James Firman lauded for his work to connect individuals with benefits
Arlington, VA – James Firman, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), today became the 6th recipient of the Katie Beckett Award from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disability (NASUAD). The award honors Firman’s commitment to ensuring seniors and persons with disabilities receive benefits and long-term services and supports that keep them healthy and independent.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Firman. “Katie Beckett and her family exemplify how providing financial, health, and social supports can help individuals retain their independence and be valuable contributors to their communities. It is an honor to follow in their footsteps and to have NCOA’s work to improve the health and economic security of millions of vulnerable older adults and persons living with disabilities recognized by NASUAD and our peers.”
Established in 2012, the Katie Beckett Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership in championing the rights of individuals with disabilities to live in whatever place they call home. Previous recipients have included Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS).
Katie Beckett survived a brain infection at five months of age, but was forced to spend years in pediatric intensive care because Medicaid would not cover the services she needed in her home. Thanks to her mother’s advocacy, the Katie Beckett Waiver was enacted in 1982 and has allowed more than 500,000 children to live at home and access the treatment they need.
Firman has been a national innovator in connecting low-income seniors and persons with disabilities to benefit programs for more than 30 years. In 1987, under his direction, a nationwide benefits enrollment tool called the Benefits Outreach Screening Service (BOSS) was created. For the next dozen years, BOSS was offered by about 100 community organizations across the country.
In June 2001, BOSS became the NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® online tool. BenefitsCheckUp.org is the nation’s most comprehensive, free benefits screening tool available online. Since 2001, over 6 million people have used BenefitsCheckUp® to find benefits valued at over $21 billion.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. NCOA empowers individuals with trusted solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and protects and strengthens federal programs that people depend on as they age. Working with a nationwide network of partners and directly with individuals, NCOA’s goal is to improve the lives of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.