With the onset of age, older people tend to focus on their financial stability before making the important decision of retiring. Unfortunately, many seniors today are riddled with debt. The rising cost of healthcare, housing, and food coupled with limited social security has made the prospect of retirement for seniors difficult.
Currently, senior citizens experience debt in the following fields:
- Household Debt: An increase in debt from 41.5% in 1992 to 51.9% in 2010 to 60% in 2016.
- Credit Debt: As recently as 2016, 29.2% of senior citizens in households owed money on a mortgage, home equity line of credit, or both.
- Medical Debt: The Employee Benefit Research Institute (ERBI) published a study revealing that an older couple retiring in 2017 required $280,000 in savings to cover medical costs in the future. Furthermore, the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that 1 in 4 seniors are near bankruptcy.
While these issues may be prevalent, that isn’t to say there aren’t viable options to reduce the burden of debt. As we continue to explore further, we’ll break down some of the options to tackle insurmountable debt.
Debt Relief and Credit Reduction Resources
Here are several debt relief and credit reduction options that will have you saving money – and hopefully resolving any financial burdens placed upon you:
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program was a policy program developed by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) with the purpose of guaranteed energy reduction in households of lower-income. To achieve this, the program focuses on weatherization upgrades in the home, which allows homeowners to save on average over $283 dollars. The eligibility for this program will give preference to individuals over the age of 60, or families that have at least one member with a disability.
Medicare is the national healthcare program that lessens the burden of medical debt amongst the senior population. Created in 1966 under the Social Security Administration, Medicare is applicable to any American 65 and older, or anyone that has a disability. This federally subsidized program is broken into four Parts: A, B, C, and D. Each part covers a specific aspect of your medical needs.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
For any low-income individual, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is one of the largest federally funded nutrition programs in the United States. SNAP allows users to utilize a card to purchase approved foods at certified food stores. Eligibility for SNAP benefits will vary according to each state, and it will be based on income, resource, and housing requirements (among other things). Your state’s local office may impose specific requirements for the elderly and/or disabled.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) was developed to assist low-income seniors (minimum age of 60 years old) with their nutritional intake. The program’s goal is to give seniors access to proper sources of nutrition such as locally grown fruits and vegetables. In addition, the SFMNP serves to foster the growth of community-centered agricultural programs alongside farmers’ markets and roadside stands. Besides having an age requirement, in order to qualify, those who apply must have a household income not in excess of 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines.
Single Family Housing Repairs and Loans Grants
The Single Family Housing Repairs and Loans Grants, or otherwise recognized as the Section 504 Home Repair Program, is a federal assistance program geared towards repairing and modernizing homes belonging to low-income families. The Section 504 Home Repair Program offers a viable means of assistance through loans and grants. To qualify and receive a loan from the program, an individual must be of low-income status. Subsequently, only individuals over the age of 62 with a lack of resources to repay a loan are eligible for a house repair grant. The maximum loan and grant amount provided is $27,000 and $7,500, respectively.
A simple, yet effective means of tackling debt burden is to craft a budget that tracks all of your monetary gains and losses. The proper way of creating a budget that suits you is ensuring that you list your monthly income alongside the expenses. Following this, it is up to the individual to decide what is their priority and where do they wish to cut on expenses, and what percentage of their paychecks will go towards savings, personal expenses, and bills.
Senior Community Service Employment Program
For those seeking to escape the boredom of retirement, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) offers an opportunity to earn money post-retirement. Individuals age 55 and older can partake in part-time community service training programs that guarantee the national minimum wage along with at least 20 hours of work per week. Basic requirements for this program require that the individual be unemployed and have a household pre-tax annual income that must be 125% or less of the Federal poverty level.
Emergency Food Assistance Program
If you struggle with meeting your daily nutritional intake, then look no further than to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). With the TEFAP, thousands of low-income Americans across the United States are supplied with nutritious USDA quality foods for free. The total amount of food rations distributed is based on the number of low-income and unemployed citizens per state. All food items provided by the U.S Department of Agriculture will be handled to local food agencies, which distribute items directly to the population. To see if you qualify, please click on the link below:
If you are struggling to improve your credit score as a result of debt, then it is crucial to know that there are non-profit credit counseling organizations that could lend support in times of need. With a credit counselor, you’ll be able to gain a broad financial review that helps you regulate your financial burden. Furthermore, a credit counselor is able to engage directly with debt collectors in cases of extreme financial burden where a senior requires a proper debt management program.
When out of options, bankruptcy may be the final choice for many seniors. Although there’s a negative perception surrounding the idea of bankruptcy, the potential long-term benefits of resolving your financial crisis far outweighs the cons of the short-term. Seniors have the option of choosing between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. With Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, your personal assets are liquidated in order to absolve you of your debts, while allowing room for long-term credit rebound. In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a debt repayment is established for a period of time, which halts foreclosure proceedings and keeps your assets safe from creditors.