SAVVY SENIOR
Burial and Memorial Benefits Available to Veterans

 

Sept. 30, 2014

Jim Miller


Dear Savvy Senior,

Does the Veterans Administration provide any special funeral services or benefits to old veterans? My father is a 90-year-old World War II veteran with late stage Alzheimer’s, so I’m looking into funeral options and would like to know what the VA may provide.

Planning Ahead

 

Dear Planning,

Yes, the Veterans Administration offers a number of burial and memorial benefits to veterans if their discharge from the military was under conditions other than dishonorable – which will need to be verified. To do this, you’ll need a copy of your dad’s DD Form 214 “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” which you can request online at archives.gov/veterans.

Here’s a rundown of some of the different benefits that are available to veterans that die a non-service related death.

 

National and State Cemetery Benefits

If your dad is eligible, and wants to be buried in one of the 131 national or 93 state VA cemeteries (see www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp for a list) the VA benefits provided at no cost to the family include a gravesite; opening and closing of the grave; perpetual gravesite care; a government headstone or marker; a United States burial flag that can be used to drape the casket or accompany the urn (after the funeral service, the flag is given to the next-of-kin as a keepsake); and a Presidential memorial certificate, which is an engraved paper certificate signed by the current President expressing the country’s grateful recognition of the veteran’s service.

National cemetery burial benefits are also available to spouses and dependents of veterans.

If your dad is cremated, his remains will be buried or inurned in the same manner as casketed remains.

Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are not, however, taken care of by the VA. They are the responsibility of the veteran’s family.

 

Private Cemetery Benefits

If your dad is going to be buried in a private cemetery, the benefits available include a free government headstone or marker, or a medallion that can be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker; a burial flag; and a Presidential memorial certificate.

Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are again the responsibility of the family, and there are no benefits offered to spouses and dependents that are buried in private cemeteries.

 

Military Funeral Honors

Another popular benefit available to all eligible veterans buried in either a national or private cemetery is a military funeral honors ceremony. This includes folding and presenting the U.S. burial flag to the veteran’s survivors and the playing of Taps, performed by two or more uniformed military members.

The funeral provider you choose will be able to assist you with all VA burial requests. Depending on what you want, certain forms may need to be completed which are always better to be done in advance. For a complete rundown of burial and memorial benefits, eligibility details and required forms, visit www.cem.va.gov or call 800-827-1000.

 

Burial Allowances

In addition to the many burial benefits, some veterans may also qualify for a $734 burial and funeral expense allowance (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $734 plot-interment allowance to those who choose to be buried in a private cemetery. To find out if your dad is eligible, see benefits.va.gov/benefits/factsheets/burials/burial.pdf.

To apply for burial allowances, you’ll need to fill out VA Form 21-530 “Application for Burial Benefits.” You need to attach a copy of your dad’s discharge document (DD 214 or equivalent), death certificate, funeral and burial bills. They should show that you have paid them in full. You may download the form at va.gov/vaforms.

 


Vaccination Options Available to Seniors this Flu Season 
  
Sept. 23, 2014


Dear Savvy Senior,

I understand that there are several types of flu vaccines being offered to seniors this flu season. What can you tell me about them?

Cautious Senior

 

Dear Cautious,

Depending on your health, age and personal preference, there’s a buffet of flu shots available to seniors this flu season, along with two vaccinations for pneumonia that you should consider getting too.

                                                                                         

Flu Shots Options

Just as they do every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a seasonal flu shot to almost everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors who are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. The flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills around 24,000 – 90 percent of whom are seniors. Here’s the rundown of the different options:
 

Standard (trivalent) flu shot: This tried-and-true shot that’s been around for more than 30 years protects against three strains of influenza. This year’s version protects against the two common A strains (H1N1 and H3N2), and one influenza B virus.

Quadrivalent flu shot: This vaccine, which was introduced last year, protects against four types of influenza – the same three strains as the standard flu shot, plus an additional B-strain virus.

High-dose flu shot: Designed specifically for seniors, age 65 and older, this vaccine, called the Fluzone High-Dose, has four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot does, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. But, be aware that the high-dose option may also be more likely to cause side effects, including headache, muscle aches and fever.

