Low Income Survivors to Thrivers
NEED FOOD? Contact the USDA National Hunger Hotline by dialing 1-866-3-HUNGRY, 1-877-8-HAMBRE, or texting 914-342-7744.

20 Ways to Reduce Bills and Increase Income

Are you or someone you know struggling to pay bills?  

With the rising cost of rent, mortgages, utilities, transportation, food, entertainment, and other bills, there is no wonder so many Americans are looking for ways to reduce the cost of living.

To keep from guessing what benefits and resources exist to help connect people to discounts, benefits, and services, try connecting to these legitimate benefit screening tools, then apply for each service or support you may qualify for separately.

How to Save $$ on Benefits & Services: A REAL CASE STUDY

An Older Adult Woman with Approximately $1100 in Social Security Retirement Earnings Determined She was Eligible, Applied for, and Received the Following Benefits and Services, saving more than $2,000 per month in free and low-cost services.

She could be eligible for additional services, but these are the services she wanted and needed to live safely at home.

Start your benefit and savings search today by clicking the following online benefit screening tools to tailor the resources for which you may be eligible, and apply for each benefit/service individually. Be sure to keep track of due dates for reporting income and other required information to continue receiving services.

Happy benefit hunting!


Find benefits you may be eligible to receive and where to apply.

Contact your state social service agency for information about state benefit programs and more.

Find the right Social Security benefits.

“BenefitsCheckUp® connects millions of older adults and people with disabilities with benefits programs that can help pay for health care, medicine, food, utilities, and more.”

“PhRMA’s Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT) is a search engine designed to help patients, caregivers, and health care providers learn more about the resources available through the various biopharmaceutical industry programs. MAT is not its own patient assistance program, but rather a search engine for many of the patient assistance resources that the biopharmaceutical industry offers.”

“We offer financial assistance to help people with serious illnesses afford their out-of-pocket treatment costs and improve their quality of life.”

“Our organization has created a simple test for Americans, 65 and older to check their eligibility for Medicaid long-term care.”

“Over 400 programs provide financial assistance for elder care. Help comes from federal, state, and local governments, the VA, non-profits, private organizations, and as many as 50 other agencies.”

Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska of Pexels

20 Ways to Reduce Bills and Increase Income Read More »


With the cost of living on the rise in the U.S., many people are considering a move to a cheaper area.

But what does one need to consider when making such a huge life decision?

It really depends on one’s individual circumstances, but some considerations are:

  • affordable housing
  • jobs
  • wages
  • access to appropriate schools
  • public transportation
  • disability services and supports
  • senior services


City-Data is a great place to start exploring cities around the U.S. Just about everything from crime stats to weather stats can be found on the website. Find out whether or not a city suits your lifestyle before taking the leap to move to an unfamiliar place.


NerdWallet provides a Cost of Living Calculator with a city and salary comparison tool for those wanting to make a move, but for those who want to see if the wages they will earn in the new location will match up with the cost of living in that area, Salary.com also provides a Cost of Living Calculator. A number of cost-of-living calculators are available online for review.


For those who are lower-income or on lower fixed incomes, one may search for open affordable housing waitlists ahead of time, before even considering a move. Such waitlists include low-income apartments and affordable housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, and Public Housing:


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a rental assistance resource page. The HUD Resource Locator is helpful in finding affordable housing by area.


Search for a location, the number of bedrooms, and declare your income to find out the cost of renting an apartment. The Apartment List Rent Calculator will determine how much the average rent is in the area.


For those interested in shared housing, there are many resources available, including:


To determine which agencies may be able to assist with resource navigation support, one may reach out to 211 or 211.org. For older adults, one may reach out to the Eldercare Locator. For aging and disability resource navigation support, HHS.gov is a helpful resource that will connect you to your local agency for further information and support.


Connect with a resource navigator to get rental and deposit assistance. There are a number of government programs and non-profit agencies which may be able to assist with financial support.

  • Local Housing Solutions explains how to navigate the ‘Security deposit and/or first and last month’s rent assistance.
  • NeedHelpPayingBills.com provides helpful information about which organizations may be able to assist with rental/deposit assistance.


