Congratulations! You have reached senior status. You may have aches and pains and have other concerns to deal with, but you have met the most important criteria – you are still on the right side of the grass.
Some of the more well-known benefits of reaching your golden years are the discounts, starting with AARP membership benefits and increasing to other retailers and services as you age. You should take full advantage of these discounts, but in some cases you can do even better with outright freebies. Some goods and services are available to senior citizens for no cost at all, including these examples.
- Admission – State parks, museums, sporting events, state fairs…there are plenty of places that offer free admission to seniors at specified times. Check for special nights with any place or event you would like to visit.
- Tax Preparation – Depending on your income and the complexity of your taxes, you may be able to use the IRS’s Free File service to submit your taxes online. Should you need help with your taxes and are age 60 or older, the IRS website can direct you to nearby free assistance from IRS-certified tax specialists in retirement-related tax issues through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. AARP offers a similar program (AARP Foundation Tax-Aide) at various locations.
- Preventative Care –The Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) mandates that some preventative care procedures and screenings be covered at no out-of-pocket cost to you, regardless of age. These include blood pressure testing, cholesterol and colorectal cancer screening, various vaccines, and one free wellness visit. A guide to Medicare-related preventative health care services may be found at http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10110.pdf
Some health care plans cover the service as they must, but the services themselves may not be free – for example, a vaccine may be free but there may be shared costs to administer it. Check with your health plan and your doctor to verify when “free” means completely free of costs during the visit.
- Prescription Drugs – If you qualify, you may be able to receive free prescription drugs through Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). PAPs are set up through drug companies to assist low-income individuals who cannot afford certain medications. You can start by checking the availability of your needed medication at http://www.rxassist.org/patients. Some supermarkets with pharmacies also offer some free prescriptions as part of their loyalty program.
- Education – Why not go back to school? Many states and universities have tuition-waiver programs allowing you to attend certain classes for free. They may not be for credit, but you can still explore areas that interest you or catch up on the latest technologies.
- Eye Care – The American Academy of Opthamology offers free eye exams and potentially up to a year of free care through EyeCare America to those 65 and older who have not seen an eye doctor in at least three years. Check the guidelines at the EyeCare America website to see if you qualify.
States and municipalities often offer their own free assistance to seniors over a wide range of programs if they qualify based on age and/or income. Examples include assistance with simple home repairs to correct unsafe situations, shoveling snow offsidewalks/driveways, and building wheelchair ramps. Links are usually available through government websites, although some are more user-friendly than others.
Take a little time to investigate the free goods and services available to you in your current life situation. Discounts are great, but freebies are even better. Why pay anything at all if you don’t have to? We cannot think of any reason.
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