Documentation of income, citizenship, and expenses is an essential element in helping clients to apply for benefits. Yet in Illinois, as in many states, counselors and advocates found that many Medicaid applications were being denied by the Department of Human Services due to insufficient documentation or the submission of documentation that could not be deciphered by caseworkers.

This in turn caused the “churning” effect of repeated applications and denials, thus delaying benefits and creating extra casework for DHS staff.

AgeOptions, a longtime Benefits Enrollment Center in Cook County, sought to improve this process by creating a standardized form that could be submitted to DHS along with other required paperwork.

What they did

AgeOptions created uniform cover sheets which clearly explain the documentation enclosed with the application. Download a sample copy of the cover sheet here. The form includes a checklist of documents that prove income, as well as space to document medical and housing expenses.

The cover sheet has been distributed to advocates and to 1,000 statewide partners who participate in a coalition called Make Medicare Work.

The result

Since rolling out use of the standardized cover sheet, there is anecdotal evidence that denials of applications have decreased dramatically. State counselors and advocates hope that as more counselors and advocates adopt the form, it eases both their and DHS staff workloads, and ensures those people who qualify for benefits receive them in a timely manner.