The cost of living in Delaware is slightly above average. However, this is balanced by the existence of many programs set up to assist challenged seniors who live in the state. Assistance is provided to cover things like medical care, dental care, transportation, etc.
State Resources for Seniors
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) provides resources for seniors through the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. Several resources are funded by the department directly or indirectly and provide comprehensive services for seniors. This resource repository is maintained on the DHSS website at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dsaapd/.
Seniors in the state of Delaware have several places they can turn to for dental care.
The Delaware Technical Community College offers free teeth cleaning services to all residents. Afterwards, eligible seniors can get other dental procedures at reduced cost. The percentage reduction varies by procedure and eligibility is determined by income. Some of the services offered include fillings, simple extractions, oral examinations, etc. Emergency dental services may also be obtained at a reduced rate. Seniors who are not eligible for financial assistance will be referred to a private dentist. More information on the dental program is available at https://www.dtcc.edu/our-campuses/wilmington/dental-health-center.
Westside Family Healthcare is another clinic that provides dental care for seniors. Dental services are available at four health center locations – Dover, Newark, Northeast Wilmington, and Wilmington. The services provided include teeth cleanings, crowns, fillings, and tooth extractions. The clinic collaborates with oral health specialists in the state for more complex services. Various forms of financial aid can be gotten through the clinic. Westside Family Healthcare also offers a sliding scale payments structure that relies on the beneficiary’s income to determine payment fees. For more information, visit https://www.westsidehealth.org/resources/financial-assistance/.
Seniors can also get assistance from the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center (HJMC). At HJMC, seniors can get a wide range of dental services to help their oral health. The center accepts most insurance providers. However, seniors without insurance can still get treatment and pay reduced charges, based on their income levels. Interested seniors can visit https://www.hjmc.org/ for more details.
Seniors can get financial assistance for medical care through the federal Medicare program. This is a low-cost insurance program that helps challenged seniors get access to discounted medical services. Depending on the choice of coverage plan, the premiums may be different, as well as the level of services covered. Some Medicare plans cover Doctors’ visits, medical procedures and prescription medication.
Low-income seniors can also get help in buying medication through the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program (DPAP). This program helps pay for prescription medications for seniors whose income is below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. To determine if your household is below the poverty line, you can make use of the updated 2023 Delaware Federal Poverty Level calculator. If the cost of the medication exceeds 40% of the senior’s income, they can get assistance as well. Up to $3,000 of financial assistance is available annually per beneficiary. Beneficiaries must pay at least $5 or 25% of the prescription costs. More information is available at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dmma/dpap.html.
Seniors may qualify for the Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) which helps pay the monthly Medicare Part B premiums. The state also offers a Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program that pays some or most of the Medicare Part D premiums and prescription drug cost SLMB eligible seniors are automatically enrolled in the LIS program. For further details, visit https://insurance.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2022/04/DMAB_FinancialAssistance.pdf.
Several Community Health Centers available in the state can attend to the needs of seniors, even if they are uninsured. These health centers use a sliding fee payment structure and charge fees determined by the senior’s income level. A directory of these Community Health Centers can be found at https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/chs/chsservicecenters.html/.
Charities and Organizations
The Salvation Army is one of the most popular charity organizations in the United States. They offer several services to senior residents, helping to ensure continued dignified living. Mid-day meals are provided, along with transport assistance and even specialized housing at certain places. Interested seniors can visit https://easternusa.salvationarmy.org/eastern-pennsylvania/meet-the-greatest-need/ for more information.
The Catholic Charities is another charity that provides assistance to seniors in Delaware. The organization provides emergency housing when necessary. Food assistance is also provided to help seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle. The food materials can be gotten by visiting food pantries located across the state. Assistance is also provided to help with things like utility payments, financial literacy, job readiness, etc. Seniors can visit https://www.ccwilm.org/ for further details on the activities of the Catholic Charities.
Seniors over the age of 65 can get financial assistance to help them earn some income. The Senior Community Service Employment Program helps elderly residents by providing training and paying as they gain work experience. This is particularly useful for seniors who are still able to work to earn income. At the end of the training program, assistance is offered to help the seniors find employment where they can put their skills to use. Information on the program can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/employment.html.
Elderly residents of Delaware can also apply for Supplemental Security Income. This is a federal program that provides monthly payments to eligible seniors, with the goal of helping them meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. Residents over the age of 65 can apply for SSI benefits. Seniors can claim these benefits, along with their retirement benefits. However, they must meet eligibility criteria based on their overall income levels. For further information, visit https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/?tl=1.
Seniors can get meal assistance in various forms as several options are provided by the state. The Congregate meals program provides meals for seniors over the age of 60 in a congregate setting. This is often in senior centers, where the meals are distributed to eligible residents. The meals provided are nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of beneficiaries and nutrition counseling is provided as well. The spouses of eligible seniors can also get food through this program, irrespective of their age. More details on the program are available at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/congregate.html.