Intradermal flu shot: If you don’t like needles, the intradermal shot is a nice option because it uses a tiny 1/16-inch long micro-needle to inject the vaccine just under the skin, rather than deeper in the muscle like standard flu shots. This trivalent vaccine is recommended only to those ages 18 to 64.

To locate a vaccination site that offers these flu shots, visit vaccines.gov and type in your ZIP code. You’ll also be happy to know that if you’re a Medicare beneficiary, Part B will cover 100 percent of the costs of any flu shot, as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays. Private health insurers are also required to cover standard flu shots, however, you’ll need to check with your provider to see if they cover the other vaccination options.

 

Pneumonia Vaccines

The other important vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. An estimated 900,000 people in the U.S. get pneumococcal pneumonia each year, and it kills around 5,000. 

This year, the CDC is recommending that all seniors 65 or older get two separate vaccines, which is a change of decades-old advice. The vaccines are Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Previously, only Pneumovax 23 was recommended for seniors.

Both vaccines, which are administered just once, work in different ways to provide maximum protection.

If you haven’t yet received any pneumococcal vaccine you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 six to 12 months later. But, if you’ve already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23 you should get Prevnar 13 at least one year later.

Medicare currently covers only one pneumococcal vaccine per older adult. If you’re paying out of pocket, you can expect to pay around $50 to $85 for Pneumovax 23, and around $120 to $150 for the Prevnar 13.

 

Wandering solutions for Alzheimer’s caregivers 
Sept. 16, 2014



Q: My mother, who lives with me, has Alzheimer’s disease and I worry about her wandering away. What tips can you recommend to help me protect her?

A: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 60 percent of people who suffer from dementia wander at some point. For caregivers, this can be frightening because many of those who wander off end up confused and lost, even in their own neighborhood, and are unable to communicate who they are or where they live. But there are things you can do to guard against this and protect your loved one.

 

Wandering prevention

For starters, to help reduce your mom’s tendency to wander, keep her occupied and involved in familiar daily activities such as preparing dinner or folding the laundry. It’s also important to encourage daily exercise and limit daytime napping to reduce nighttime restlessness.

There are also a number of simple home modifications you can make to keep her from wandering away. Some possible solutions include: adding an extra lock on the top or bottom of the exterior doors out of the line of sight; install child-proof door knobs or levers; place a full-length mirror, or put a “STOP” or “Do Not Enter” sign on the doors you don’t want her going through; or get a signal device or motion sensor that lets you know when the door is opened. See alzstore.com for a variety of product solutions. And, be sure you hide the car keys to keep her from driving.

It’s also a good idea to alert your neighbors that your mom may wander so they can keep an eye out, and have on hand a recent picture to show around the neighborhood or to the police if she does get lost.

 

Wandering services

If you want some added protection in case she does wander off, there are a number services you can turn to for help, like the MedicAlert + Safe Return program (medicalert.org/safereturn).

This service comes with a personalized ID bracelet that will have your mom’s medical information engraved on it, along with her membership number and the toll-free MedicAlert emergency phone number.

If she goes missing, you would call 911 and report it to the local police department who would begin a search, and then report it to MedicAlert. Or, a Good Samaritan or police officer may find her, call the MedicAlert number, to get her back home safely.

Another option that could help, depending on where you live, is a radio frequency locater service like SafetyNet and Project Lifesaver, which are offered by some local law enforcement agencies.

With these services, your mother would wear a wristband that contains a radio transmitter that emits tracking signals. If she goes missing, you would contact the local authorities who would send out rescue personnel who will use their tracking equipment to locate her. Visit safetynetbylojack.com and projectlifesaver.org to see if these services are available in your community.

 

GPS tracking

There are also a number of GPS tracking devices that can help you keep tabs on your mom. With these products, she would carry or wear a small GPS tracker that would notify you or other caregivers via text message or email if she were to wander beyond a pre-established area, and would let you know exactly where to find her if she did.

