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‘It’s exceedingly frustrating’: $30B in federal aid for seniors go unused each year

ORLANDO, Fla. — A dollar here a dollar there. While wages for working people have generally outpaced inflation, the same may not be true for people on fixed incomes, including seniors.


“It’s exceedingly frustrating, especially because we know the need is out there,” says Josh Hodges of the National Council on Aging. “The need is growing, with the inflationary cost of and people living on fixed incomes, there’s an increased need out there.”

A recent study by NCOA estimates some $30 billion in federal aid goes unused every year with people not taking advantage of dozens of government programs designed to help people, especially seniors, pay everyday bills.

“A lack of awareness of the programs is a huge issue, people out there don’t know where to get started,” says Hodges.

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Part of the issue is that most of the available programs are distributed through different federal agencies that do not always advertise how to take advantage of the benefits and do not communicate with one another.

Currently, there are programs available for assistance with everything from groceries and electricity to prescription drugs.

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“When it comes to some of the medication benefits, many people think Medicare is free, that when you get on Medicare, everything is free,” says Hodges. “But there are co-pays, deductibles, and of course, prescription prescription drug cost. The prescription drug support plan, which is called Extra Help, is a federal program to help pay for some medications for low-income older adults. And we will often see people saving six, seven, $8,000 a year.”

Click here to see if you qualify for any federal programs.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.