Money Matters

Tax Assistance
Assistance to senior citizens is available to complete federal or New York State income tax forms February to mid-April. Year-round assistance and information regarding tax credits, property tax reductions, etc., is also available.

Star (School Tax Relief)
Homeowners in New York State are now eligible for school tax reductions. To apply for the STAR program, contact your local assessor. Questions may also be directed to the Office for the Aging.

IT 214s
The New York State Tax form IT-214 is a real property tax rebate for homeowners and renters with an annual income of $18,000 or less. Forms for filing are available at the Office for the Aging. The form may be filed at any time during the year and is retroactive for a 3-year period.

Medicaid is a program for low-income persons who are unable to pay their medical costs. If qualified, Medicaid helps to pay for a variety of hospital and other medical services, including eyeglasses, dental care, prescribed drugs and long-term nursing home care.

Property Tax Reductions
In most communities in New York State, homeowners over 65 years of age with low incomes may apply for a 50% reduction in their taxes. You must have lived in your home for 2 years or more. Filing dates and income levels vary in each community. This can be easily checked by contacting your local assessor. The reduction is not automatic and must be applied for when you reach age 65. You also must file an application each year with your local assessor.

Assistance is provided to income eligible persons in applying for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for the payment of heating bills. Assistance is based on monthly gross income, the number of persons living in the household and the heating situation. Staff from the Office for the Aging are also available to screen and refer eligible older persons whose homes are in need of winterizing and other energy conservation services, such as New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

In addition, staff will assist in identifying other resources to meet a client’s needs including utility fuel funds, charitable organization, state and federal loan and grant programs, etc.

Financial Counseling
Any resident of Washington County who is having difficulty managing their personal or household budget can receive free and confidential financial counseling. If you are having trouble making ends meet or find yourself having to make financial decisions for the first time in your life, Cornell Cooperative Extension may be able to assist you.

Medicare is a program that helps older persons with medical bills. Anyone age 65 or older and entitled to social security or railroad retirement is automatically covered under Medicare’s basic hospital insurance plan (Part A). The supplemental medical insurance plan (Part B) of Medicare is voluntary, and to participate there is a monthly premium charge. Contact your Social Security Office at least 3 months before you reach age 65. For information on Medicare, contact the Social Security Office nearest you. A listing of physicians in your area who accept Medicare assignment is available through the Office for the Aging.

Social Security
All persons who have worked some portion of their lives and made sufficient Social Security payments as required by law are entitled at age 65 to Social Security benefits. You may receive Social Security benefits sooner, starting at age 62 if you retire then, but the monthly benefits will be smaller. There are also disability provisions for individuals who are disabled before age 65.

The spouse of someone who is receiving Social Security benefits is entitled to a spouse’s benefits even if he or she has never worked. The surviving spouse of a person who was covered by Social Security is entitled to a percentage of the spouse’s benefits until he or she remarries. Widows and widowers over age 60 who remarry will not lose their benefits.

After 1 year of marriage, the widow/widower can file for the spouse’s benefits on the new spouse’s record if the benefit is higher than the widow / widower’s rate. At least 3 months before age 62 or 65, or at the time of disability, go to your Social Security Office to apply for the benefits to which you are entitled.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
This program provides financial aid to people 65 and over and to those blind and disabled, regardless of age, whose income and resources are below specified levels. Those qualifying for SSI may also be eligible for Medicaid and food stamps.

Veteran’s Benefits
Veterans and their spouses or widows may be eligible for long-term care benefits, real property tax reductions, veterans / widow pensions, financial assistance with home modifications, medical and prescription services.

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