To find GPS trackers, consider the PocketFinder (pocketfinder.com) or the Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone (alz.org/comfortzone). Or, if you have concerns that your mother wouldn’t wear a GPS device or would take it off, there’s the GPS SmartSole (gpssmartsole.com), which is an insole with an embedded GPS device.

For more wandering prevention tips and solutions, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Safety Center at alz.org/safety and This Caring Home at thiscaringhome.org.

 


Ergonomic tools that can ease gardening pains 
Sept. 9, 2014


Q: Are brand-name medications better than generic, and if not, why is there such a price difference? Also, how can I find out which medicines are available in generic form.
 

A: No. Brand-name medications are not better, safer or more effective than their generic alternative because they’re virtually the same.

To gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), generic drugs are required to the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form and route of administration as their brand-name counterpart. The generic manufacturer must also demonstrate that people absorb the drug at the same rate.

The only difference between a brand-name drug and its generic is the name (generics are usually called by their chemical name), shape and color of the drug (U.S. trademark laws don’t allow generics to look exactly like the their brand-name counterparts) and price. Generic drugs are often 10 to 30 percent cheaper when they first become available, but by the end of the first year the price can drop in half. And by the second and third year it can drop 70 to 90 percent.

 

Cost difference

The reason generic drugs are so much cheaper is because their manufacturers don’t have the hefty start-up costs that the original creators of the drug do. When a pharmaceutical company creates a new drug, it spends millions of dollars on the research, development and clinical testing phase. Then, if it gets FDA approval, it has to turn around and spend even more money to market the drug to the health care industry and the public.

The total cost can rise into the hundreds of millions by the time the drug is in the hands of consumers.

In an effort to recoup their investment, the brand-name drug makers charge a premium price, and are given a 20-year patent protection, which means that no other company can make or sell the drug during that period of time.

After those 20 years are up, however, other companies can apply to the FDA to sell generic versions. But because generic manufacturers don’t have the same research, development and marketing costs, they can sell their product much cheaper.

Also, once generic drugs are approved, there’s greater competition, which drives the price down. Today, nearly 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the United States are for generic, which saves U.S. consumers around $3 billion every week.

 

New generics

You should also know that in 2014 and 2015, patents on a wide variety of popular brand-name drugs will expire and become available in generic, including Celebrex, Copaxone, Actonel, Nexium, Exforge, Cymbalta, Lunesta, Avodart, Abilify, Evista, Maxalt, Maxalt MPT, Micardis, Micardis HCT, Reneagel, Twynata and Xeloda.

For more information, Community Catalyst, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization provides a list on their website of the top 50 brand-name drugs and the dates they should become available as generics. Go to communitycatalyst.org, and type “Drugs Going Generic 2014 - 2015” in their search bar to find it.

You can also find out if a brand-name drug has a generic alternative by simply asking your doctor or pharmacist. Or, visit GoodRX.com, a Web tool that provides prices on brand-name drugs and their generic alternatives (if available) at virtually every pharmacy in the U.S. so you can find the best deals in your area.





 

How to recognize and handle senior gambling problems   
Sept. 2, 2014


Q: How can you know when someone has a gambling problem? Since my father passed away a couple years ago, my 76-year-old mother spends a lot of time at an Indian casino near her house playing slot machines.

A: It's a great question. Problem gambling among seniors is definitely on the rise. Seniors have time and money on their hands, and the influx of casinos across the country have made access to gambling much more convenient. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips and resources that can help your mom if she does indeed have a problem.

 

Problem gambling

For most older adults, gambling is simply a fun recreational activity, but for those who become addicted to it, it can be a devastating disease that can financially wipe them out.

There are a number of reasons why seniors can be vulnerable to gambling problems. For starters, seniors are often catered to by casinos with free bus transportation, free or discounted meals, special rewards and other prizes as a way to entice them.

In addition, many seniors use gambling as a way to distract or escape feelings of loneliness, depression, sadness, or even a chronic health condition. Some may have financial problems they are seeking to overcome. And some may have cognitive impairment that interferes with their ability to make sound decisions.

