benefits.gov provides seniors a gateway into all available government assistance programs, from energy and food assistance to tax and disaster relief. Their benefit finder feature makes the process clear and straightforward, using a questionnaire format to shepherd visitors through the process.
  • The Eldercare Directory site is designed to provide a clear, comprehensive, one-stop access point to available state and federal benefits programs, as well as to information on Medicare and Medicaid, elder law and finance, and other thorny topics.
  • Each state’s Department of Elder Affairs hosts a site directory listing all available state assistance programs; click here to find your local office.

If the process feels a bit overwhelming, you might consider looping in a Geriatric Social Worker to help navigate the available programs and their requirements and processes. Their training is highly specialized, and they have access to all the latest information and contacts. Head here to learn more about Geriatric Social Workers and how to connect with one in your area.