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Older Nevadans May Be Missing Out on Thousands in Benefits

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022   

Advocates for lower-income adults in Nevada say many are leaving money on the table -- hundreds of dollars a month, in some cases -- because they may not know about certain government benefits, or that they may qualify for them.

People can search more than 2,000 programs, free of charge, on the website BenefitsCheckup.org or can call a national helpline.

Simona Combi, is public relations manager for the National Council on Aging, which created the online tool.

"Older adults usually don't think that they are eligible, or they don't even know about the benefits, or they don't know how to apply," Combi outlined. "Some benefits are complicated to apply for."

According to the Elder Index, the average single, older adult in poor health needs more than $2,100 a month to cover rent, food and medications in Nevada, but the average Social Security benefit is only about $1,600 a month.

Many low-income adults qualify for programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but also for lesser-known benefits. These might include the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Medicare Savings plan.

Nolga Valadez, benefit services outreach manager for Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas, uses the Benefits Checkup tool to help food-bank clients save money.

"When they come to us and then, we tell them about the Medicare Savings Plan, they have no clue that $170 can come back to their pockets," Valadez explained. "It's a lot of money for people that are on a fixed income."

The Affordable Connectivity Program is another example of a benefit that often goes unused. Eligible older adults can apply to get $30 off their internet service bill, and $75 a month if they live on tribal lands. People can also get a $100 discount on the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.

Disclosure: The National Council on Aging contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Civil Rights, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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