Help for Seniors in Illinois
As one of the largest states in the United States by population, Illinois offers various opportunities for living and activities. The presence of a variety of industries ensures that the state is constantly bustling with activity and there is never really a dull moment. However, with industrialization comes rising costs. To help ease these costs on seniors, especially those with low income, there are several programs available across the state.
State Resources for Seniors
The Illinois Department of Aging is the state’s agency in charge of senior and elderly citizens. The agency maintains a vast repository of available resources to meet any needs and answer all questions that seniors may have. Programs are available to offer various forms of assistance required to eligible seniors. In some cases, these programs are directly administered by the Department of Aging, while other programs may be supported by providing funding to charities that render assistance to seniors. To explore the various resources on aging provided by the department, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/Pages/default.aspx.
Dental Grants and Benefits
SeniorDent is an organization that was founded to provide On-site Dental Care to residents of care facilities. As a dental care organization set up for seniors, SeniorDent provides a wide range of dental services and allows several payment options. Discount services are available to help low-income seniors get adequate care without exhausting their finances. Seniors who wish to find out more about SeniorDent can visit https://www.srdent.com/.
Seniors can also benefit from specially designed dental care insurance plans. These plans are offered at low cost and cover many of the dental services that seniors need to receive. Coverage ranges from 15% of the cost of procedures, to as high as 60% in some cases. The services usually covered include x-rays, root canals, cleaning, crowns, implants, dentures, etc. Discounted dentist visits are also offered by some of the dental plans. In a bid to reduce the financial burden on seniors, some of these dental plans cost as low as $105 per year, while still providing adequate coverage. Seniors can find an insurance policy that suits them by exploring the list of providers at https://medicarewire.com/dental-insurance/state/illinois/.
DentaQuest is a special dental care company that focuses on providing affordable dental care to all. While seniors may receive healthcare coverage from Medicare plans, dental care is often neglected. To solve this, DentaQuest provides cost effective dental solutions to meet the needs of seniors. Emphasis is laid on preventive dentistry, to reduce the likelihood of seniors encountering emergency dental situations. Seniors who wish to get more details on the DentaQuest company can visit https://dentaquest.com/oral-health-resources/adult-dental-benefit/.
Seniors can also get care from Donated Dental Services. This is a network of volunteer dentists that offer free or low-cost dental care to seniors over the age of 65. Eligibility for the program is determined by income levels. Emergency services are not available due to the possibility of encountering waitlists. However, seniors who partake of the program receive comprehensive dental care. For more information, visit https://dentallifeline.org/illinois/.
Seniors in Illinois who are over the age of 65 can get healthcare services through the Medicare program. This is a federal health insurance program that covers different services that seniors may require. Through the Medicare program, seniors can receive help with payment of hospitals stay costs, outpatient care, and prescription drugs, depending on the specific program selected. Spouses of seniors may also receive coverage if over the age of 62 years. For further details on the operation of the Medicare program in Illinois, seniors can visit https://www2.illinois.gov/cms/personnel/benefits/Pages/WhatisMedicare.aspx.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a Medical Benefits program tailored to meet the needs of low-income seniors who reside in the state. This is a comprehensive healthcare program that covers things like doctor visits, hospital care, emergency room stays, prescription drugs, long term care, etc. Applications are open to seniors over the age of 65 whose income and asset values meet the prescribed guidelines. For couples, the total value of countable assets should be less than $3,000 while for a single person it should be less than $2,000 to qualify for assistance. The value of property like the home, a car, personal belongings and some other special items are not considered as part of the asset valuation. Seniors who want to apply for the program can download an application form from https://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/hfs2378h.pdf and submit the filled form to any Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) nearby. A directory of FCRCs can be found at http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?module=12. For additional information on things like income restrictions, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/MedicalClients/health/Pages/benefitsHFS.aspx.
The state also provides assistance by helping seniors fill out applications for healthcare programs. This can be taken advantage of by visiting and of the Senior Health Assistance Program (SHAP) offices around the state. Information on other available healthcare resources can also be gotten at these offices. A full list of the SHAP offices and their respective addresses can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/resources/documents/shap_list.pdf.
