Social Security was never meant to be your only source of income when you retire and we are certain that you did not plan to be in such a huge income deficit in what should be the delight and highlight of your life – retirement. But with meager pensions, almost nonexistent savings and expected life spans continuously getting longer, Social Security has been the saving grace for many. It is the “at least” for many Americans after all else has failed and important savings and investing milestones have passed them by.

When it comes to social security income, the number one advice is to wait as long as you possibly can before drawing benefits to increase the amount that you will receive, but, if you are forced to do so earlier, what should you do?

The only thing you can do is to budget. And by budget, we mean to stop paying for things you don’t need to pay for, so you can have more money to afford the things you want to afford. Living off social security is not the worst thing that could happen to you. Instead, it is an opportunity to take advantage of every benefit that is provided for you.

Here is a list of things you could cross off your long list of expenses:

1. Prescriptions. We hope you are not paying out of pocket for your prescription drugs and we most certainly hope that you are not skipping or missing your medications for any reason. Prescription drugs are expensive. This we know. But there are options available to you to assist you in paying for your prescription drugs. These include enrolling in a Stand-Alone Prescription drug plan and applying for Extra Help to get help paying for your prescriptions. You could pay as low as $0 depending on the level of Extra Help you qualify for. If you don’t qualify for Extra Help, you may qualify for assistance from your state through a State Pharmaceutical Assistance program. Finally, you can get prescription coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage.
2. Getting Around. Transportation may be a sore spot for you if you don’t have a fully paid-off car to get from point A to point B. If public transport is your main means of getting around currently, you should know that you can take some of the load off with transportation benefits. If you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and B, you may be able to enrol in a program that provides you with transportation benefits to get to and from your doctor’s appointments or fitness appointments. This benefit is completely free and allows you to spend your cash on what matters the most to you.
3. Medical Supplies. Do you use medical supplies like assistive devices (ex. shower rails), diabetic supplies, therapeutic shoes, and inserts? You could receive coverage for medical supplies like these and funds for other over-the-counter items. This is another cost you can cross out and put those extra funds to things that make your life a little better. Benefits like these may become available to you when you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. See if you qualify now.

4. Medical expenses like dental and vision. Most Medicare Advantage plans come with coverage for dental and vision. All plans will limit the dollar amount you can spend annually, and you or may not have any out-of-pocket costs for these services if you receive additional assistance like Medicaid.

5. Food. There may be programs available to you that provide you with healthy foods and food items. One of the possible options is the meal benefit that comes with a Medicare Advantage plan. This benefit does not last forever and not everyone needs it. But, if you think that you would find it as a useful benefit, it may be a good idea to see what Medicare Advantage programs are available near you to find out if you can get this benefit now.
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