Financial assistance for seniors in California

Are you looking for help for a low-income senior who is struggling? Here are some key financial assistance for seniors in the state of California.

3 min read

Retirement should be a time for peaceful relaxation. But no matter how hard we plan, things can go wrong, and life always has a little stress. Financial stress as you age is never fun- but knowing what financial assistance seniors in California can access will help soothe some of those worries and help make for a better, brighter future.

If your senior qualifies for the Medicaid extension, known as Medi-Cal in California, they can access additional healthcare services at a discounted rate. There is also the Area Agencies on Aging and Community-Based Adult Services to lend a hand. To keep seniors independent in their homes as long as possible, you can also find state-based assistance for heating and cooling costs, and programs to make their home safer for them. SNAP and CalFresh can help with food costs, while SSI and senior-focused training programs can help them grow their income.

Where to look for financial assistance for seniors in California

California has many programs to help aging adults (and their families), both at the state and federal levels. Additionally, it pays to think out of the box- programs exist for everything from home utility relief to caregiver support, so it doesn’t always have to be labeled as ‘senior care’ to help stretch the budget and make your finances easier. 

It also pays to be realistic and make a plan together. Being on a fixed income may mean that old spending habits and ‘fun money’ are no longer available. It’s important to make a budget and ensure your special senior understands how to stick to it. 

You may also need to have a candid conversation about why they shouldn’t be shy to use the available services. Many seniors don’t realize they qualify for help or know where to look for it. Many seniors hide their financial distress from their families and feel that utilizing help programs is a shameful thing when it isn’t.

Help with medical expenses

Medical care is a major expense in old age, and abrupt medical needs are unfortunately common. Medicare is often the best place to start for low-income seniors to help cover the costs of prescription medication.

Depending on your income, you may also qualify for the state-level Medicaid expansion program, Medi-Cal. This includes some home care services and support. Additionally, seniors struggling with cognitive decline, but still able to remain at home, should be aware of the CBAS (Community-Based Adult Services) program. You can see exactly what these programs offer, and eligibility limits, on the Social Security Administration website.

There are also independent home care services on offer throughout the state- and some local organizations that help cover the costs. The Seniors Helping Seniors program is also worth considering, as is the Institute on Aging, which works widely within the state, especially within the San Francisco Bay Area Bay. Watch out for local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) programs as well. 

Don’t forget that respite care is also an important part of these programs if you are providing your special senior with day-to-day care.

Property-focused help

Your senior may also be eligible for assistance with property taxes in California. The property tax relief forms are available through your county assessor, and details can often be found online. 

California also has the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help with cooling and heating costs that come with living in the state. These are typically county-specific assistance programs, so you will have to research what’s available in your area. 

Lastly, the Dignity At Home Fall Prevention Program can offer limited help to make living at home safer, too. Some seniors will also qualify for help with maintaining properties through the Section 504 Home Repair program in California. Seniors who are struggling to stay housed should also be aware of the California HUD program.

Staying connected and safe

It’s important to stay connected with family as you age. Low-income seniors may be eligible for the federally-backed Lifeline program, which assists with telephone and internet services.

While it’s never nice to think of needing legal services due to a failure in senior care or mistreatment, the California Bar Association offers information on accessing reduced-cost and even free legal assistance for low-income seniors.

Food assistance

Sometimes it can be tough to make a limited food budget work at all. Let alone getting the balanced and healthy meals your senior needs to stay healthy! Don’t forget that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) works through CalFresh in California. If your senior is eligible for this assistance, they will receive a debit card preloaded to spend towards eligible groceries. 

Supplemental Social Security and Income

How much Social Security benefits your senior will be eligible to receive is based on their work history and payments made into the program. You can get an estimation of the benefits your senior will receive on the Social Security website.  

But don’t forget that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also exists! This additional benefit is available to low-income seniors who meet the threshold to help offset their general costs of living. California’s CalWORKs (TANF) program can provide occasional cash assistance for seniors and cover some basic costs of living.

Just being older doesn’t mean that a senior can’t find fulfilling work, either! The California Department of Aging (CDA), alongside the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), offers work training programs focused on seniors that may be of interest.

California has one of the fastest-growing senior populations in the United States currently. The good news is that there are many programs, both at the state and federal levels as well as through private interest groups, which can help low-income seniors live better, happier lives.