Lower-income movers are taking to social media to request crowdfunding assistance from family, friends, and others via social media, as well as requesting assistance from non-profit and government agencies to help with paying for moving expenses.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels



Grayscale Photo of Couple Wearing Face Mass · Free Stock Photo (pexels.com)
Photo Credit: Anna Tarazevich
by Pexels.com


Per Kaiser Family Foundation, “After May 11, 2023, people with traditional Medicare will no longer receive free, at-home tests.” Read more about the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Details on Health Coverage and Access at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Per Medicare.gov email received on 5/5/2023:

Find the latest COVID-19-related information at COVID.gov

Help with ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests

Older adults and people with disabilities who need support with ordering the free at-home tests can contact the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) or the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL, 888-677-1199).  Staff is available to assist you from 8 AM to 9 PM ET Monday through Friday. They can help you learn more about testing options, including by connecting you to accessible instructions and helping with test administration.” 



According to GoodRx Health (Where can you get your free N95 mask?), “you can pick up your free masks at many of the same grocery store and pharmacy chains that provide free COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. government is using the same network of 21 partners — called the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP)  — to distribute masks to the public. It’s also sending masks to some community health centers.”



Emergency Rental Assistance Program | U.S. Department of the Treasury


HUD also provides COVID-19 Resources for Home Owners.


Details on FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Expense Reimbursement Program



Resources for the immigrant community during COVID-19 – United We Dream

In health, wellness, and equity,



Battling the Rising Costs of Food, Gas, and Utilities: Connect & Save Today!

There has been an upward surge in the prices of nearly everything in the U.S.

According to Time.com, inflation remained near a 40-year high in August. While browsing Reddit, Quora, Facebook Help Groups, as well as other social media websites, along with first-hand experience in paying more for the cost of living, it has become apparent that many people who qualify for free and low-cost services are not all connecting to them to save BIG money. For those on limited or fixed incomes, learn how to reduce, or even eliminate, a number of bills.

Before reading further, Benefits.gov has a benefit finder screening tool that helps connect people in the U.S. to services and supports for which they may be eligible. Completing the Benefit Finder may be the quickest and easiest way to find out what you or someone you know may be eligible for. Even those who are in higher income brackets may find helpful services and supports to connect with using this free online screening tool. Older adults may connect to the NCOA Benefits Checkup screening tool to determine what services and supports for which they may be eligible. Find out what Social Security Administration benefits may be available by completing the free online Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). Using these and other free online benefit screening tools are great ways to access information about free and low-cost resources in the U.S..

For those who are not able to meet their food purchasing needs, there are a variety of ways to get free and low-cost food around the country. Do you qualify for SNAP (aka food stamps)? Are you a college student? If so, find out more about SNAP rules for students. SNAP recipients may purchase SNAP-eligible items with free delivery without a PRIME membership, and qualifying government assistance recipients who would like one may be eligible for a half-price Amazon Prime membership.

Although gas costs have risen to record levels across the country, one can find the cheapest gas prices using Gas Buddy’s Gas Price Map. Other vehicle resources may also be located on the website. Some states offer discounted auto insurance for those who are lower income.

For those who are eligible for Medi-Cal, SNAP, TANF, and other public assistance programs, find out how to discount utility and others bills. Many people don’t realize they qualify for free or low-cost cell phone and service, Internet, and discounted electric, gas, and water bills. Instead of paying for cable, people often locate free or low-cost smart TVs and opt for free or low-cost streaming services. In some areas, people can request discounts from their trash and recycling companies. Looking for discounted or even free computers and training?

It is safe to assume that the cost of living will continue to rise, but due to helpful government assistance and other programs, services, and supports, it is possible to reduce our cost of living AND stress by connecting to free and low-cost services and supports around the U.S. for which we may e eligible.

Would you like further support in connecting to free and low-cost resources? Connect with Low-Income Survivors to Thrivers online to discover more ways to save. To speak with someone about local resource information, call 211, or go online. For those who are aging, disabled, and their care providers, contact the Eldercare Locator to connect to services in one’s geographic region. Those who have difficulty connecting to resources due to disability may connect to their regional Center for Independent Living for short-term resource coordination support.

Do you have a question, or would you like to provide free and low-cost resource information to be included at Low-Income Survivors to Thrivers? Please reach me online.

Happy Fall, and Connect & Save Today!

In health, wellness, and equity.