Home Delivered meals are also available for those who are unable to leave their homes. Hot, nutritious meals are provided for consumption. Cold, bagged meals may also be provided to serve as a meal later in the day. Additional information can be gotten from https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/hdm.html.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides food for seniors so that they can maintain healthy living. The CSFP is a federal funded food program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Assistance is provided to residents over the age of 60, and whose incomes meet the requirements. For further information, visit https://www.fbd.org/program/senior-nutrition/.
Seniors can also take advantage of the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This is a statewide program offered between June and October annually. Fresh fruits, herbs, honey and vegetables are provided to low-income seniors at no cost. Eligible seniors receive a coupon booklet which they can use to claim the food items. Further details can be obtained from https://agriculture.delaware.gov/communications-marketing/seniors-farmers-market-nutrition-program/.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is another program that enables low-income elderly residents purchase food for health and good nutrition. Eligibility is determined by income levels and the beneficiaries are issued a Delaware Food First card, which is an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Every month, funds are loaded into the card to be used for food purchase. The senior can then use the card to purchase approved food items from local grocery and food stores. Seniors can visit https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dss/foodstamps.html for more information.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
Delaware residents, especially seniors in New Castle County have several programs available to help them make repairs to their homes. The Minor Home Repair Program assists eligible seniors who need to make minor repairs to their homes. Funding ranges from $500 to $2,500 and helps make homes safer and more secure. Details can be found at https://www.newcastlede.gov/468/Minor-Home-Repair-Program.
The Architectural Accessibility Program provides grants to assist seniors who need to make modifications to their homes. The modifications are limited to essential things that are crucial for health and safety, as well as medically necessary modifications. The funding offered ranges from $500 to $5,000. For more information, visit https://www.newcastlede.gov/476/Architectural-Accessibility-Program.
Seniors can get assistance for emergency repairs through the Emergency Home Repair Loan Program. This is a 0% mortgage loan program that assists homeowners with making repairs to correct conditions that are dangerous to life, health, safety and property in the home. Some of the qualified repairs include plumbing leaks, damaged roofs, unsafe wiring, etc. The loan amounts vary from $500 to $5,000. Repayment can be spread over as long as 60 months. Seniors can find more information at https://www.newcastlede.gov/470/Emergency-Home-Repair-Loan-Program.
The Senior Home Loan Program is similar to the Emergency Home Repair Loan Program and focuses primarily on seniors over the age of 60. The loan amount also has an upper limit of $7,500. Information on this program is available at https://www.newcastlede.gov/471/Senior-Home-Repair-Loan-Program.
Delaware has a variety of transportation assistance programs designed to help seniors get around the city at little or no cost.
The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) operates bus services around the city and makes provision for reduced fares for seniors who use the bus services.
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) contracts with various agencies to provide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) for senior residents. Specialized transportation services are also available. For more information, visit https://ncc-cares-4seniors-udel.hub.arcgis.com/pages/transportation-services.
A directory of agencies that provide transportation assistance to senior centers around the state can be found at https://www.delawareagingnetwork.org/Transportation.htm.
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund is a collaborative effort between Delmarva and the Salvation Army. The fund helps customers of Delmarva Power who are experiencing hardship by paying of a portion of home energy bills. Funding is gotten from donations of other customers and distributed according to need. More information on the program can be found at https://www.delmarva.com/MyAccount/CustomerSupport/Pages/DE/BillPaymentAssistance.aspx.
The Delaware Energy Assistance Program (DEAP) is the state’s version of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program provides financial assistance to residents who are unable to pay their home energy bills. Grants are provided to help with fuel purchase for heating, electricity bill payment for cooling during the summer, etc. The Crisis Assistance component of the program provides additional assistance to those in need during the winter months to ensure continuous heating is available. Seniors can visit https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dssc/liheap.html to find out more about the program.
Residents of Wilmington in Delaware can also receive up to $1,500 to pay for their outstanding water and sewer bills. This is made possible by the Utility Payment Assistance Program. Seniors who owe at least 3 months of utility bills are eligible for the program and can get relief. Residents can obtain an application form from https://www.wilmingtonde.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/9817/637505392720070000 or apply online at https://www.wilmingtonde.gov/government/city-departments/finance/utility-payment-assistance-program.
Seniors who require additional time to meet up with bill energy payments can apply for the Delmarva Extended Payment Date Plan. The program helps extend the due date of bills so that payments can be made at a later time. An online application can be submitted at https://secure.delmarva.com/MyAccount/MyBillUsage/PayMyBill/Pages/DueDateExtensionForm.aspx.
Grants for Senior Veterans
Veterans in Delaware can get financial assistance from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). This is a program sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides help to veterans who are struggling with housing and utility payments. Through the SSVF program, veterans can obtain funding for rent payments, security deposits, transportation, healthcare, etc. Veterans interested in the services can visit https://delaware.gov/djf/veteranProfile.php?aid=150.
The Delaware Veterans Trust is another avenue for veterans to get assistance. This is a nonprofit organization that offers grants and other forms of financial assistance to pay for healthcare, housing, utilities, etc. More information on the support provided by the Delaware Veterans Trust is available at https://delawareveteranstrustfund.com/.