As a state that had several massive industries, Michigan has many elderly residents who spent their working life in these industries. With the exit of several big names, the cost of living dropped to a large extent, but this also affected the financial resources available to seniors in the state. Different programs have been established to help meet the needs of those who may be facing challenges of various forms. All of these have the goal of making life better for the population of older residents.
State Resources for Seniors
The Michigan state government provides several resources which can help seniors locate relevant sources of assistance. The government also funds and administers certain programs, or partners with local charities to offer some aid programs for seniors in the state. These resources for seniors can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/assistance-programs/healthcare/seniors.
Dental care is one of the biggest challenges faced by senior citizens, yet oral health is extremely important.
Seniors in Wayne County can visit Advantage Health Centers. This is a medical organization that operates in several locations in the Detroit area. Dental services are available on site and include cleanings, crowns, oral surgery, fillings, etc. Emergency dental care is also provided by Advantage Health Centers. Operating hours are 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. For more information, visit https://ahcdetroit.org/.
Baker College of Clinton Township provides low-cost dental services to the financially challenged residents of the area. Although services are not free, the cost is much lower than the regular prices. This brings the cost down to the affordable range of low-income residents, enabling them access dental care. Details on this dental program can be found at https://www.baker.edu/about/get-to-know-us/news/low-cost-dental-services-available-at-baker-college-of-clinton-township/.
Cherry Health is another clinic that offers dental services. Operating from 8 locations in the state, this clinic provides a wide range of dental services, including urgent care. The staff of the clinic provide comprehensive dental care, ensuring that the best results are delivered. For more details, check https://www.cherryhealth.org/services/dental/.
Smile Michigan hosts a repository of all free and low-cost dental clinics in the state. These are sorted by county location and can be found at https://www.smilemichigan.com/resources/free-reduced-fee-dental-programs-in-michigan/.
The MI Health Link Program is an initiative that links Medicaid and Medicare resources. These two programs were independently set up and can help seniors, but with this new link, the process is made even easier. Seniors enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare receive assistance in managing their healthcare plans, which can lead to reduced costs for them. MI Health Link allows seniors get access to low-cost medical care, provides assistance with purchasing medication and subsidizes the cost of additional care that may be required. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Resources (MDHHS) and more information can be gotten from https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/doing-business/providers/integrated.
Holland Free Health Clinic (HFHC) is a non-profit healthcare organization that can help low-income and uninsured seniors. HFHC provides medical care and treatment to seniors for free, along with follow-up services required. Apart from providing free treatment, the clinic helps the elderly get access to medication at reduced cost. This is done to help ensure the health and wellbeing of seniors in the community. Services are available to seniors whose income falls below 200% of the federal poverty level. If you want to determine whether your household is living below the poverty level in Michigan, you can use the Federal Poverty Level calculator updated for 2023. For more information, visit http://www.hfhclinic.org/.
The Boyne Area Free Clinic offers healthcare services to residents of Michigan who are experiencing hardship. This clinic focuses on providing dental care, eye examinations and hearing tests. Seniors can come in to get corrective procedures done for a better quality of life. Other services are also available, including laboratory tests. The clinic operates only on Fridays and as such does not provide emergency care services. Further details on the clinic can be obtained from http://www.boyneareafreeclinic.com.
Other free and charitable clinics in Michigan can be located on the Free and Charitable Clinics of Michigan’s website https://www.fcomi.org/.
Charities and Organizations
Senior Neighbors is an organization with a network of volunteers that come together to provide help for elderly residents in need. Based in Kent County, this organization works towards ensuring that seniors can continue to live independent and self-sufficient lives. Home maintenance services are offered to help remediate minor issues around the home. This includes services like plumbing, carpentry, electrical repairs, etc. Seniors with limited financial resources are connected to low-cost housing options which help ease the financial burden on them and prevent homelessness. When suitable housing is located, moving services are provided to ensure that the individual settles in comfortably. Transportation services are also provided to facilitate mobility. Seniors can get free or discounted rides to various locations around the county to place like medical appointments, senior centers, grocery stores, etc. Many other services are offered by Senior Neighbors. To get a full overview, visit https://seniorneighbors.org/.
