It's another hot summer and many older people are trying to figure out how to pay for air conditioning, as well as food and medicine. And when the seasons change, millions of these same seniors will probably need help staying warm, with home heating oil costs expected to reach record highs.
For many older people this can be a life or death issue. This was tragically revealed during the heat wave of 1995, when 485 people died in a major Midwestern city in one week, the vast majority of whom were poor older people who could not afford to pay the utility bills to cool their apartments or were without air conditioning altogether.
BenefitsCheckUp® can help seniors with their energy costs. Developed and maintained by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), BenefitsCheckUp is a free online service that helps older Americans find and enroll in benefits programs that help with vital needs including heating bills, housing, prescription and medical costs, meal programs and tax relief.
By simply visiting Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps people with limited income and resources pay for their utilities, and get help applying for the program.
"Older people are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures, making both adequate air conditioning and heat critical," said Stuart Spector, NCOA Senior Vice President. "Millions of older Americans on fixed incomes qualify for energy assistance and are not taking advantage of LIHEAP. BenefitsCheckUp can help seniors find out if they're eligible for this essential help."
According to findings of a comprehensive survey in 2005 by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), 92 percent of the elderly consider LIHEAP very important to helping them meet their energy costs. Today, with costs escalating on all fronts, the urgency for LIHEAP is growing, with members of Congress calling on President Bush to release funds for the program.
BenefitsCheckUp is free and confidential and can be used by seniors, their adult children, caregivers or local organizations to determine their eligibility for LIHEAP and get assistance in applying - all by filling out a simple questionnaire online.
Since its launch in 2001, BenefitsCheckUp has helped more than two million seniors and those who care for them find more than $6 billion in benefits. The free online service has more than 1,550 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
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