ARTICLE. What do you qualify for? From the California Mobility Blog. Thanks to Village of the Coastisde (VOTC) newsletter for bringing it to my attention.
There are so many programs, discounts, and other benefits for senior citizens, and it makes sense to take advantage of some of these perks that come along with getting older. But how do you know when you officially become a senior citizen?
Many people correlate retirement with reaching senior status, and most people retire between 60 and 70 years of age, but the term “senior citizen” is subjective. While some people may consider those who are 50 or 55 to be seniors, others may think 65 is the magic number.
AARP even reminds you that your senior status is just around the corner by sending you their applications long before you even reach 50 years of age. So how do you when you are a senior?
There is no universally accepted age requirement for someone to meet to be deemed a senior. Companies and organizations all set their own age limits to classify people as seniors, depending on their specific requirements and the types of services or products they provide. Below are several organizations that cater to seniors, along with the ages they set for consumers to receive their services or benefits.
U.S. Census Bureau
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people who are aged 65 and older as part of the “older population” category for the purposes of data collection and reporting. In the 2010 Census, 13% of Americans fell into this category, and this number is expected to increase.
Restaurant and Retail Discounts
Age: Varies – usually 50 – 65
The age to receive senior citizen discounts at restaurants and other retailers varies according to each retailer’s policy. Some senior discounts are available for those with an AARP card, so these seniors would be aged 50 and older since that’s age AARP’s requirement. Other establishments have age requirements of 55, 60, or 65 years of age. Senior can often find discounts for restaurants, hair salons, hotel accommodations, airfare, cell phone service, and movie theaters. Seniors tend to be on fixed incomes, so this is a great way for retailers to encourage seniors to do business with them.
American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) and Other Organizations for Retired People
AARP provides its members with a variety of discounts on products and services, such as hotel accommodations, restaurants, car rentals, and travel arrangements. The American Seniors Association and the Association of Mature American Citizens are organizations that provide benefits similar to AARP, but they are politically more conservative. All of these organizations offer memberships to those who are aged 50 and up.
Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Age: Varies by state – usually 65 – 80
There are special requirements that apply to senior citizens renewing their drivers’ licenses. These requirements are designed to prevent people with poor vision, perception limitations, or slow reflexes from driving. Each state sets its own requirements, which may include a vision screening or driving tests for those over a certain age. For example, in California, seniors can’t have their licenses taken away solely because of their age, but those who are aged 70 or older can be required to meet certain requirements. Seniors with physical or mental conditions may have to undergo a reexamination or hearing that includes a written medical history provided by their doctors; written, vision, and driving tests; and evidence that supports their ability to continue to drive safely. Ages vary greatly by state, for example, the age is 65 in Arizona and 80 in Florida.
Car Insurance Companies
Age: Varies – usually 65 – 80
Car insurance companies tend to increase their premium rates for senior citizens. For some companies, rates may increase slightly at age 65, and by the age of 80, rates tend to skyrocket, but requirements vary according to each company. If your insurance company raises your rates too high, you should shop around for better rates. More than 30 states, including California, require insurance companies to provide a discounted rate to those aged 55 and up who take approved driving courses.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing, according to a variety of factors, including race, color, origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status, which pregnant women and families with children. This could cause problems in retirement community neighborhoods where residents must be seniors. To remedy this, the Fair Housing Act includes “Housing for Older Persons” exemptions, which specifically apply to apartments or housing communities for those aged 55 and up. Senior living apartments, condos, or housing communities have the right to refuse to sell or rent homes to families with minor children if they meet certain criteria, such as the intent to operate as a senior living community and being solely occupied by seniors.
Retirement Plans (401K, IRA, Roth IRA, etc.)
Age: 59 ½ and 70 1/2
If you withdraw money from your 401K or IRA before you are 59 ½, you may be responsible for paying a 10% early withdrawal penalty. There are required minimum amounts that you must withdraw at 70 ½ years of age. There is also a required minimum distribution (RMD), which uses a formula to determine how much money you must withdraw on a regular basis. This amount factors in your age, life expectancy, and the amount of money you have in savings. If you don’t comply with withdrawing the appropriate amount, you may have to pay a penalty.
Age: Varies according to the year you were born – 65 – 67
The average life expectancy for Americans was 61 years when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935. Current data suggests the life expectancy is now around 79 years. With people living longer today than they did then, the age to receive full social security benefits has gotten older. It originally started at age 65 and has now reached 67. The age you must be to receive benefits depends on the year you were born, so if you were born in or before 1937, your retirement age is 65, and if you were born in or after 1960, your retirement age is 67. You can also choose to draw social security retirement funds at a reduced rate as early as age 62.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for seniors. You are eligible for Medicare health care coverage when you reach age 65, and you need to start the application process four months before your 65th birthday so ensure you are covered by your birthday. Medicare is not a free program, so there is an out-of-pocket cost for seniors, including monthly premiums and deductibles. The amount varies according to the type of plan you choose.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP provides resources for food assistance for low-income people and families. You must be aged 60 or older to be eligible for this federal food assistance program based on your age, which may allow you to qualify even if you have a higher gross income than those who are younger may have. Eligibility is based on your income and assets, as well as the number of people living in your home.
Whether you are renewing your drivers’ license, using a senior discount at your favorite restaurant, searching for a home in a senior community, or preparing to retire, eventually you will have to meet certain age requirements to get the services you need. Although there is no set age number that suddenly transforms you into a senior citizen, many companies and organizations do use age requirements to determine who receives their benefits and services. This list provides you with information on these requirements.