Many organizations conduct benefits outreach and enrollment as one component of a broader effort to serve older adults and individuals living with disabilities. While partnerships with community groups are essential to increasing outside referrals, it can be equally beneficial to cultivate internal referrals from other programs within your agency.
In this promising practice, Adelante Development Center—an NCOA-supported Benefits Enrollment Center (BEC) serving New Mexicans with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities—describes how connections between its assistive equipment recycling program and BEC have increased benefits applications for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

About Adelante’s Back in Use program

Adelante Back in Use program logoBack in Use helps recycle assistive technology by taking in donations of durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, etc.) and communication devices and providing them at no charge to seniors and people with disabilities. Back in Use employs a total of nine individuals with disabilities and has helped put thousands of useful items into the hands of those who need them since the program began in November 2010.

Connecting BIU recipients to benefits

In 2015 alone, the Back in Use program has received nearly 7,500 requests for equipment, with approximately 75% of recipients classified as low income. With that in mind, the Adelante BEC reached out to the Back in Use staff to facilitate referrals of applicants to the BEC. On the 1st and 15th of each month, Back in Use team members provide a list of people to the BEC so staff can actively contact each client to assess their eligibility for benefits and assist with applications.

Results

Since January 2015, the Adelante BEC has received 2,404 referrals from the Back in Use program. While many of the BIU clients already have some of the core benefits, the BEC was able to submit 245 new applications on behalf of 160 low-income individuals who were missing out. It was helpful to those individuals who are now receiving benefits and it was a great way for Adelante to offer an additional service to people in need. They called to borrow a wheelchair or a walker, but were able to get more assistance and ongoing support for their needs as a result of these referrals.

For more information

Kenny Sanchez
Benefits Connection Call Center
Adelante Development Center