The Bridgeport Free Clinic provides medical care to uninsured residents in Chicago. Screening and checkups are carried out, along with treatment regimens to ensure recovery. The clinic also helps seniors apply for suitable insurance plans. Seniors can visit https://bfcuc.mystrikingly.com/ for assistance.
Charities and Organizations
The Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is a charity organization that serves the needs of seniors in the state. Through a variety of programs, assistance is provided to many elderly residents. Visiting programs are organized to check on the welfare of older citizens. LBFE also offers the Food Bag program which delivers staple food items and fresh groceries to seniors. Every bag is packed specially to meet the need of the person who will be receiving it, to ensure maximum nourishment. Emergency weather assistance is provided, connecting seniors with valuable resources to help them cool or heat up their homes as required. For seniors who cannot go out due to the weather, essential food items are delivered to help them stay healthy. Other programs available can be explored at https://lbfechicago.org/.
Catholic Charities is another organization that renders assistance to seniors in need. Emergency assistance is available to help meet the food and financial needs of community members. Catholic Charities also offers affordable housing to seniors who are 62 years and older. While occupying the housing units provided, seniors would still be responsible for carrying out tasks in their own unit. For seniors who require extra care, help could be sought from the Senior Supportive Housing program that is available. More programs and services offered by the Catholic Charities can be checked at https://www.catholiccharities.net/GetHelp/OurServices/SeniorCommunity-BasedServices.aspx.
Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (HOME) is a Chicago-based charity organization that renders essential services to seniors in need. The Upkeep and Repair program helps seniors by providing affordable carpentry, electrical and plumbing repairs to their homes. This allows them to continue to occupy their own homes, rather than move to care facilities. A free shopping bus is also available to help seniors go to nearby stores and pharmacies to purchase food and supplies. The bus is wheelchair accessible, allowing those with reduced mobility to use the service. The drivers help care the purchased items into the home of seniors upon return. Doing so ensures that seniors select food items based on nutritional value, not weight. Additional details on the activities of HOME can be found on their website https://homeseniors.org/.
Senior citizens over the age of 55 who are still able to work can apply for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSE). The program is administered by the Department of Aging and is geared towards helping eligible senior residents find decent employment so they can earn money to meet their needs. Participants receive job-related training to build skills and afterwards get assistance with finding suitable employment. More information on the workings of the program can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/programs/Pages/employ.aspx.
For seniors who are unable to work, help may come in the form of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is a program of the Social Security Administration that helps meet the basic financial needs of aged persons. Cash benefits are provided monthly to help meet the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. The age eligibility for SSI benefits is 65 years. For further SSI benefits information, visit https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/.
Low-income seniors in Illinois can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is a federal program that provides resources for seniors to get access to food items. Eligible seniors receive a debit card known as the Illinois Link Card to which funds are loaded on a monthly basis. This card can be used to purchase approved food items from most grocery stores in the state. Seniors can visit https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30357 to see the income eligibility requirements to apply for SNAP in Illinois. Applications for SNAP can be done online at http://abe.illinois.gov/, or paper applications can be downloaded from https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=86436.
Apart from SNAP, seniors in Illinois can apply for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. The goal of this program is to improve the health of seniors over the age of 60 by supplementing their diets with nutritious food. Eligible seniors receive a food package every month that contains food like pasta, cheese, rice, meat, canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, etc. These items are provided with the intention of helping seniors meet their nutritional demands. Alongside the packages, nutrition education is provided to give beneficiaries an understanding of how the best utilize the items for a healthy diet. For more information, visit https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=31874.
Seniors can apply for either home-delivered meals or group site meals. These are two components of the Elderly Nutrition Program in the state. The group site meals are served in a congregate setting with multiple senior citizens converging at a specified venue to receive food. For those who are unable to leave their homes, meals may be delivered to them at home. Deliveries are done by volunteers who also check on the welfare of the senior and report any potential problems observed. For further information on the Elderly Nutrition Program in Illinois, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/programs/nutrition/Pages/nutrition.aspx.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) helps elderly residents of the state maintain their homes by offering assistance with repairs. Residents who meet the income and property value limits may receive grants through the Home Accessibility Program (HAP) to carry out repairs and modifications on their homes. An example of an accessibility modification covered by HAP is the construction of wheelchair ramps. While IHDA does not directly fund individuals, certain organizations are given the funds to disburse to eligible seniors. For a list of these organizations, visit https://www.ihda.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/HAP-R2R3-Contacts-for-website-1.pdf.