Adding to the problem is that many seniors may not understand addiction, making them less likely to identify a gambling problem. Or they may be confused or embarrassed that they can’t control their urges to gamble and reluctant to seek help because they think that at their age, they should know better. And even if they recognize that they have a problem, they may not know that help is available or where to get it.

You should also know that while there are many gambling options for people to get hooked on today, casino slot machines are far and away the most popular among seniors. Slot machines are much more addictive then the old machines of yesteryear with spinning lemons, cherries and melons. Many of today’s slot machines offer intense sensory stimulation with large video screens, music and vibrating, ergonomic chairs.

 

Find help

How can you know if your mom has a gambling problem? Gamblers Anonymous offers a 20 question online test at gamblersanonymous.org that your mom can take to help determine if she has a problem. In the meantime, here are some questions you can ask to help evaluate her situation.

Is she preoccupied with gambling, constantly talking about it, or planning to gamble versus doing her normal activities?

Is she gambling more and more money to get the same level of excitement?

Is she using her retirement funds or other savings to gamble, or is she pawning or selling personal items to get money to gamble with?

Has she lost control to the point that she can’t she set a limit of time and money to spend in the casino, and stick to it?

Does she become uncomfortable, angry or lie when you ask her about her gambling activities?

If your mom answers yes to any of these questions, she may have a problem. To find help contact the National Council on Problem Gambling (www.ncpgambling.org), a non-profit organization that operates a 24-hour national hotline at 800-522-4700. They can direct you to resources in your area, including counselors who have been trained through the National Certified Gambler Counseling Program.

 





How to get a Medicare covered power scooter or wheelchair   
August 19, 2014


Q: What’s the process for getting Medicare to pay for an electric mobility scooter or power wheelchair? My 76-year-old mother has arthritis in her knees and hips, and has a difficult time getting around anymore.
 

A: Getting an electric-powered mobility scooter or wheelchair for your mom that’s covered by original Medicare starts with a visit to her doctor’s office. If eligible, Medicare will pay 80 percent of the cost, after she meets her $147 Part B deductible. She will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent. Here’s a breakdown of how it works.
 

Make an appointment

Your first step is to call your mom’s doctor and schedule a Medicare required, face-to-face mobility evaluation, to determine her need for a power wheelchair or scooter. For your mom to be eligible, she’ll need to meet all of the following conditions:

- Her health condition makes moving around her home very difficult, even with the help of a cane, walker or manual wheelchair.

- She has significant problems performing activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, getting in or out of a bed or chair, or using the bathroom.

- She is able to safely operate, and get on and off the scooter or wheelchair, or have someone with her who is always available to help her safely use the device.

If eligible, your mom’s doctor will determine what kind of mobility equipment she’ll need based on her condition, usability in her home, and ability to operate it.

It’s also important to know that Medicare coverage is dependent on your mom needing a scooter or wheelchair in her home. If her claim is based on needing it outside her home, it will be denied as not medically necessary, because the wheelchair or scooter will be considered as a leisure item.

 

Where to shop

If the doctor determines your mom needs a power scooter or wheelchair, he or she will fill out a written order or certificate of medical necessity (CMN) form for her. Once she gets that, she’ll need to take it to a Medicare approved supplier within 45 days. If your mother happens to live in one of Medicare’s competitive bidding areas, you’ll need to get her device from specific suppliers approved by Medicare. To find approved suppliers and competitive bidding suppliers in your area, visit medicare.gov/supplier or call 800-633-4227.

Once you choose an approved supplier, they will send a representative to assess your mom’s home measuring her doorways, thresholds and overall space to ensure she gets the appropriate mobility device.

 

Financial assistance

If your mom has a Medicare supplemental policy, it may pick up some, or all of the 20 percent cost of the scooter or wheelchair that’s not covered by Medicare. If, however, she doesn’t have supplemental insurance, and can’t afford the 20 percent, she may be able to get help through Medicare Savings Programs. Call your local Medicaid office for eligibility information.

Or, if you find that your mom is not eligible for a Medicare covered scooter or wheelchair, and she can’t afford to purchase one, renting can be a much cheaper short-term solution. Talk to a supplier about this option.

