Cell Phone Resources for Senior Citizens

cell phones for seniors

With more and more people entering their senior years using cellphones for everything from keeping in touch with family to entertaining themselves with the latest games, figuring out how to budget for a cell phone is important for most seniors. With plans ranging from simple pay as you go flip phones to smart phones with unlimited data, there are a lot of options to choose from. Here are some tips for making sure you are getting the best deal for yourself or your loved one.

 

First, figure out what you really need. With so many different capabilities being offered on digital devices, it can get overwhelming to decide what kind of phone is right for you. Do you need the smart phone with GPS and apps? Or would your needs be met by a simpler flip phone for calls and texts only? Many companies have developed senior-friendly phones that include higher volume options, bigger buttons, and simpler menu screens to help seniors navigate their devices. If you still aren’t sure, ask the provider if you can take the phone model you are considering for a test drive. Make sure you choose a phone that works for you.

 

Many providers are now offering senior discounts and services geared specifically to their 65+ customers. AT&T’s Senior Nation Plan offers service for basic phones for seniors 65 and older. With their plan, you get 200 anytime minutes, unlimited calls to other AT&T customers, and 500 minutes for nights and weekends for $29.99 per month. Verizon’s Nationwide 65+ Plan includes 200 anytime minutes and pay as you go texting for $29.99 per month. You can add data to this plan for $10 for every 75MB. T-Mobile’s Pay As You Go Plan is perfect for seniors looking to use their cell phones for emergencies only, with plans starting at $3 per month for 30 minutes of calls or 30 texts.

 

Greatcall is a service geared towards helping seniors stay connected and independent through their mobile phone options. Their devices were made with seniors’ needs in mind. Their Jitterbug Smart2 smartphone offers a simplified menu screen and internet access while the Jitterbug Flip offers bigger buttons, a brighter screen, and a powerful speaker. All Jitterbug phones come with built-in support at the push of a button, connecting the user with 24/7 5-star urgent response agents. Greatcall services provide peace of mind for relatives and keep seniors connected. Their service plans start at just $19.99 per month.

 

If you are a low-income household, you may qualify for some additional discounts for cell phone service. Lifeline is a government funded program that helps low-income families get discounted internet or cell phone services. Lifeline can help get you connected with local providers that participate in the discount program. There is a limit of one discount per household and it can only be used for cell phone OR internet, but not both. Many big providers also offer low-income discounts. These services are not listed, though, so you will need to ask potential providers directly if they offer these programs and if you qualify.

 

A cell phone makes you instantly connected to family and friends, providing peace of mind and convenience. Choosing a cell-phone service is an individualized choice based on your needs and budget. Take the time to choose the service that is right for you or your loved one and don’t be afraid to shop around and compare prices for the best deal.

Affordable Housing Options for NJ Seniors

NJ seniors

With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 in 2011, the number of senior citizens in the United States is increasing. According to the US census, by 2030 the number of people 65+ will reach nearly 71.5 million. Most seniors live on fixed incomes and sometimes retirement savings or programs like Social Security can’t support their housing expenses. Because many of these senior citizens will need affordable housing options, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been increasing their initiatives to help seniors manage their cost of living in retirement.

 

Reverse mortgages are an increasingly popular option for seniors who still have equity in their current home and are looking to supplement their retirement income. If you are 62+ and have paid off your mortgage or paid off a significant amount of the loan, you may be eligible for a reverse mortgage. Under a reverse mortgage, instead of making monthly payments to the lender, the lender actually makes payments to the borrower. The borrower must still make regular payments on property taxes and homeowners insurance. This allows retirees to use the wealth they have accumulated in their homes to help cover their cost of living.

 

There are, however, a lot of reverse mortgage scams to watch out for. Some companies will outright lie to sell their services to unsuspecting and desperate seniors. The only reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. Federal Government is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Through the HECM program, you will be able to withdraw some of your home’s equity. The amount available for withdrawal will vary from person to person and depends on the age of the youngest borrower, the current interest rate if your mortgage is not paid off, and the value of your home.

 

If you find it is impossible to stay in your current home, HUD also provides help for seniors looking to move into lower-income housing through senior housing vouchers, Section 202 supportive housing, and public housing.

 

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) allows seniors to look for housing in the private sector amongst specific properties run by local public housing agencies including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. There are two kinds of vouchers: tenant-based vouchers, which move with the renter – and project-based vouchers, which are assigned to specific units and are not transferable. Typically, rent and utilities are calculated at 30% of the monthly adjusted gross income and the voucher will make up the difference in expenses. In order to find out if you or your loved one qualifies for this program, you will need to contact your local public housing agency.

 

Established in 1959, the Section 202 supportive housing program is the only HUD program specifically created to provide housing for seniors and those with disabilities. This program is designed to help seniors live as independently as possible while also offering assistance with daily living. Assistance can include dressing, bathing, housekeeping, and transportation. In this program, HUD provides loans to private and nonprofit organizations to finance the building and management of supportive housing services along with rent subsidies for residents. Typically, seniors that are 62 or older and have a very low household income (the average yearly income for Section 202 residents is $10,000/year) are eligible for this program. To apply, you will need to contact the individual housing community you are interested in.

 

Public housing for seniors includes high-rise apartments and duplexes that are operated by the local public housing agency. In this program, seniors will typically spend about 30% of their household income for rent and utilities. It is important to note that due to the limited resources available to HUD and local housing associations, there are typically long waiting lists for public housing. That is why is it important to be proactive and get in touch with your local public housing agency in order to determine your eligibility and explore all of your housing options.

 

Veitengruber Law is ready to offer expert advise on housing solutions for NJ seniors. Our goal is for you or your loved one to age in comfort and security. If you are looking for housing options for yourself or an aging parent or relative, it is important to know what resources are right for you. Call us today for your free consultation.