Another way that assistance may be gotten for home repairs is through the federal Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants (Section 504 Home Repair) program. Eligible seniors can get a grant of up to $10,000 to carry out essential home repairs. The qualify for a grant, residents must be at least 62years old. Those under the age of 62 may qualify for a loan of up to $40,000. In the event that very extensive repairs are required, the loan and grant award amounts can be combined for a total of $50,000 of financial assistance. All funding provided must be used to repair or improve the home. More details on the program are available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/il.
Seniors in Illinois who receive Medicaid assistance can choose from several medical transportation providers in the state. Beneficiaries who want to take advantage of this assistance can call First Transit at 877-725-0569. First Transit is the organization in charge of managing all Medicaid transportation providers and will provide a list of available providers for the senior. Once arrangements with the transportation provider have been finalized, First Transit should be called again for trip approval. For more details on how this operates, visit https://www.netspap.com/patients-participants/provider-locator.
There are other transportation providers sponsored by the Department of Aging. Programs have been put in place to help seniors get transport assistance to enable them access medical care, go shopping, visit senior centers, etc. A list of the transportation providers can be found at https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=35567. Phone numbers are provided so that seniors can conveniently call to request services.
Seniors in the Chicago area can take advantage of the Chicago Department of Family & Support Service’s Transportation program. This program is offered as a joint effort with Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Taxi Access Program (TAP) to provide specialized transportation assistance for eligible seniors. Door-to-door transportation is provided at reduced rates, allowing seniors to get groceries, go to medical appointments, visit friends, etc. and avoid isolation. Emergency transportation services are also available for seniors in life-threatening situations who have no other means of getting to a suitable medical facility. More information on the transportation assistance programs in Chicago can be found at https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fss/supp_info/senior_transportationprograms.html.
Residents of Illinois may qualify for the Seniors Ride Free Transit Benefit. This is a program open to seniors aged 65 years and older that allows them to ride on fixed-route transit systems for free. Application approval is subject to applicants meeting income eligibility guidelines which can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/BenefitsAccess/Documents/BAA-Flyer.pdf. Only online applications are accepted for this program, and the process can be started by visiting https://webapps.illinois.gov/AGE/BAA/BaaStart.aspx.
Help with Bills
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help seniors pay for their home energy bills. Eligible seniors receive credit assistance to offset all or most of their energy bills, especially those associated with heating during winter. Eligibility for LIHEAP aid is usually determined by income levels. Furthermore, assistance may be provided to pay for water and sewer bills when the home of an elderly resident has been disconnected from the utilities or an arrearage of $250 or more is owed. To get this assistance, seniors must apply for the Low Income Household Water Assistance (LIHWAP) as they complete their LIHEAP application. Details on how to apply for help can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/CommunityServices/UtilityBillAssistance/Pages/HowtoApply.aspx.
Additionally, heating assistance may be gotten through the Share the Warmth program. A credit of up to $200 can be applied to past due gas bills for customers of Peoples Gas.
Seniors in Chicago may also qualify for the Utility Billing Relief program. This program gives a 50% discount on water and sewer bills. Debt forgiveness may also be secured for the utility account to clear off all arrearages. Information on this program and others is available at https://www.cedaorg.net/find-services/gas-and-electric/.
Grants for Senior Veterans
Military veterans who reside in Illinois may qualify for admission into any of the Veterans’ Homes in the state. Veterans who are admitted into the homes receive medical care to meet their needs, balanced nutrition plans and meals to ensure that they remain healthy, etc. A monthly maintenance charge may be charged, based on the current income of the veteran seeking assistance. However, an inability to pay for the cost of care will not prevent a veteran from being admitted. These homes help provide a conducive environment for veteran aging while maintaining healthy living conditions and social life. The addresses of the various Illinois’ Veterans’ Homes, along with eligibility requirements can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/services%20benefits/homes/Pages/Default.aspx.