Catholic Charities of Michigan is another charity that helps seniors in the state. Many services are in place to ensure that seniors can live healthy lives in a comfortable manner. Food assistance is provided via pantries, socialization is made possible by organizing various events and programs to bring seniors together. Transport assistance is offered as well to enable seniors get to medical appointments. Financial assistance may also be gotten to pay for things like rent, utilities, and other pressing needs. For more information, visit https://ccsem.org/.
The Salvation Army is yet another well-known charity in the state. This faith-based charity offers support to seniors facing all kinds of challenges. Seniors can get temporary accommodation, food, clothes, financial support, etc. from the Salvation Army. All this, at no cost at all. The charity also partners with the state on the provision of several state-run programs. Seniors can visit https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/emi for more details.
Michigan residents over the age of 65 can apply for State Disability Assistance (SDA). This program provides cash payments to eligible seniors who live in Michigan. Assistance is provided to help the elderly and disabled meet basic needs and pay for essential services. The amount awarded varies but is determined on a case-by-case basis. Eligibility for the program is usually based on income and asset limits. Social security benefits, veterans’ benefits, rental income, etc. are counted as part of the income for eligibility determination. Applicants must also have an asset value of not greater than $15,000; including investments, retirement plans, trusts, etc. Interested seniors can find full details of the application criteria at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/assistance-programs/cash/sda. All payments are made through the Michigan Bridge Card which is a special debit card issued to seniors receiving benefits. Details on the use of this card can be found by visiting https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/mdhhs/Folder1/Folder64/MI-EBT-BR06-ENG.pdf.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help elderly people who are financial challenged. This program is funded by federal taxes and gives funds to assist seniors in meeting their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. SSI is open to seniors over the age of 65, so long as they meet income restrictions and other requirements. The amount of money given to each senior varies but is usually dependent on how much income and assets the person has, against the financial needs identified. For more information, visit https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/.
Seniors are also encouraged to visit local charity organizations around them to ask if they can receive financial assistance when faced with hardship.
Michigan provides the Food Assistance Program (FAP) which helps low-income households purchase food. FAP is the state’s version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program and provides benefits every month for use in purchasing food. These benefits are put on a card known as the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Seniors over the age of 60 can also participate in a special component of FAP. This is the Restaurant Meal Program. Unlike FAP that requires beneficiaries to purchase approved food items from grocery stores, this program allows seniors to buy already prepared food from participating restaurants. Seniors can find more information at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/RMP_Restaurant_Info_711226_7.pdf, as well as a list of participating restaurants at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/-/media/Project/Websites/mdhhs/Assistance-Programs/Food-Assistance/Restaurant-Meal-Program/MI-RMP-Restaurant-List.pdf.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The State Emergency Relief (SEF) program provides financial assistance through a variety of organizations. Emergency assistance is provided to solve various pressing needs, including making home repairs. This comes in very useful for seniors whose current home conditions pose a threat to their health and safety. Depending on the type of repairs, grants may be $1,500 or up to $4,000. Details on this program can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/assistance-programs/emergency-relief/home-repairs.
The Single Family Home Repair Loan and Grant program helps low-income Michigan residents who have no other way of obtaining assistance. This program provides financial aid in the form of loans to seniors under the age of 62, for the purpose of home repairs. Seniors aged 62 and above may qualify for grants under the program. Loans have a $40,000 limit and are repayable over 20 years with a fixed 1% interest rate. Seniors who receive grants can get a maximum of $10,000 and must continue to reside in the home for at least 3 years after receiving assistance. The funding is provided to help repair homes, remove health hazards, modify the homes to make them more accessible, etc. Interested seniors can visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/mi for further information on the program.
