Financial assistance, benefits available for seniors

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OKLAHOMA CITY - When you're retired, it can be difficult to make ends meet.

More than 25 million Americans over the age of 60 are living with limited assets and incomes below $30,000 a year.

However, there are resources available to seniors in need.

Food assistance: Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously called 'food stamps,' can help pay for groceries. The average monthly SNAP benefit is around $126 per person. Other programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program, Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program may also be available.

Health care: Medicaid and Medicare Savings Programs can help or completely pay for out-of-pocket health-care costs. And there are special Medicaid waiver programs that provide in-home care and assistance.

Prescription drugs: There are hundreds of programs offered through drug companies, government agencies and charitable organizations that help reduce or eliminate prescription drug costs, including the federal low-income subsidy known as "Extra Help" that pays premiums, deductibles and prescription copayments for Medicare Part D prescription drug plan beneficiaries.

Utility assistance: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, along with local utility companies and charitable organizations, provide assistance in lowering home heating and cooling costs.

Supplemental Security Income: SSI provides monthly payments to very low-income seniors as well as people who are blind or disabled. SSI pays up to $733 per month for a single person and $1,100 for couples.

The National Council on Aging has created an easy service to locate and apply for the benefits.

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