- Written by Janis Merrell, Editor of The Good Life
- Published: September 17, 2021
And Professionals Now Have the Option to Make Referrals Online 24/7
L.B., 78, of Greenfield, says, “I’ve been totally independent my whole life, I have trouble asking for anything.” L.B. had a career in healthcare for most of her life, including as a nurse’s aide, a home health aide, and as a Certified Activities Director in a long-term care facility. But, when she finally decided to retire last November, her income took a cut and she couldn’t manage to cover her bills with Social Security alone. “I’ve worked since the age of 14, but life happens,” says L.B.
Neighbors were telling L.B. to call LifePath for help, but she kept avoiding making the call. “It was a pride thing. I’m glad I finally did it,” says L.B.
I was relieved, eating a lot healthier than I ever have, due to SNAP.
LifePath’s Benefits Counseling Program helped L.B. sign up for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and LifePath’s Information and Caregiver Resource Center (ICRC), which the Benefits Counseling Program is a part of, also helped L.B. apply for MassHealth.
“When the first year of benefits kicked in, I relaxed, knowing I had health insurance. I was relieved, eating a lot healthier than I ever have, due to SNAP,” reports L.B. “People at LifePath are the most relaxing, helpful people. Makenzie [Plasse, Community Options Resource Specialist] is fantastic and so is everybody there. Do not hesitate to call,” says L.B.
The Benefits Counseling Program at LifePath is designed to enhance the financial security of adults age 60 and older, or people with disabilities of any age. Benefits Counseling helps people apply for fuel assistance whether they are new to the program or recertifying, and helps individuals with new applications for SNAP benefits. The Benefits Counseling Program also connects people to other benefits by referring them to the correct organization to successfully receive the additional aid they need.
“Individuals who I have been able to help receive fuel assistance or SNAP benefits are so appreciative,” says Community Options Resource Specialist Holly Holloway. “I have worked with clients who don't have access to a computer, so applying for SNAP benefits might have been very difficult for them, but affording groceries is extremely difficult with their financial situation. Just spending 20 minutes on the phone with them to fill out the online application can make a huge impact on their finances when they receive the benefit. In the winter, some people find it very hard to afford to heat their home, so they keep the heat set at a very low temperature. Helping someone get the benefit so they can be comfortable at home makes me feel good. Working with these individuals is rewarding, because I have been able to help them live more comfortably while improving their financial outlook,” she explains.
Holly reports the online process for SNAP is very simple: “I access the online application through DTA Connect, then just fill out the application, advancing each page by category similar to the paper application. There is an option to go back throughout the process if needed. At the end, I read the Notice of Rights, Responsibilities, and Penalties, then electronically sign the application, and click Submit. The online process takes about 20 minutes. The applicant will then receive correspondence from DTA requesting verifications and documentation. Some individuals are able to receive their benefit within a few weeks.”
In addition to the great work being done by the Benefits Counseling Program, Information & Caregiver Resource Center Program Director Laurie Deskavich, LSW, CIRS A/D, is very excited about the new electronic referral option for professionals such as social workers, RNs, and medical staff on LifePath’s website. “I am happy to say that the Make a Referral option is now active on our website. This addition will allow professionals the opportunity to make referrals 24/7! LifePath’s Information & Caregiver Resource Center monitors electronic referral activity during business hours Monday through Friday. We will also continue to accept professional referrals via phone, facsimile, and/or secured email,” says Laurie.