Tooele County is the second-largest county in Utah, with a total area of 7,286 square miles, and population of 62,952. Tooele City is the county’s largest city, with a population of 33,122, which means much of the county’s residents are spread out in small towns across the region. This is a vast area for the county’s aging services department to cover and provide information to Medicare beneficiaries.
What did they do?
Working with the regional Social Security office, Tooele Aging Services began promoting Social Security’s Video Service Delivery (VSD) site housed in the Tooele Senior Center in Tooele City. VSD allows county residents to meet privately with a Social Security representative, via a computer monitor and web camera, instead of driving to the nearest Social Security office, which can be over 100 miles away. VSD is available at the senior center twice a month for two hours each session.
During the twice monthly VSD sessions, MIPPA staff are at the Tooele Senior Center to meet the residents interested in a VSD session and screen them for LIS and MSP eligibility. With the help of an iPad with internet connection, staff can complete and submit an LIS application on-site, while MSP applications routinely require a follow-up appointment.
To promote the VSD program, Tooele Aging Services paid for an ad in the Tooele Transcript (local county paper) as well as three local senior newsletters. In addition, flyers were distributed throughout Tooele County by community partners including Tooele Health Department, Department of Workforce Services, Utah Independent Living Center, Valley Behavioral Health (mental health center for Tooele County), and two local faith communities.
What was the result?
This system has proven to be very successful, with an average of 26 individuals screened per two-hour session. It has proven particularly helpful in serving the hard to reach seniors and people with disabilities who have a difficult time traveling to other outreach sites or communicating over the phone.
Tooele Aging Services recognizes the value of its partnership with the Social Security Administration and hopes that the demonstrated success of the Tooele County VSD sites increase the likelihood of expanding the VSD network across Utah and the country.