This post, authored by Claudia Mott, originally appeared on

Q. I am 77 and my only income is $907 from Social Security per month. I collect food stamps, get help with gas and electric and I have a Medicare Advantage plan that I get help with the premium. I have no savings or assets. I need to get a part-time job but cannot afford to lose assistance programs. I have good credit but my credit cards are maxed. How much can I earn without losing benefits?
— Trying to get by

A. We’re sorry to hear you’re struggling.

New Jersey is among the most expensive states in the country, making it a challenge for many seniors living in the state.

New Jersey provides a number of support programs for eligible individuals and it looks as though you are enrolled in many of them, said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.

She said taking on a part-time job will certainly help ease the financial strain you are under, but you are wise to be sure that you don’t lose any benefits as a result.

Based on the Social Security you are receiving, your annual income is $10,884, well within the range of New Jersey’s benefit programs, Mott said. Each program, however, has a different income cap.

“As you look for part time work, you’ll want to know which benefit carries the lowest income hurdle and what the value of that program may be,” she said. “If it is one that doesn’t provide you with a substantial amount of expense savings over the course of a year, the ability to earn more may outweigh the value of the benefit.”

Here are the income limits for state programs:

The Aging and Disability Resource Connection at (877) 222-3737 has staff to assist seniors with finding support services (877-222-3737). You can also try your county’s Area Agency on Aging.

“You may want to reach out to these groups to discuss your plans for work and the impact they might have on the benefits you currently receive,” Mott said.

Email your questions to

This story was originally published on Oct. 27, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.

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