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Connecting Diverse Elders with Programs to Help with Costs of Living

April 2017 | National Council on Aging (NCOA) article first appeared in Diverse Elders Coalition Blog

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Are you an older adult living on a fixed income? Do you sometimes struggle to pay all of your bills in a month? There’s an online tool that can help!

Are you an older adult living on a fixed income? Do you sometimes struggle to pay all of your bills in a month? There’s an online tool that can help! BenefitsCheckUp® (www.BenefitsCheckUp.org) can connect you to programs that pay for health care, prescriptions, food, household utilities and more.

What is BenefitsCheckUp®?
BenefitsCheckUp® is a tool from the nonprofit National Council on Aging. It is the nation’s most comprehensive, free, online service to screen seniors with limited income for benefits programs. It includes more than 2,500 public and private benefits from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its launch in 2001, more than 5 million people have used BenefitsCheckUp® to identify benefits valued at $18 billion.

Can I use this tool?
BenefitsCheckUp® contains programs specifically geared for adults aged 55+, and younger adults with disabilities who qualify for Medicare. But anyone can use the tool to complete a screening, whether it is for you or a friend or loved one.

What types of programs will I find?
A wide variety of federal, state, and private programs are included in a BenefitsCheckUp® screening. Examples of the types of benefits include:

Health care benefits, including Medicaid, the Medicare Savings Programs, chronic disease self-management programs, and donated/discounted vision and dental care.

Prescription drug assistance programs, such as Part D Extra Help (Low Income Subsidy), State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs, and Patient Assistance Programs offered by drug manufacturers.

Nutrition and food benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and home-delivered and congregate meals.

Housing and utility supports, including energy and weatherization assistance, home repair and renovation programs, and property tax relief.

What information do I need to complete a screening?
The BenefitsCheckUp® screening questionnaire will ask for information about your income, household composition, health (including what medications are taken), and expenses. The more information you provide, the more accurate your screening results will be. BenefitsCheckUp is anonymous and does not ask personally identifiable questions in the screening questionnaire.

What happens after I complete the questionnaire?
After completing the screening questionnaire, you will receive a personalized report with a list of programs you may be eligible for. Each program includes a fact sheet with information on who is eligible, how to apply, and where to get additional assistance completing the application. Most programs include links to downloadable/online applications.

What else can I do on BenefitsCheckUp.org?
In addition to the screening tool, you can also use BenefitsCheckUp.org to:

Search the Resource Library for basic information about specific categories of programs by state.

Download your state SNAP application using the SNAP map.

Apply directly for the Part D Extra Help prescription drug assistance program using the site’s secure data bridge with the Social Security Administration.

Get started using BenefitsCheckUp® today!

About NCOA
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.

© 2011-2017 Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint these articles, or post them online, please e-mail us.

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