8 best retirement freebies

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Doctor examining senior patient's ear
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By Cameron Huddleston

Senior discounts abound, making life in retirement a little more affordable. In some cases, though, older adults can get more than just a lower price -- some goods and services that will appeal to retirees come free of charge.

Here are eight great freebies that many retirees can enjoy. Some are available only for those who have reached a certain age. Others are accessible to people of all ages but can be especially beneficial to those living in retirement on a fixed income.

Free tax preparation. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help to all taxpayers with an emphasis on those age 60 and older. Volunteers, who are certified by the IRS, specialize in pension and other retirement-related tax issues. Use the TCE locator tool to find a site near you. And AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, at more than 5,000 locations.

Free preventive care. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 now requires health insurers to cover certain preventive care -- ranging from flu shots to cholesterol screenings -- without being subject to the policy's deductible or co-payments. Medicare beneficiaries can also get many preventive benefits without co-payments or deductibles. The list includes mammograms, screenings for cervical and colorectal cancer, pneumonia shots, and an annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan. See Medicare's Preventive & Screening Services for a full list. You become eligible for Medicare at 65.

Free prescription drugs. Several supermarket pharmacies including Harris Teeter, Meijer, PriceChopper and Publix offer select antibiotics, diabetes medications and other generic drugs for free. You might need to enroll in a pharmacy loyalty program to receive the free drugs. Pharmaceutical companies also offer free and low-cost drugs to low-income people without prescription-drug insurance. You can use RxAssist database to find free medication through drug companies' patient assistance programs.

Free eye care. EyeCare America, which is a public service program of the American Academy of Opthamology, provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for any disease diagnosed during that exam for those who are 65 and older and haven't seen an eye doctor in three or more years. Visit EyeCareAmerica.org for program guidelines and to see if you qualify.

Free education. About 60 percent of accredited, degree-granting institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to an American Council on Education study. In fact, several states have laws requiring state-supported institutes of higher learning to waive tuition for older residents (usually age 60 or 65 and older). Some tuition-waiver programs allow credit to be earned for the course, while others only allow the course to be audited.

Free museum admission. Most museums offer senior discounts for admission, but a few actually let older adults visit for free on certain days. For example, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City gives people 65 and older free admission the first Monday of every month. Several museums offer free admission one day a month to residents of the city, county or state where they are located. For example, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta offers free admission for Fulton County, Georgia, residents the first Saturday of each month and the Art Institute of Chicago lets Illinois residents visit for free on Thursday evenings. And Bank of America cardholders can gain free admission to more than 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month.

Free state park admission. Several state park systems -- among them Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Texas -- offer older adults free admission or a free annual pass. Some passes require a small processing fee, and some state sites aren't included in the admission-fee waiver.

Free transportation. Some localities and states let older adults ride for free on public transportation. For example, the Pennsylvania Free Transit Program allows people 65 years and older to ride bus, trolley and rapid-transit lines for free with a senior citizen transit identification card (which also is free). Some places, such as Orange County, California, offer free community transit programs that help older adults get to select locations.
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