For more information, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and request a copy of publication #11046 “Medicare’s Wheelchair and Scooter Benefit,” or you can read it online at medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/11046.pdf.

 

Medicare advantage

If your mom happens to have a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO), she’ll need to call her plan to find out the specific steps she needs to take to get a wheelchair or scooter. Many Advantage plans may have specific suppliers within the plan’s network they’ll require her to use.





 

Life insurance in retirement  
August 12, 2014


Q: Is life insurance needed in retirement? I’m about to retire and have been thinking about dropping my policy to escape the premiums. Is this a good idea?
 

A: While many retirees choose to stop paying their life insurance premiums when they no longer have young families to take care of, there are a few reasons you may still want to keep your policy. Here are some different points to consider that can help you determine if you still need life insurance in retirement.

Dependents: Life insurance is designed to help protect your spouse and children from poverty in the case of your untimely death. But if your children are grown and are on their own, and you have sufficient financial resources to cover you and your spouse’s retirement costs, then there is little need to continue to have life insurance.

But, if you had a child late in life or have a relative with special needs who is dependent on you for income, it makes sense to keep paying the premiums on your policy.

You also need to make sure your spouse’s retirement income will not take a significant hit when you die. Check out the conditions of your pension or annuity (if you have them) to see if they stop paying when you die, and factor in your lost Social Security income too. If you find that your spouse will lose a significant portion of income upon your death, you may want to keep the policy to help make up the difference.

Work: Will you need to take another job in retirement to earn income? Since life insurance helps replace lost income to your family when you die, you may want to keep your policy if your spouse or other family members are relying on that income. If, however, you have very little income from your retirement job, then there’s probably no need to continue with the policy.

Estate taxes: Life insurance can also be a handy estate-planning tool. If, for example, you own a business that you want to keep in the family and you don’t have enough liquid assets to take care of the estate taxes, you can sometimes use a life insurance policy to help your heirs pay off Uncle Sam when you die.

It’s a good idea to talk to a disinterested third party (not your insurance agent), like an estate planning expert or a fee-only financial planner to help you determine if your life insurance policy can help you with this.

 

Life settlement option

If you find that you don’t need your life insurance policy any longer, you may want to consider selling it in a “life settlement” transaction to a third party company for more than the cash surrender value would be, but less than its net death benefit.  The best candidates are people over age 65 who own a policy with a face value of $250,000 or more.

Once you sell your policy, however, the life settlement company becomes the new owner, pays the future premiums and collects the death benefit when you die.

How much money you can expect to get with a life settlement will depend on your age, health and life expectancy, the type of insurance policy, the premium costs and the value of your policy. Most sellers generally get 12 to 25 percent of the death benefit.

If you’re interested in this option, get quotes from several brokers or life settlement providers. Also, find out what fees you’ll be required to pay. To locate credible providers or brokers, the Life Insurance Settlement Association provides a referral service at lisa.org.

 


 

How to find the best reacher grabber tool  
August 5, 2014


Q: What kinds of reacher grabber tools can you recommend for seniors who need help picking things up off the ground. I bought a cheap one at Walmart a few months ago that doesn’t work very well for me, and would like to find one that does.
 

A: A good reacher grabber is a very handy tool for anyone with mobility issues. It works like an extension of your arm allowing you to reach down and pick things up off the ground without bending or stooping over. It can also help with reaching and grabbing things in high overhead places, as well as areas that are difficult to get to.

But with so many different reachers on the market today, finding a good one that works well for you is not always easy. Depending on your needs, here are some top options to consider.

Lightweight reacher: If you want a reacher primarily for picking up small lightweight items around the house, the “Aluminum Reacher with Magnetic Tip” by Duro-Med is multifunctional. Available in 32 and 26-inch lengths, it has a trigger-style handgrip with a serrated jaw that provides a secure grip when lifting objects. It also has a magnet built into the tip for picking up lightweight metal objects like a paperclip, and a small hook (or horn) that aids in retrieving things like clothes, shoes or keys. But, because of its lightweight design, it doesn’t work as well at retrieving heaver items like canned goods from shelves.