Yours truly, Jamie

Battling the Rising Costs of Food, Gas, and Utilities: Connect & Save Today! Read More »

Finding Benefits and Programs in the U.S.: As easy as 1, 2, 3…

Who knew that there are such quick and simple ways to find benefits and programs for which we may be eligible, simply by completing a few short online benefit screening questionnaires, which are all located on the Low-Income Survivors to Thrivers website.

Let’s take a look at who may benefit from these free, easy-to-complete online benefit questionnaires!

U.S. Benefits

Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government that serves as a centralized educational resource for over 1,000 government benefits.” The Benefit Finder questionnaire at Benefits.Gov “can help you find benefits you may be eligible to receive and direct you to the agency to apply.”

Benefits categories include:

Agricultural Loans; Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability; Business Loans; Disaster Relief; Education Loans; Education and Training; Employment and Career Development; Family and Children Services; Financial Assistance; Food and Nutrition; Grants; Healthcare and Medical Assistance; Housing Loans; Housing and Public Utilities; Immigration and Refugee Assistance; Loan Repayment; Loans; Military: Active Duty and Veterans; Retirement Social Security; Social Security and Retirement; Veterans Loans; Volunteer Opportunities.

Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST)

Find the right social security benefits for you by starting the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) questionnaire, developed by the Social Security Administration. This anonymous survey screens for SSI and SSDI, Social Security Survivors, Special Veterans, and other benefits programs, including:

  • Disability Assistance
  • Family
  • Insurance
  • Medicare
  • Retirement
  • Spouse & Widow(er)
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans


BenefitsCheckUp® is a comprehensive, free online tool that connects older adults with benefits they may qualify for, and is a free service of the National Council on Aging. There are over 2500 benefit programs available nationwide. Find My Benefits will take you to the online questionnaire to determine for which benefits you may be eligible.

Medicaid Eligibility Test / Pre-Screen for Long Term Care: Are you an American senior who is 65 years old and older who is looking for options to help pay for long-term care needs? If the answer is yes, then this test is for you.

The Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator by Paying for Senior Care provides a helpful online questionnaire.


Are you a Veteran who would like to connect to resources? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Resources may be accessed online at MaketheConnection.net.

The National Resource Directory “connects wounded, ill & injured Service members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers with those who support them.”


Are you looking for Low-Income Benefit Programs by State?


Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) created the Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT) to provide a dedicated search engine that allows users to search for financial assistance resources available to them, their loved ones or patients in their lives through the various biopharmaceutical industry programs available for patients who are eligible.”


Are you looking for a government loan? If so, look no further than GovLoans.Gov. Start the Loan Finder questionnaire to find information on loans you may be eligible for. Loan categories include agricultural, business, education, housing, and Veterans loans and loan repayment.

Although these aren’t the only online benefit screening tools and questionnaires available in the U.S., those mentioned here may be helpful in quickly pinpointing resources one may be eligible for, and showing us how to connect to and apply for resources in the U.S.

Happy benefit seeking!

Finding Benefits and Programs in the U.S.: As easy as 1, 2, 3… Read More »

Ready for the 3G Shutdown in 2022?

Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


Cell phones and other devices that rely on the 3G network will stop working. That means that older cell phones won’t be able to make or receive calls, texts, call 911 or use data, and other devices that rely on 3G will stop working.


3G is the third generation of wireless mobile technology. Without getting into specific details of how 3G works, what is VERY important to know is that it is being shut down in 2022. According to the FCC, 3G mobile phones and older 4G phones that don’t support Voice over LTE will be affected.


  • cell phones
  • certain medical devices
  • tablets
  • smart watches
  • vehicle SOS services
  • home security systems
  • other connected products
  • devices that use cellular connectivity as a backup when a wired internet connection goes down


Contact the company that made your device to find out if they will replace the device or offer a discount on an upgraded one that will work on the 4G or 5G Networks. Ensure you have a working 4G or 5G device before the shut-down.


Determine if you may qualify for discounted communications services that will work on upgraded networks, such as 4G or 5G.

The FCC’s Lifeline Program: Lifeline provides subscribers a discount on qualifying monthly telephone service, broadband Internet service, or bundled voice-broadband packages.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps low-income households pay for broadband service and internet-connected devices.

Affordable Connectivity Program Consumer FAQ


Ready for the 3G Shutdown in 2022? Read More »

8 Ways to Stay Healthy, Increase Skillset, and Reduce Isolation

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us, particularly for many older adults who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, especially prior to the COVID-19 vaccine which become available earlier this year. It was equally isolating for a lot of people who sheltered-in-place alone, regardless of age.

