The National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment, an event co-sponsor, blogs about the current economic crisis and how it's affecting elders.
As the current economic crisis deepens, the assets and net worth of older adults and younger people with disabilities – like that of all Americans – are also shrinking, forcing many to choose once again between paying for medications and paying for food or energy bills. However, as we mark the beginning of Older Americans Month, it is important to remember that there is a safety net for older adults – particularly those in need. Programs such as the Medicare Part D Extra Help/Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP), Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps), State Pharmacy Assistance Programs (in many states), and more provide much-needed, valuable benefits for seniors with limited means.
Yet despite the existence of this safety net (and much intense outreach and enrollment work on the part of national, state and local agencies), millions of seniors who have limited incomes and resources qualify for, but are not yet enrolled in programs that help pay for prescription drugs, medical care, food or heat for their homes. Estimates show that somewhere between 1.8 and 3 million Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for, but not receiving, LIS. The enrollment rate in one of the MSPs is only 13 percent, and only about one-third of eligible seniors participate in SNAP.
At the National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment at the National Council on Aging, we are working to improve access to benefits for seniors and younger adults with disabilities, and we invite you to join us in this important work. You can find out if you or someone you know qualifies for benefits through BenefitsCheckUp, our free, confidential online Web service. Or if you’re an organization working on benefits access issues, email us to let us know how you’re working to improve benefits access for seniors in your state. We look forward to hearing from you!