All-purpose reacher: For retrieving small and medium-sized items, the “Ettore Grip’n Grab” can handle most chores. Available in 16, 32 and 50-inch lengths, it has a soft comfortable trigger handgrip and a rubberized jaw that’s strong enough to lift objects up to 5 pounds and up to 4 inches wide, yet sensitive enough to pick up something as small as a dime. The jaw can also swivel 90 degrees to reach things in awkward spaces.

Ergonomic handle reachers: If you have hand or wrist arthritis that makes gripping difficult, the 31-inch “Medline Reacher” has a handgrip that lets you use all five fingers to close the jaw for better gripping power. Or, consider the new “HealthSmart GripLoc Sliding Reacher,” a 43-inch two-handed reacher with a power slide handle that opens and closes the jaw (no hand squeezing required), and a twist lock that locks the jaw when it’s clinched to secure your item.

Folding reacher: For easier storage or travel, the 32-inch “EZ Reacher Collapsible” has a slip-joint in the arm that allows it to fold in half. It also has stainless steel fingers with silicone suction cup tips that do a nice job of picking up large and small items; and a pistol grip with an optional safety lock that locks the jaw onto items without continuously squeezing the trigger.

Adjustable length reacher: If you need a reacher for various lengths, the “PikStik TelescoPik” has a lockable sliding shaft that adjusts from 30 to 44 inches. It also has a trigger grip and a rotating rubberized jaw that can lift up to 5 pounds.

Outdoor reacher: For outdoor use, the 36-inch “Unger Nifty Nabber” is ideal for heavy-duty jobs. It has a rubber-coated jaw for a strong and reliable grip with a built-in magnet, an aluminum handle and can lift 20 pounds.
 

Where to buy

You can buy reacher grabbers at many pharmacies, retail, medical equipment and home improvement stores. But, because it’s a specialty item, the selection is very limited. Your best bet is to buy one online at amazon.com, which sells all of the top reachers at prices ranging between $12 and $40. Just type the product name in the search bar to find it.





Food assistance programs can help seniors in need
July 30, 2014


Q: I run a community counseling program for needy families and am frustrated that so few eligible seniors take advantage of the food stamp program. Can you write a column on this to help educate seniors to this underutilized benefit?
 

A: It’s hard to imagine that a government program serving more than 46 million Americans each month is considered severely underutilized. But that’s the reality of the federal Food Stamp Program when it comes to serving seniors.

Nationwide, food stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) reaches around 80 percent of those eligible, but the numbers are much slimmer among the seniors, age 60 and older. Recent statistics indicate only 39 percent of eligible seniors receive SNAP benefits. 

There are a number of reasons for the lack of participation. Some seniors are too embarrassed or too proud to apply. Others think that if they receive SNAP they will be taking food benefits away from others (which they won’t). Some think it is too difficult to apply for SNAP, and others don’t even know the program exists.

With all that said, here’s a run down of which seniors are eligible for SNAP, what they get and how they can apply.

 

Who’s eligible?

For seniors to get SNAP, their “net income” must be under the 100 percent federal poverty guidelines. So, households that have at least one person age 60 and older, or disabled, their net income must currently be less than $958 per month for an individual or $1,293 for a family of two. Households receiving TANF or SSI (except in California) are also eligible.

Net income is figured by taking gross income minus allowable deductions like medical expenses that exceed $35 per month out-of-pocket, and shelter costs (rent or mortgage payments, taxes and utility costs) that exceeds half of the household’s income.

In addition to the net income requirement, a few states also require that a senior’s “assets” be below $3,250, not counting the home, retirement or pension plans, income from SSI or TANF, and vehicle (this varies by state). Most states, however, have much higher asset limits or they don’t count assets at all when determining eligibility.

The SNAP pre-screening tool at www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns can help seniors, and their family members, figure out if they qualify.

To apply, seniors or an authorized representative will need to fill out a state application form, which can be done at the local SNAP office or it can be mailed or faxed in, or in many states it can be completed online.