Some of us already had digital literacy skills and found familiar ways to connect with those we love without being able to visit each other in person. A number of older adults have reported that they have learned new digital literacy skills, including how to use iPads, computers, smartphones, the GrandPad, email, video chat, Facebook, YouTube, and other modes of communication to help them stay connected to the outside world.

So, how do we stay healthy, increase our skillset, and reduce isolation during one of the world’s largest health crises of our time? Here are some ways people have reported reducing isolation and being productive while staying at home.


Did you miss out on free or low-cost tools to make getting online possible? Determine if you are eligible for low-cost Internet, PCs, laptops and training, free cell phone and service, and a reduced-price Amazon Prime account. Access basic Internet and computer training, and acquire the skills needed to successfully navigate the world’s digital landscape.


Have you thought about becoming an entrepreneur? A number of people have become entrepreneurs after losing jobs or wanting or needing to change careers during the pandemic, picking up business, web development, and other skills that are helpful for business start-ups. Parents who worked from home needed ways to make money from home while caring for children who couldn’t go to school while daycares and businesses were often closed.

People have turned to these and other tools to help them get started.


With in-person schooling not available for long periods of time, people often turned to virtual learning to acquire new skillsets, some with the goal of increasing promotional opportunities at work, and others desiring to learn new skills to start new careers. A number of people have used this time to acquire new hard skills and enhance opportunities for upward mobility in the workplace.


With so many of us stuck at home, for a number of people, it has seemed like a decent time to pursue a college education. As people have lost jobs, it has been a time of opportunity to seek education as a means of getting ahead. The only current tuition-free online degree programs are accessible to people worldwide and are accredited in the U.S. There are fees associated with the degree programs, but they are very low in comparison to other degree programs available in the U.S. University of the People offers a number of certificates, Associate, Bachelor, and Master Degree programs with a focus on Business Administration, Computer Science, Health Science, and Education.

In some states, community college tuition is free for those who are eligible.


OLDER ADULTS may often get a free education in their home state. The resources below discuss free educational opportunities for older adults at colleges and universities in the U.S.

DOROT Classes & Activities

Family Eldercare’s Lifetime Connections Without Walls “is a telephone-based activities program that provides opportunities for older adults to connect with others across the country. We offer social and educational sessions, support groups, and friendly conversation, all from the comfort of home.”

The Senior Center without Walls Program provides on-line learning opportunities for seniors and holds four sessions a year in the Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall with classes listed in a corresponding catalogue.”

Well Connected and Well Connected Español “provide laughs, intellectual stimulation, inspiration, conversation and more, all via groups you can join from home, by phone or online.”


Gyms were closed. People often turned to virtual exercise apps, and dieting tools, such as NOOM to get through the pandemic. Others purchased or used already acquired personal exercise equipment at home to get and keep in shape.

Connect here for additional examples of online exercise classes:

Jewish Family Service San Diego, Exercise with Aviva provided chair exercises from the safety of one’s home.

Silver Sneakers is the nation’s leading community fitness program designed for seniors and has added digital resources to support its members. Check for program eligibility.

The Happiness Effect provides seated stretching.


Many people, including myself, have relied on virtual and phone visits with medical providers. A number of health plans have covered benefits that include virtual services, such as doctor’s visits and therapy via phone, video chat, or other means. Downloading appropriate apps and finding new ways to connect with providers virtually has been the name of the game during the pandemic.


There are exciting ways to cheaply (and even for free!) incorporate digital literacy skills, develop entrepreneurship skills, start a business, acquire hard skills, take classes to increase skill sets, get an education, connect with others using digital technology, exercise remotely, and attend doctor’s appointments without having to leave the home—which are all ways to help reduce isolation and increase wellness and upward mobility during the worldwide crisis that will definitely be noted in the history books.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

8 Ways to Stay Healthy, Increase Skillset, and Reduce Isolation Read More »

COVID-19 Worldwide

Say NO to Unnecessary Medical Bills & Debt

Open Enrollment for Health Insurance Begins. Ready – Set – Go!

