Benefit Center Helps Seniors Access Missing Benefits
Posted Feb. 11, 2012, 1:04 am
Nearly 47 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for benefits and don’t know it, according to research by the National Council on Aging. Now, with the WISE & Healthy Benefits Enrollment Center, seniors have a one-stop source where they can learn what benefits they are eligible for and get assistance to apply for benefits that help with health care, prescription drugs, food, and utilities expenses.
Many seniors with limited resources in Los Angeles County face huge challenges finding out about benefit programs and their eligibility requirements as well as getting the application forms and navigating the application process, according to Grace Cheng Braun, president and CEO of WISE & Healthy Aging.
Made possible by a grant from the National Council on Aging to elevate the quality of life for seniors, the Benefits Enrollment Center is the only one of its kind in California. Its services are free of charge to any L.A. County resident who is 50 or older.
The center uses an online tool to screen seniors one-on-one for eligibility in these benefit programs: Medicare Part D Extra Help (Low-Income Subsidy); Medicare Savings Programs, helps pay Part B premiums; Medi-Cal, helps with the costs of medical bills and prescription drugs; Cal-Fresh, provides up to $200 a month on the cost of food; and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program to help pay for heating or cooling bills.
The Benefits Enrollment Center then assists the client in filling out applications, collecting the necessary support documents and submitting them to the appropriate office. The center follows up with the senior as the application is reviewed and is available to answer questions, do trouble shooting and help the client learn how to use their new benefits once they are awarded.
The screening and enrollment process will be done both on a one-on-one basis at locations throughout Los Angeles County and through a call center. The toll-free number for reaching the call center is (855) 6-ENROLL (636-7655).
WISE & Healthy Aging’s Benefits Enrollment Center works with organizations including: Bet Tzedek Legal Services; Center for Health Care Rights; City of Los Angeles Department of Aging; L.A. County Department of Public Social Services; Legal Aid Foundation of L.A.; L.A. County Community and Senior Services; St. Barnabas Senior Services and Venice Family Clinic.
For more information on WISE & Healthy Aging, please call 310.394.9871, or visit www.wiseandhealthyaging.org. For information about the Benefits Enrollment Center, please call 855.636.7655.