By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
The public health crisis has made life difficult for many senior citizens, especially seniors who already were struggling to keep up with rising living expenses.
Navigating government departments and utility company websites in search of help can be frustrating. As we travel around Monmouth County speaking to residents, we often find that many seniors in need are unaware of the programs that are available to help them. That’s why we are offering our Saving for Our Seniors or S.O.S. program again this year: to help seniors cut through the red tape and make sure that every senior can access the help they need to stay in their homes. Since starting S.O.S. in 2018 we have assisted nearly 350 Legislative District 11 seniors in finding help.
We launched S.O.S. to help seniors access programs including property tax relief, healthcare services, help paying utility and water bills, prescription drug programs, food programs, transportation aid, veterans programs and housing assistance. Through the S.O.S. program we can help evaluate your needs, find benefits and services that can help, and walk you through the process of securing them. Here’s how it works.
Start by filling out a short S.O.S. form on our website at ericandjoann.com/sos to give us your contact information, or by contacting our Legislative District 11 office at (732) 695-3371 or by email at Help@email@example.com to request an S.O.S. application, which we will mail to you.
Fill out the application and mail it back to the Legislative District 11 Office at 802 West Park Avenue, Suite 302, Ocean Township, NJ 07712. A member of our Constituent Services Team will carefully research services and programs that may qualify you for financial assistance.
We will follow up by mailing you a packet of information and applications on the benefits available to you. The LD11 staff can help you decide which programs to apply for and assist you in applying.
The Legislative District 11 staff also is ready to help seniors apply for the “Senior Freeze” property tax rebate program. The state has extended the deadline for applying for Senior Freeze to February 1, but please contact us right away for an application so you can complete and mail it before the February 1 deadline. Senior Freeze enables seniors who meet the income requirements to “freeze” their property taxes at the 2019 level. The state issues annual reimbursements to refund the difference between your frozen property tax year and the increased amount paid each year afterward.
We also would like to remind residents that they can help people in need by donating new socks in all sizes for our “Socks for the Homeless” drive for shelters and other nonprofit organizations to distribute to people who are homeless. Our bill became law in 2018 year designating every February 14 as Socks for the Homeless Day to bring awareness of the need for socks as most people donate other things but not usually socks, which are so crucial to protect the health and safety of people who are homeless. Please mail socks through the end of February to our Legislative District 11 Office at the address above, or call our office to make arrangements to drop them off in person. We also created an Amazon Wishlist to help make donations easy at tinyurl.com/LD11Socks.
One final note: As we celebrate the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. next Monday in a time of national turmoil, let’s all try to live by Dr. King’s example and strive to treat each other with respect and kindness. It is the best way to honor his memory and to make life fairer and safer for all residents.