Senior Benefits and Information
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging publishes an excellent book that provides detailed information on a number of rights and benefits for seniors. It can be obtained free of charge by calling the department directly at 717-783-1550, contacting www.aging.state.pa.us or writing to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, 555 Walnut St., Harrisburg, PA 17101. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services also will provide complimentary publications (about 100 pages). Call NJ Ease at 877-222-3737 or 800-792-8820 (toll-free within NJ) or visit www.state.nj.us/health for more information. For Delaware, contact the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities Social Services at 302-255-9390 or visit www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/main/sp.htm on line and click on aging.
While the above publications will detail most of the programs and services available for senior citizens, a few examples of the services and benefits that may be of interest are described below:
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
The aim of the AAA is to act as advocates for the aging and to keep older citizens active and independent in their own communities. AAA offices are staffed with caseworkers skilled in such areas as geriatrics, social work, and community services in nursing facility placement, and a wide range of other community services tailored to your specific needs. Please see "Resources for Seniors — Offices of Aging/Adult Services".
State Health Centers
Many free services are available at a state health center in your community. Doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, social workers and other public health professionals periodically visit the centers to provide consultation service. For further information see agency listings in "Resources for Seniors — Health."
Personal Income Tax (State)
Pennsylvania: Seniors do not pay state income tax on retirement income (Social Security, railroad retirement, or any pension benefits), Veterans' benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
New Jersey: Every resident is required to file a New Jersey Gross Income Tax Return. Three exclusions are available to seniors to reduce taxable income by up to $20,000 (if filing jointly), $10,000 (if filing separately) or $15,000 (if filing as a single). Total income must be under $100,000.
Delaware: Social Security and railroad retirement benefits are not taxable in Delaware and should not be included in taxable income.
For additional information regarding state taxation in Delaware, New Jersey or Pennsylvania see "Resources for Seniors — Finance."
Pennsylvania: Under the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program, a retired person living in Pennsylvania on a limited income may be eligible for a rebate on some portion of what he or she paid for property taxes or rent during a calendar year. (Rebate payment of up to $650 for homeowners or renters with incomes of $8,000 or less. Maximum income of $35,000 for homeowners to receive a property tax rebate of $250. Maximum income of $15,000 for renters to receive a rent rebate of $500.)
New Jersey: The Fair and Immediate Relief Program will provide direct property tax relief in the form of rebate checks to eligible homeowners who are disabled or over 65. Since school tax rates and property values vary within municipalities, the rebate amounts will vary. The rebate is calculated as the difference between the level of real property taxes payable in the first year a homeowner was eligible for the program and the real property taxes owed during the current year.
Delaware: Seniors in certain districts may qualify for a Senior School Property Tax Credit. If you are 65 or over and live in a district that has approved the credit, you make take the credit against regular school property taxes assessed on your primary residence.
Visit www.aging.state.pa.us for assisted living information in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Go to folder, link onto "Aging Programs Directives." In New Jersey contact NJ Ease at 877-222-3737 (toll-free nationwide). To obtain assisted living information for Delaware contact the State Department of Aging by visiting www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/main/aging.htm.
Free Transit Programs
The Pennsylvania program provides free transit service on local established bus routes, trolley routes and rapid transit lines on weekdays, weekends and holidays. Persons 65 years of age or older are eligible. Senior citizens will need an identification card to ride free. his card is available from participating local transit operators. For additional information regarding Pennsylvania free transit service contact Free Transit Program for Senior Citizens at 717- 783-8025.
New Jersey's Reduced Fare Program is available at any time to senior citizens 62 and older as well as people with disabilities. It provides savings of one-half or more of the regular one-way fare. This reduced rate is available for NJ TRANSIT buses, trains and light rail vehicles. Passengers with disabilities simply show your valid NJ TRANSIT Reduced Fare ID or Medicare Card to the bus operator, light rail vehicle operator or train conductor. Senior citizens may be asked to present a valid ID to receive the reduced fare. For additional information about the NJ Reduced Fare Program, contact 973-378-6401 or visit www.njtransit.com.
Delaware provides a reduced fare program for persons who are age 65 and over who have a certified disability. A Reduced Fare-Medicare Card or DART First State Reduced Fare card is required for payment of Reduced Fares. A prepaid Reduced Fare DART Card may also be used. See www.dartfirststate.com/information/getting_there/fares/reducedfareapp.pdf or call 800-553-DART.
Senior Community Service Employment Program
Participants in the Pennsylvania Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) are assigned to useful part-time community service positions with public and private non-profit agencies. Participants usually work an average of 20 hours per week and are paid at least the federal or state minimum wage. Any persons 55 years of age or older who meet income requirements are eligible. Each of Pennsylvania's Area Agencies on Aging has an Older Worker Employment Specialist who can assist with questions regarding the SCSEP program. Pennsylvania's 55 Plus Job Bank—Brokerage System provides job brokerage services by assisting individuals who are age eligible, although not necessarily income eligible, for the SCSEP Program. The program matches seniors with appropriate full or part-time jobs through the Area Agencies on Aging employment brokerage system.
The SCSEP in New Jersey is known as WorkForce 55+. The main objective of the WorkForce 55+ is to match the talents and skills of older workers with the needs of the communities. It emphasizes the training of program enrollees thus enabling them to transition into unsubsidized jobs with private and/or public sector employers.
Older residents in Delaware are served by a variety of employment and training programs through the Department of Labor—New Castle County Division of Employment and Training, which you can contact at 302-761-8089.
For more information for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware visit to "Resources for Seniors — Employment."