Government Resources and Retirement Benefits
Updated on Mar 09 2018
Retirement planning can seem overwhelming; especially if you are 50+ years old and feel you have not saved enough. The good news is that with some careful financial planning, possibly working with a financial advisor, and additional government and private resources; you may be in better financial shape than you think.
Do You Know How to Apply for Government Aid Benefits?
There is a process for receiving government aid. You have to apply for benefits for the following government programs:
Social Security – Social Security is a federal program that America’s workers’ pay taxes toward each paycheck. The tax money pays benefits to the following people:
- The disabled
- Survivors of workers who have died
- Dependents of beneficiaries
You can apply online for retirement benefits or benefits as a spouse if you:
- are at least 61 years and 9 months old
- are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record
- have not already applied for retirement benefits
- want your benefits to start no more than 4 months in the future
VA Programs – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers many basic education and healthcare benefits for those who have served in the U.S. military.
The following veteran’s benefit programs are available to those who served at least 90 days of active duty, with one or more of those days during specific VA dates of wartime . This does not mean that the veteran had to see actual combat, as the duty could have been a desk job stateside. If active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called to duty. Research more about each benefit to see if you or your spouse qualifies for veteran’s benefits:
Medicare – If you are 65 or older, you can apply for Medicare, a federal insurance program for seniors and those with a severe disability, to help with medical needs, such as medical tests, services, equipment, outpatient care, hospital stays, surgery, and more. There are different parts of Medicare to help cover specific services:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
- Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home healthcare.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
- Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
- A type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits.
Learn more about what Medicare covers.
Medicaid – You qualify for Medicaid’s social healthcare program if you are 65 years and older or have blindness or a disability as well as meet low-income requirements, outlined by the Affordable Care Act, on a state-by-state basis. Find out whether you are eligible for Medicaid based on your income and family size.
Medicare eligibility is determined through a Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) assessment. MAGI is used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid, CHIP, and premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions available through the health insurance marketplace. By using one set of income counting rules and a single application across programs, the Affordable Care Act made it easier for people to apply and enroll in the appropriate program.
Are You Prepared for Retirement? These Additional Resources May Help
There are many government benefits and additional resources at your fingertips, if you know where to find them. The following government and non-profit resources can be helpful:
United States Department of Labor – The U.S. Department of Labor is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits and re-employment services. The Employee Benefit Security Department (EBSA) sector provides many helpful financial and retirement resources, including steps on how to file a claim for your retirement benefits, retirement savings tips for women and choosing a retirement solution for your small business.
AARP – AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The organization is dedicated to “empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age,” as stated on their website. You can peruse helpful articles, in addition to becoming a member to receive community and ticket discounts.
American Savings Education Council (ASEC) – ASEC is a national coalition of public- and private-sector institutions committed to making saving and retirement planning a priority for all Americans. The site offers retirement calculators and helpful retirement savings resources.
Consumer Federation of America (CFA) – CFA is a non-profit organization that helps advance consumer interests through research, education and advocacy. You can become a member, voice your concerns and have access to helpful consumer resources, such as how to protect yourself from identity theft, a major problem facing seniors today.
U.S. Department of the Treasury – The Treasury Department works with financial institutions to encourage economic growth and promote the stability of the broader United States financial system. You can gain access to helpful tax information as well as find answers to common questions and answers about finances.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for Seniors – the Exchange Commission for Seniors provides investor alerts and bullets and also features helpful information for seniors, such as preventing elder abuse, fraud and scams.
Meals on Wheels – Meals on Wheels is the largest national provider of senior meal services. The meal delivery organization is composed of 5,000 nutrition programs across the country and even offers catered menus and dietary food options in some states and counties. Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers meals to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.
Take Advantage of Free Resources
Now that you have many helpful—not to mention free—resources at your fingertips, you may have more financial freedom than you were previously aware. It’s still a good idea to proactively plan and save for your retirement so that you can enjoy financial peace of mind in your golden years. An expert financial planner can help you get organized and can recommend investments for your unique situation and investment portfolio.