Habitat for Humanity helps older individuals by raising funds for home repairs. These funds are usually to cover the costs of materials needed to repair the home. Labor is done by volunteers who come in to carry out light repairs with the items available. In some cases, resources and labor are provided to build a new home from scratch. The organization also has stores where seniors can come to purchase furniture and other home appliances and reduced prices. For more information on Habitat for Humanity in Michigan, visit https://www.habitatmichigan.org/.
Hope Network provides special transport services for the elderly. The organization uses modified buses which allow accessibility for challenged passengers and wheelchair users. Rides are provided to get seniors to places of employment, medical appointments, social gatherings, etc. Door-to-door service is available as well, allowing seniors to get one-on-one assistance to their destinations. The fares vary and may be charged per ride or per month, depending on the payment program selected. The drivers have specialized training and can render services as needed. Seniors can get rides from as early as 5am, until midnight. The handbook for riders on the Hope Network buses can be found at https://cms.hopenetwork.org/media/Transportation-Handbook-Update-7_11_16.pdf.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) services to Medicaid recipients. The program pays for rides to medical appointments and doctors’ visits. Assistance is provided to help seniors get access to quality care, rather than suffering because they are unable to get to the hospital. However, emergency services are not provided. In cases of emergency, seniors are required to call the emergency number. More details on the transport arrangements are available at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d640bc39b0edd00018ffc53/t/5e66809bb7c6ef5fcda1bd8c/1583775914089/Brochure_MI_DHHS.pdf.
Seniors can get discounted transportation services provided by the Detroit Department of Transportation. These services are available to seniors over the age of 65 who have a reduced fare card. To get this card, seniors can download and fill the application form at https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitmi.localhost/files/2020-04/Reduced%20Fare%20Card%20Application%20%28English%29.pdf. With this card, elderly riders can take bus trips and pay as low as 25% of the full bus fare. For more information on the reduced fare offers, visit https://detroitmi.gov/departments/detroit-department-transportation/transportation-fares.
Other transportation options in the state can be explored using the search tool at https://www.myride2.com/.
Help with Utility Bills
Michigan seniors can apply for the State Emergency Relief (SER) program to get help with meeting emergency needs. SER provides funds to help seniors pay for their heating bills and utilities. The program focuses on helping low-income seniors, providing solutions for conditions that threaten their health and safety. SER is offered by the state government, in collaboration with non-profit organizations in the state. For information on the operation of the program, visit https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/assistance-programs/emergency-relief/overview/ser.
The Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) administers programs across the state to help challenged residents make payments for their energy bills. The state requires that seniors first exhaust their chances of using the SER fund before applying for MEAP assistance. Details on the MEAP can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/consumer/energy-assistance, while a list of providers can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/consumer/energy-assistance/2020-meap-grant-program-fact-sheets.
Qualified seniors may also receive a Home Heating Credit. This is a form of financial aid given to help settle heating bills in the cold winter months. To take advantage of this credit, seniors must apply latest by the 30th of September each year. The application form can be gotten from https://www.michigan.gov/treasury.
The Heat and Utilities program provides eligible low-income seniors with assistance for the settlement of their bills. The payments usually include enough money to settle utility bills for at least 30 days. Seniors who benefit from this program are however expected to pay a portion of the bills themselves. The minimum payment is determined by the household size. A full breakdown can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/assistance-programs/emergency-relief/energyweatherization/right-links/heat-and-utilities.
Utility companies in the state give consideration to special categories of residents who are faced with financial challenges, including the elderly. Seniors who notify their utility companies of the challenges faced may get a special payment plan set up for them to delay disconnection from service. Some companies may even forgive a portion of the outstanding utility bills.
Assistance for Senior Veterans
Veterans in Michigan can apply for financial assistance from the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF). This fund provides aid to help veterans and their families survive urgent financial situations. The money provided is intended to be used for short-term needs and pressing issues. Senior veterans can apply from their counties. A list of the MVTF offices across the state can be found at www.michiganveterans.com. Alternatively, a call can be placed to 1-800-MICH-VET.
Other valuable resources for veterans in the state can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/reinventretirement/PDFs/Veterans.pdf.