(DailyTreasure.com) – It’s no secret that the process of finding government assistance programs can be time-consuming, confusing, and simply overwhelming. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) saw a need to make benefits programs more accessible to the elderly and disabled and in doing so created BenefitsCheckUp.org.
BenefitsCheckUp.org is a free tool designed to aid one of the most vulnerable sections of our population with easy access to information on the programs they may need to meet their ongoing needs. The programs indexed here range from housing and utility assistance to food and medication assistance.
The History of BenefitsCheckUp.org
The website is relatively new, formally established in 2001. NCOA is actually a nonprofit advocacy organization – not a formal government agency. There are currently more than 2,500 different benefits programs across federal, state, and even private organizations, but many of those who are in the most dire need of assistance don’t even realize they exist. Indexing all of these programs in one place created a safe hub where seniors and disabled Americans can find the tools they need to maintain the highest quality of life possible. Hence the birth of BenefitsCheckup.org.
The website itself isn’t a simple directory. It’s an interactive portal designed to help those in need match with the programs they are most likely to benefit from and be eligible for.
Users should start by visiting BenefitsCheckUp.org. There are a couple of options on the homepage. Beneficiaries can either choose to enter their zip code to search by area, or they can hit the green “Get Started” button to immediately begin a more personalized process. Users will enter information about their location, current income level, current expenses, age, and other qualifying factors.
Once the form is complete, BenefitsCheckUp.org will filter your confidential information through a secure system in order to create a personalized list of programs that the user may qualify for. This program simply matches eligibility criteria and does not promise a user will actually qualify for or receive benefits from any program. The user will receive a list of possible programs along with instructions on how to apply for each – a great first step for anyone who needs guidance in the right direction.
Common Programs Found on BenefitsCheckUp.org
So what programs will BenfitsCheckup.org potentially match a user with? They vary greatly but include many of the following:
- Food Assistance: Those struggling with nutrition may be matched with food assistance programs. The most common is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as the food stamp program. Seniors and the disabled may also receive information about the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and local meals on wheels services, too.
- Housing Assistance: Housing programs vary based on level of need. Those who use the tool will learn about HUD programs like Housing Choice Vouchers and Section 8, but may also be matched with programs designed to help with property tax issues or the home repairs needed to keep their current locations safe and healthy.
- Energy Assistance: A warm (or cool) home is a safer home. Programs like LIHEAP, for example, are designed to make sure utility costs remain manageable.
- Healthcare Programs: Seniors and the disabled may qualify for a number of different health programs. These include Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs designed to offer preventative health services, vision and hearing care, mental health assistance, and even primary care. There are also a number of prescription assistance programs and tools to help with the cost of insurance premiums.
- Income Assistance: Those who fall well below the poverty line may find they qualify for cash assistance. Those with children in their care may qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), while those with disabilities may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The programs indexed on BenefitsCheckUp.org don’t end here, though. Users will also find helpful resources for transportation to medical appointments or to go grocery shopping, benefits specifically designed for veterans, and even legal advocacy and assistance programs.
Getting Help from BenefitsCheckUp.org
Having trouble navigating the system? That’s OK. There are actually enrollment specialists on stand-by to help. They’re available by phone, Monday through Friday from 8am to 7pm ET and can be reached at 1-800-794-6559. You may also be able to walk into a local office to speak to a specialist face-to-face.
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