At the end of 2022, President Joe Biden signed off on a $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that will also help Americans by funding health, housing, and retirement for older adults. The bill, referred to as the omnibus bill for 2023, is more than 4,000 pages and includes a wide variety of legislation.
Here are the highlights of the benefits of the omnibus bill for older adults:
Health and Housing
Make the choice to live at home
Since 1972, the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program has helped older adults age in their own home or a community setting. One of benefits of the omnibus bill for older adults is that the MFP will extend through September 2027.
Age in place safely
The bill funding for the federal government’s Older Adult Home Modification Program doubled from $15 to $30 million. The goal of this program is to enable low-income older adults to remain in their homes through low-cost, low-barrier, and high-impact home modifications that will help increase older adults’ general safety and improve their functional abilities in their home. The program covers the cost of items like railings, temporary wheelchair ramps, grab bars and a transfer bench in the tub/shower, risers for chairs and sofas, and more.
Keep community spouse protected from poverty if you’re on MassHealth in a nursing home
Another benefit of the omnibus bill for older adults is that when one spouse has MassHealth coverage to be in a long-term care facility, their spouse still living at home will be covered by spousal impoverishment rules. These protect the healthy spouse by ensuring they get income while their spouse is in the facility and continues to be eligible for MassHealth coverage. The rules are adjusted annually and will continue in place until September 2027.
Continue to use telehealth
Another benefit of the omnibus bill for older adults is that seniors who are Medicare enrollees will be able to see doctors online for another two years.
Locate affordable housing with supportive services
The Housing for the Elderly Program helps low-income seniors secure affordable housing that has services like cooking and cleaning.
Save more for retirement
The bill raises the “catch-up” contribution limits for retirement savings. Taxpayers who are aged 60 to 63 will be able to give an extra $10k to their 401(k) beginning in 2025.
Get emergency access to 401(k) funds
For people younger than age 59 ½, under certain circumstances they won’t have to pay the 10% penalty fee if they withdraw money early from their 401(k). At the end of 2023, they will be able to withdraw up to $1k/year for emergencies without being impacted by a penalty.
Can wait longer to take money out of your retirement accounts
Historically, the required minimum distribution (RMD) mandated that you had to start withdrawing money from your retirement plan account beginning at age 72. A benefit of the omnibus bill for older adults is that since January 1, 2023, they can wait until you’re age 73 to withdraw from private retirement accounts.