1. Am I eligible for any benefits?
Many benefit programs can help people who have limited income afford living expenses such as utilities, food, health care and transportation. Some of these programs are designed just for seniors and adults with disabilities. You may become eligible for programs once you reach a certain age, experience a new health condition, or lose a source of income. The easiest way to find out what assistance you are eligible to receive is by completing a Benefit Check Up. Seniors and adults with disabilities can contact the Aging and Disability Resource Network to complete a Benefit Check Up: 1-855-585-ADRN (2376) or go to www.benefitscheckup.org
2. Have I been a victim of identity theft?
Someone may be using your identity and ruining your credit. If identity theft continues, you could be sued by creditors and you might not be able to borrow money when you need it. You can check your credit report to find out if someone has opened accounts in your name. Each year, you can get a free credit report from three different companies. You should request one every 4 months from a different company. To request a credit report call Equifax at 1-800-525-6285, Experian at 1-888-397-3742, or Trans Union at 1-800-680-7289. You can also request reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. If your credit report shows activity that you did not authorize, follow the steps recommended by the Federal Trade Commission to report and stop identity theft. See http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
3. Am I financially prepared for an emergency?
Emergencies are unpredictable but there are some things you can do to prepare yourself.
- Keep copies of important papers such as insurance, bank account, health care and estate planning information in a safe place you can easily find them.
- Keep some emergency money in a safe place where you can easily get it, even if you can only spare a small amount.
- Identify a safe place you can stay temporarily if something happens and you cannot stay in your home. Also make a plan for how you will get there.
- If you have someone in your life you trust completely, consider sharing the above information with that person so they can help you if needed. Do NOT share information about your finances or other important matters with anyone you do not know well and trust completely.
Planning ahead can help keep unexpected costs to a minimum during an emergency.
This article was written by Emily Mutillo from the City of Cleveland Department of Aging and appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 1. Click here to read the full issue.