The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently awarded grants to 10 organizations nationwide for the purpose of finding and enrolling economically vulnerable older Americans and younger adults with disabilities into public benefits programs. The grants were provided through NCOA’s National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment which supports person-centered, community-based systems through the creation of Benefits Enrollment Centers (BECs). Each BEC will receive up to $130,000 to establish more effective systems to enroll seniors and adults with disabilities into the following programs: Medicare Part D Extra Help (Low-Income Subsidy); Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs); Medicaid; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the federal Food Stamp program; State Pharmacy Assistance Programs (where available); and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP). The BECs are funded under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AoA).
"The economic downturn makes the work of Benefits Enrollment Centers even more important," said Jim Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. "Millions of low-income seniors and adults with disabilities are struggling to meet their basic needs. Many are simply not aware of all the programs available to help them achieve economic security, or they need assistance in applying for them."
Recipients of the grants are:
- WISE & Healthy Aging, Santa Monica, CA
- Centura Health System, Denver, CO
- Senior Resources, Norwich, CT
- ElderSource, Jacksonville, FL
- City and County of Honolulu, Department of Community Services, Elderly Affairs Division,Honolulu, HI
- Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, Lexington, KY
- Isabella Geriatric Center, New York, NY
- Washington County Disability, Aging & Veteran Services, Hillsboro, OR
- AARP Foundation West Virginia, Charleston, WV
- Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Madison, WI
"Seniors and adults with disabilities need to know about the array of state and federal benefits for which they are eligible," said Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging. "The Benefits Enrollment Centers support AoA’s commitment to identify promising practices, especially those that use person-centered assistance and web-based decision support tools. These strategies offer a more complete and cost effective way to enroll these individuals so that they can receive the support they require."