Health Insurance Premium Assistance is Available for Those Who Qualify

Emergency Room
Photo Credit by Pixabay at Pexels – Picture of an Emergency Room

According to VeryWellHealth.com (Norris, 2017), with the exceptions of four states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, and The District of Columbia, the federal individual mandate penalty for purchasing health insurance has been eliminated. That being said, with the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) making health insurance more affordable for those who need it, no one needs to get caught in a situation where they are uninsured and end up in a lifetime of debt due to the financial repercussions of a health emergency. Subsidized insurance is available for free or low-cost for those eligible for services through Medicaid/CHIP and the ACA, and you may apply for these programs by linking to the resource information below.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (aka Subsidized Health Insurance)November 1st – December 15th

MEDICAID/CHIPContinuous Open Enrollment for Those Who Qualify for Benefits

MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENTOctober 15th to December 7th

Can’t Afford Medicare Premiums and the Cost of Medication?

Looking for Local Medicare Counseling Assistance?

Contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which is also known by different names in different states.

Do you have Medicare and Medicaid dual eligibility?

If so, check out the benefits of the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) for Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE), determine if there is availability in your location, and determine if the program is right for you.

Medicaid covers services and supports Medicare doesn’t necessarily pay for. If one is eligible for Medicaid, it’s important to educate oneself on the benefits of having Medicaid and Medicare dual eligible benefits. Medicaid covers a number of long-term care services and supports that Medicare doesn’t. Have questions about dual eligibility? Contact SHIP in your state.

See the American Council on Aging’s Answers to All of Your Questions About Medicaid Long-Term Care to find out more about how long-term care Medicaid works.

Complete the Medicaid Eligibility Test / Pre-Screen for Long Term Care if you are 65 years old or older to determine if you may qualify for long-term care Medicaid services.

Say NO to Unnecessary Medical Bills & Debt Read More »

COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Mortgage Resources

Ann O’Connell, Attorney writes about Emergency Bans on Evictions By State | Coronavirus Pandemic at Nolo. Nolo shares information about federal tenant protections, as well as State Eviction Protection by County, discussing holds on utility shut-offs and other notes of importance. Find your state in the chart to determine the information that’s pertinent to your state. For those whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to find and apply for financial assistance to help pay for rent/mortgage in arrears. The information listed below will help identify resources that may be available in one’s geographic area.

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has compiled a list of rental assistance resources and contacts by state and region.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has compiled a list of emergency rental assistance programs by U.S. states, U.S. territories, and Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Find Help with Rent and Utilities

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness provides a Comprehensive Step by Step Guide for People at Risk of Eviction, educating those in need about how to get informed, reach out, apply for emergency aid, claim your pandemic relief, and helps landlords connect to resources to help their tenants in an effort to avoid evictions.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides COVID-19 Resources for Renters and answers common questions that are pertinent to renters.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes VA Assistance to Help Avoid Eviction.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Help for Home Owners and Renters During the Coronavirus National Emergency

HUD also provides information about COVID-19 Resources for Home Owners.

Don’t forget to check out all of the online benefit screening tools for further support in identifying a variety of services and supports available for those who qualify.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Mortgage Resources Read More »

Two people sitting by a computer

What is SNAP and How May it Benefit Those in Need?

Known by different names in different states, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps”, helps lower-income households buy food. Just a few years ago, SSI recipients were not eligible to apply for SNAP benefits. Now, SSI recipients may be eligible for benefits.

For the first time in many years, monthly allotments of SNAP benefits will increase soon. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “has announced a change to the way food costs are calculated. This change is part of a reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which was mandated by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill. Beginning October 1, 2021, households who get SNAP will see an average 25% increase in their monthly SNAP benefits.”

Click on the map of your state for your SNAP State Directory of Resources, and apply online or at your local SNAP office.

To determine if you may be eligible for SNAP benefits:

Interested in shopping for and receiving free home delivery of eligible SNAP EBT food items via Amazon? Shop Groceries on Amazon and Pay with SNAP EBT

  • Free delivery available on minimum purchase
  • No membership required

Have other questions related to SNAP benefits?

Social Security Administration (SSA) SNAP Facts

Nicole Thelan of LowIncomeRelief.com wrote an excellent article entitled, Get More Food Stamps: 95% of People Miss This Trick, in 2018. It’s important to check your state’s SNAP rules, but this article has some helpful suggestions for maximizing SNAP allotments.

Learn More about SNAP benefits.

What is SNAP and How May it Benefit Those in Need? Read More »

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