Survivors to Thrivers
PREPARE FOR THE 3G SHUT-DOWN IN 2022: Visit NCLER and the FCC.

CONSIDERING A MOVE TO A CHEAPER AREA TO SAVE MONEY?

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

RESEARCH U.S. CITIES BEFORE YOUR MOVE

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.

WHAT IS THE COST OF LIVING IN THE AREA YOU ARE CONSIDERING MOVING TO?

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.

SEARCH FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING WAITLISTS IN THE U.S.

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:

OTHER AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING RESOURCE INFORMATION

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.

RENT CALCULATORS

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.

SHARED HOUSING

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

WHERE TO FIND RESOURCE NAVIGATION SUPPORT

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.

PAYING FOR THE FIRST MONTH’S RENT & RENTAL DEPOSITS

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.

HOW TO PAY FOR THE MOVE

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.

ADDITIONAL READING

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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

OLDER ADULTS

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.

VETERANS

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.”

STATE PROGRAMS

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

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR MEDICATION

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.”

GOVERNMENT LOANS

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!

Ready for the 3G Shutdown in 2022?

Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

WHY IT MATTERS

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.

WHAT IS 3G?

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.

WHAT DEVICES USE THE 3G NETWORK?

  • 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

HOW TO PREPARE

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.

FOR LOWER-INCOME CONSUMERS

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

FOR FURTHER READING

8 Ways to Stay Healthy, Increase Skillset, and Reduce Isolation During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us, but 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 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.

DISCOVER LOW-COST DIGITAL LITERACY TOOLS

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.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP – TIME TO START A BUSINESS?

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.

ACQUIRE NEW HARD SKILLS

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.

GET A TUITION-FREE UNIVERSITY DEGREE(S)

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. Click here to learn more.

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

OLDER ADULTS LEARN NEW SKILLS

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.

OLDER ADULTS CONNECT WITH OTHERS & HAVE FUN REMOTELY
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.”

EXERCISE FROM HOME

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 here.

The Happiness Effect provides seated stretching.

ONLINE MEDICAL & MENTAL HEALTH APPOINTMENTS

Many people, including myself, have relied on virtual and phone visits with medical providers. A number of health plans have covered benefits which 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.

SAMPLE TELEMEDICINE OPTIONS FOR THE UNINSURED OR UNDER-INSURED:

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

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 ENROLLMENTOctober 15th to December 7th

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

Looking for Local Medicare Help?

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

Medicare Advocates: Find Medicare and other health-related resources and training provided by the National Center on Law & Elder Rights (NCLER).

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.

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 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/rent in arrears. The information listed below will help identify resources which 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.

COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR HOMEOWNERS

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

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.

Want to Learn More? If so, click here.

Have you or someone you’ve known asked this question?

“What am I going to do this month with just $1200 to live on?

Rent alone for a one-bedroom apartment in many parts of the U.S. costs $1000 or more per month. Many people who live on Social Security Retirement benefits, Social Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), among others, get little more or less than $1000 per month to survive on. So, how is it that we are able to survive on this amount of money each month when our bills cost more than the money we have to spend?

The answer is simple: We don’t! At least, not very easily. But, what we can do is put a whole lot of discounts and free and lower-cost services and supports in place to help make up the difference. So how might we do that?

Low-Income Survivors to Thrivers was developed to be used as a TOOL to determine HOW to reduce the overall costs of living so that those of us who live month-to-month on lower incomes are more easily able to identify ALL of the basic services and supports available so that we begin to thrive rather than just survive, thereby living happier ad healthier lives.

How do we save money, increase our availability of nutritious food, find lower-cost housing, health insurance, transportation, home and child care, low-cost entertainment, and afford ourselves all of the other necessities of life that cost more than we might have to spend each month?

The answers to these questions and links to helpful websites to apply for these services and supports are right here for the taking.

Low-Income Survivors to Thrivers is intended to be used as a Do-It-Yourself online tool, which may be used to determine how to reduce spending, increase savings and wealth, and ultimately, lead to a healthier and happier life. The website may be used by people in the U.S. of all age groups who are lower-income, and a number of resources found on the site may be used by everyone, whether or not they fit into this socioeconomic demographic.

Did you run into a resource that may be posted here for others around the U.S. to benefit from? If so, please contact me to let me know what the resource is so that it may be added to the website.

Let’s share our knowledge of resources and successes, and create better lives for ourselves and those we love and care about in the process!

In Health, Wellness and Equity, Jamie

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

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