by Chris Price
Thinking about retiring should bring thoughts of being able to kick back and relax, but the transition from working to retirement can be daunting. Here are five national and state organizations that can help make the transition into the golden years less cumbersome and more enjoyable.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. Membership in the organization offers many benefits and discounts, information on travel and living well, as well as advocacy for pertinent issues and includes a spouse or partner for free. For more information on AARP, log on to aarp.org. For information on what AARP is doing in Arkansas, log on to states.aarp.org/Arkansas.
The Social Security Administration is a federal program that pays retirement benefits to people who have paid into the system. Full benefits are paid at age 65. Reduced benefits are paid to those who retire before 65, however, those who continue working and decide not to collect benefits until age 70 get higher benefits when they retire. For more information, call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, or log on to ssa.gov.
Medicare is a national health insurance program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It provides coverage to people 65 and older, younger people with disabilities, and those with end-stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). In 2018, Medicare provided health insurance for over 59.9 million individuals—more than 52 million people who were aged 65 and older. There is a seven-month window that opens three months prior to turning 65. Sign up then to avoid paying higher premiums by signing up later in life. For more information, log on to medicare.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services serves as the focal point for all matters concerning older Arkansans; serves as an effective and visible advocate for the aging population; gives elderly citizens a choice of how and where they receive long term care services; plans, coordinates, funds and evaluates programs for senior adults. For more information, log on to daas.ar.gov or call (501) 682-2441.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging is focused on adding life to your years by making them healthier and more productive. In addition to its main campus in Little Rock, there are seven UAMS Centers on Aging statewide, whose mission also is to improve the quality of life for older adults and their families in the areas they serve, including the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education at Northwest Health System in Springdale, Northeast Center on Aging in Jonesboro, West Central Center on Aging in Ft. Smith, Oaklawn Center on Aging in Hot Springs, Texarkana Regional Center on Aging, South Central Center on Aging in Pine Bluff and the South Arkansas Center on Aging in El Dorado. For more information, log on to aging.uams.edu/outreach/uams-centers-on-aging or call 501-296-1000.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) provides grants, based on the share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund various supports that help family and informal caregivers care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible. NFCSP grantees provide five types of services: information to caregivers about available services; assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services; individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training; respite care and supplemental services. The NFCSP is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. For more information log on to acl.gov and search for the National Family Caregiver Support Program.