State Assistance Programs for Seniors
Since 2013, the State Department on Aging has been dedicated to helping Connecticut seniors access support services. In addition to assessing the needs of seniors in the state and coordinating services, the department administers a number of programs such as health insurance counseling, home-delivered meals, and respite care. Its Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program aims to improve the quality of life and care for seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living communities.
In the Connecticut General Assembly, the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors was formed in 2016. This non-partisan commission’s work includes the goals of promoting independence and economic security for seniors, supporting livable and accessible communities for seniors, and working to protect older residents from abuse and financial exploitation.
Other state resources available in Connecticut include:
Coalition for Elder Justice in Connecticut: A program of the State Department of Aging, this coalition works to prevent elder abuse and promote the independence and security of vulnerable seniors. Member organizations form action teams to help the coalition fulfill its goals.
CHOICES: Connecticut’s state health insurance assistance program provides information and assistance to residents ages 60 and up. The program’s services include outreach presentation, assistance with Medicare and other health care options, eligibility screenings, and referrals to senior services.
Connecticut Community Care: The largest care management organization in the state, Connecticut Community Care helps seniors to continue living at home. The statewide group assesses the personal situation of each client, meets with family caregivers, and provides options for coordinating care at home. 108 New Park Ave., Franklin. 866-845-2224.
Disabilities Network of Eastern CT: This agency provides services to disabled residents in eastern Connecticut. These include independent living skills training, assistance with installing ramps or stair lifts in the home, and an aging and disabilities resource center to connect seniors with a number of services. 19 Ohio Ave., Norwich. 860-823-1898.
Connecticut Energy Assistance Program: Low-income seniors can qualify for this program to assist with winter heating costs. The program may also cover weatherization upgrades to make the home more energy efficient. CEAP is open to households whose incomes are 60 percent or less of the state’s median income.
Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders: This program is open to Connecticut residents over the age of 65 who meet certain financial eligibility requirements and need assistance with critical needs such as bathing, dressing, and eating. The program helps provide assistance with meal preparation, housekeeping, and other tasks so the applicant can continue living at home.
Connecticut Partnership for Long-Term Care: This state partnership with private insurance companies works to provide Connecticut residents with information about long-term care and insurance. The program holds a number of free public forums to discuss issues related to retirement planning.
Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program: This program provides information and support to people who are providing care for a person suffering from dementia. Applicants who meet certain financial requirements can qualify for up to $7,500 in services and 30 years of respite care services per year.
Protective Services for the Elderly: People who suspect that a senior is being abused, exploited, or neglected can report this concern to this program at the Department of Social Services. The office can be contacted at 1-888-385-4225.
Senior Community Service Employment Program: Seniors who are interested in continuing to work can learn new skills through this program. Participants take part in temporary training assignments and work 20 hours a week, earning minimum wage. The program is open to unemployed Connecticut residents ages 55 and older who meet certain financial requirements.
Senior Resources – Agency on Aging: This organization serves as a resource center for programs and services available to seniors. It works to spread awareness of these support options through its work with citizens’ groups and volunteers. 19 Ohio Ave., Norwich. 860-887-3561.
Help for our Veterans and their Spouses
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has pledged to lend assistance to aging veterans of the armed services. All veterans are eligible for VA benefits such as health care, disability compensation, and assistance with burial expenses. Other benefits are intended to directly help veterans ages 65 and older.
Aid and Attendance will increase the monthly pension paid by the VA if a veteran is bedridden, needs assistance performing daily tasks, lives in a nursing home, or has eyesight limitations. A higher pension is also available if a veteran is homebound due to a permanent disability.
The VA has a Geriatrics and Extended Care program to help promote the health and independence of aging veterans. Its services include home-based health care and Geriatric Patient Aligned Care Teams to provide care for veterans with chronic diseases.
Seniors may be able to collect a number of other benefits related to their service. For example, veterans who served in the Vietnam War may be eligible for benefits if they suffer from health problems arising from exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.
Surviving spouses of veterans who have not remarried are often available for a survivors pension. The spouse’s yearly family income must be below a threshold set by Congress, and the late veteran must have met certain qualifications as well, such as being discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Due to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, spousal benefits are now available for partners in same-sex relationships. The VA encourages veterans in same-sex marriages to reapply for spousal benefits if they were previously denied.
Senate Special Committee on Aging
Established in 1961, the Senate Special Committee on Aging attained permanent status in 1977. Senators who are part of this committee investigate matters that can affect seniors, including health care, nursing home conditions, and employment for older Americans. The committee also aims to combat scams that try to defraud seniors and conducts oversight of programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
The Senate Special Committee on Aging maintains a hotline to report fraud issues related to retirement savings, Social Security, and other issues related to seniors. This hotline, which is staffed by committee investigators from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, can be reached at 1-855-303-9457.
Visit the Senate Special Committee on Aging at aging.senate.
National Council on Aging
The National Council on Aging is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of Americans ages 60 and up, especially those who are struggling with issues such as financial or health problems. First established in 1950, the organization works with the government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to reach this goal. The National Council on Aging focuses on economic security and healthy aging and also has a public policy branch to advocate for legislation that affects seniors.
For more information on the National Council on Aging, visit ncoa.org.