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From healthcare to groceries: how retirees can save money in the US

For seniors who are already struggling financially, retirement can bring a whole host of new challenges. While the cost of things like transportation and clothing tends to decrease with age, the cost of food - and of course health care - doesn't. For seniors who become homebound, that is, those who need another person's help or outpatient care, or those whose condition may worsen outside the home, things and services are often more expensive. How to save money was told by the publication GoBankingRates.

Photo: Shutterstock

The good news: Savvy seniors can earn even more in retirement with free or low-cost home care services, home health options, and delivery services.

1. Get the most out of Medicare

Many seniors may be eligible for one or more of the following Medicare savings programs:

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)
  • Specified Low Income Medicare Recipient (SLMB)
  • Qualified Person (QI)
  • Skilled Disabled Persons and Workers (QDWI)
  • These programs can pay for health insurance, known as Medicare Part B, and hospital insurance, which is Medicare Part A. They can even pay co-payments.
2. Avoid Medicare Penalties

Medicare Part B covers a wide range of services and Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. Both are important components of the social safety net, but mismanaging them at retirement can lead to costly and lengthy fines, said Joanne Giardini-Russell, Medicare Specialist with Senior Health Medicare, which helps seniors navigate Medicare and choose a coating that suits their needs.

“If you choose the wrong time, there will be a lot of financial costs for Medicare,” she said. "Failure to subscribe to your Part B without what the government considers to be a good reason will result in fines."

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If you plan to leave Plan B, Giardini-Russell suggests you see a qualified Medicare professional to make sure your reason is justified and that you are following the correct procedures. The same goes for Part D, she said.

3. Provide early Medigap coverage

According to Giardini-Russell, when people over the age of 65 and are enrolled in a Medicare Part B plan for the first time, they are considered open plan participants. This is the perfect time to buy Medigap coverage, which is in addition to Medicare and helps pay for some medical expenses not covered by Medicare.

This is an important time window that closes quickly.

“Right now, they have a full six months to purchase any Medigap policy they want, no questions asked,” Giardini-Russell said. "After six months, they will be asked questions about their health history and may be denied coverage."

If your Medigap coverage is denied or your enrollment is delayed, any treatment you need is likely to be significantly more expensive. This is because you have to pay for the Medicare “gaps” that Medigap is designed to fill, including deductions, copays, and premiums.

4. Get more help paying for your prescription drugs

If you get Medicare, have a modest income and limited resources, the Social Security Administration's Extra Help program can help you pay for your prescription drugs. If you qualify, the benefits of the program can save you up to $ 4000 per year.

To qualify, an individual may have no more than $ 13, or a married couple living together may have no more than $ 820 in resources such as stocks or bank accounts. The maximum annual income is $ 27 per person or $ 600 for a married couple living together.

5. Get help with home health services

Home health services are necessary but financially unaffordable for many older people. But with a combination of state and federal programs, you could afford the help you need.

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Veterans may be eligible for federal benefits that fund home care or the care of a family member.

If a person is under retirement age, they may also be eligible for significant Medicare assistance if the doctor confirms that they truly need home care and cannot leave their home to receive it. Anything not covered by federal programs may be covered by state programs. Visit SeniorLiving.orgfor a list of agencies you can contact in each state.

6. Take advantage of the PACE program

The Comprehensive Elderly Care Program, known as PACE, is for seniors who require home care. The program, which contracts with qualified health professionals in the patient's area, provides home care at the nursing home level. Since members are charged according to their financial situation, this is essentially available to everyone. If you qualify and decide to join, PACE becomes the only source for all the services you would normally get from Medicaid and Medicare. PACE helps many members save money by staying in their homes.

7. Save money on energy bills with LIHEAP

The Low Income Family Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), run by the Office of Public Services of the US Department of Health and Human Services, helps people, including retired home-based retirees, pay for their energy bills.

Not only can the program reduce the cost of heating or cooling your home, but LIHEAP can provide insulation services and even make small energy-related home renovations for free.

8. Ask for a property tax exemption

Many states offer senior homeowners, especially those with limited income, full or partial property tax exemptions. In New York City, for example, people over 65 who meet regional income restrictions can get a 50 percent tax cut. In Florida, senior homeowners can qualify for exemptions of up to $ 50.

9. Prepare tax returns for free

About 50 million older Americans have benefited from the AARP Foundation's tax assistance program since its launch in 1968. The program provides qualified volunteers to help low- and middle-income seniors prepare their taxes for free. AARP membership is not required.

Typically, services are provided in locations such as libraries, shopping malls, banks, and retirement centers, but retirees can call (888) 687-2277 to find out where the local event is taking place.

10. Help with paying your phone bill

The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans, including retirees, with discounted telephone and broadband access.

Broadband can be fixed or mobile. The Lifeline program, which will be enhanced through December 2021, is available in all 50 states and all US territories.

11. Library services

Many cities, states, and non-profit organizations offer free library services to seniors who find it difficult to leave their homes. The Philadelphia Library, for example, offers free library services that include book delivery and the ability to apply for a library card over the phone.

12. Food

For low-income pensioners, food assistance can be provided through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). You can find information about eligibility and how to apply for SNAP by visiting Agriculture Department Food and Nutrition Service website or by contacting your state.

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13. Meals on Wheels

If you are not eligible for SNAP, or still need a little extra help, contact Meals on Wheels. Funded in part by the Federal Older Americans Act and backed by community support, this long-standing program provides nutritious food for seniors across the country.

14. Free or low-cost dental care

Since 1974, the Dental Lifeline Network has been providing dental care to people who cannot afford dental services. Recipients must be at least 65 years of age, have a permanent disability, or be considered frail for health reasons.

In addition, there are dental programs in some areas that provide free or low-cost dental care and even dentures for low-income seniors. The local aging office or the state dental association are good places to find out about programs in your area.

15. Phones for people with hearing problems

Some seniors may qualify for the CaptionCall program, which provides phones for people with hearing loss. Instead of listening to what is being said on the other line, you can read the words as they are transmitted on the phone screen. To do this, the healthcare professional must confirm that you require a subtitled telephone service due to hearing loss.

16. Inexpensive grocery delivery service

Among the cheapest shipping companies is Instacart, which charges just $ 3,99 for non-urgent shipping. Not only is the commission one of the lowest in the industry, you can also find exclusive deals, discounts and coupons on the site.

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