If eligible, benefits will be provided on a plastic card that’s used like a debit card and accepted at most grocery stores.

Depending on the person’s financial situation, the amount of SNAP a beneficiary may be eligible for will range between $15 and $189 per month as an individual, or $15 to $347 for a family of two.

To learn more or apply, contact your local SNAP office - call 800-221-5689 for contact information or visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap.

 

Produce coupons

In addition to SNAP, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is another underused program that provides coupons that can be exchanged for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs.

This program is currently available in select counties in 43 states, seven Indian reservations, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to seniors, age 60 and older, with gross monthly household incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty line, which is currently below $1,800 for individuals, or $2,426 for a family of two. For more information visit www.fns.usda.gov/sfmnp or call 703-305-2746.

 

Other programs

Seniors that are eligible for food assistance may also be eligible for a host of other programs that can help pay for medications, health care, utilities and more. To locate these programs, visit benefitscheckup.org, or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.

 


Senior organizations that appeal to conservatives
July 22, 2014


Q: Can you recommend any advocacy organizations for seniors other than AARP? I cut up my AARP card a few years back when they supported Obamacare, and am now looking for another organization that better represents me.
 

A: There are actually quite a few senior advocacy organizations out there promoting themselves as conservative alternatives to AARP. While AARP, with a membership of almost 38 million, is by far the biggest and most powerful advocacy group for people age 50 and older, there are millions of older Americans that don’t like or agree with their stance on various issues. Many believe AARP leans too far to the left despite its stated nonpartisan nature.

For seniors that are anti-AARP, there are numerous conservative leaning groups that you can join that may better represent your views, and most of them offer discount benefits too. Here are several to look into.

The Seniors Coalition: Established in 1990, this nonprofit organization has around four million supporters. Their key issues are to protect Social Security benefits, save Medicare, repeal Obamacare, eliminate the death tax and reform the Social Security COLA system. Members also get access to deals on travel, shopping, car insurance and a discount healthcare program. Annual membership fees to join run $10 for one person per, or $13.50 per couple. To learn more visit Senior.org, or call 202-261-3594.

60 Plus Association: Established in 1992, this nonprofit group that claims over 7.2 million supporters, believes in smaller government and lower taxes. Their top priorities include the fight to end the inheritance tax, and taking steps to help save social security for future generations. There’s no membership fee to join 60 Plus, but they do take donations for those who want to support their effort. They also don’t offer discounts to their members. 60plus.org, 703-807-2070.

American Seniors Association: Open to all ages, this for-profit group stands on what they call the five foundations of security for America’s seniors. These include rebuilding the national values respecting seniors, Social Security and Medicare reform, tax code reform, and control of government overspending. Fees to join run $15 per year, and members receive access to a variety of discounts on travel, health care, office supplies and more. AmericanSeniors.org, 800-951-0017.

Association of Mature American Citizens: With more than one million members, this for-profit organization was started in 2007 for people age 50 and older. Their mission is to help seniors fight high taxes, reduce excessive government involvement in our day-to-day lives, and preserve American values. They also offer member discounts on auto insurance, travel, vision, dental, prescription drugs, and much more. Membership fees run $16 per year, or less if you join for multiple years. Amac.us, 888-262-2006.

The National Association of Conservative Seniors: Founded in 2012, this for-profit organization emphasizes two key missions. One is to provide members, age 60 and older, with services and benefits that include discounts on travel, quality of life opportunities, better insurance and financial programs at competitive prices, and savings on household goods, food, and fun. And the second is to uphold conservative values in the United States.

Membership is free the first year, but costs $12 the second year. Or, for $5 per month you can become a “Gold Patriot” member and receive their “Click to Call” feature, which gives members direct connection to government officials. Naocs.us, 800-570-7769.

 

 

 

 Milwaukee events  |  Waukesha events  |  Washington Co. events Ozaukee Co. events Milwaukee news  |  Waukesha Co. news Washington Co. News  |  West Bend Daily News  |  Waukesha Freeman | Ozaukee Co. News Graphic | Oconomowoc Enterprise