Six Months of Innovations
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Six Months of Innovations

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October 16, 2012 Learn More

Find out more about NCOA’s network of Benefits Enrollment Centers.

Earlier this year, NCOA awarded grants to six Benefits Enrollment Centers (BECs) to test innovative strategies to increase low-income seniors’ enrollment in benefits. The innovations being tested fall into four categories defined by the Center:

  • Scaling up a successful local program to serve a whole state.
  • Improving troubleshooting and follow-up of benefits applications.
  • Increasing outreach and enrollment of isolated populations.
  • Using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a gateway to other benefits.

The BECs implementing these strategies are:

  • AgeOptions (IL)
  • Benefits Data Trust (PA)
  • Georgia Legal Services Program (GA)
  • Isabella Geriatric Center (NY)
  • Korean American Community Services (IL)
  • South Alabama Regional Planning Commission (AL)

Results thus far

In the last six months, the six Innovations grantees have helped over 2,700 seniors enroll in benefits worth $4.3 million. Among those helped:

  • 65% had income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • 20% reported having a disability.
  • 67% lived alone.
  • Three-fifths of all clients (60%) approached the Innovation grantees for assistance because they were unable to afford their prescription drugs.
  • 1,437 clients received comprehensive follow-up to ensure they enrolled in and used the benefits they were eligible to receive.

Here are just a few examples of how the BECs have been able to reach more clients:

  • Korean American Community Services recruited, trained, and deployed a group of Korean senior volunteers to go out into the community and help low-income Korean seniors with little to no English to apply for benefits. This Silver Giving Circle, as it is called, builds leadership capacity in the Korean community, and has forged partnerships with other community agencies that help this population, thereby helping to ease their social isolation and build economic security. Under their innovation grant, 57% of their clients served are living alone and face a language barrier or a disability.
  • The Georgia Legal Services Program is utilizing their trained legal professionals to do comprehensive troubleshooting and follow-up for benefits applicants. Using a streamlined telephone intake process, GLSP has worked with clients to improve the quality of their applications and thereby reduce the number of denials due to incomplete documentation and applications. Under their innovation grant, 66% of their clients received a follow-up call or visit and 89% of their clients were confirmed to be enrolled in a key benefit.

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Read stories of those helped by Innovations grantees:

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