NCOA Finds Seniors Miss the Boat on $20 Billion in Benefits

Seniors are missing out on an estimated $20 billion in aid to help with food, medicine and heating, according to a National Council on Aging study released Tuesday in conjunction with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

“Millions of low-income Americans who are struggling to make ends meet are missing out on billions of dollars of services and benefits that can help them,” said James Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. “As a result, we are launching a national campaign to educate older adults about the support that is available—and the steps they need to take to get signed up.”

The campaign, You Gave, Now Save, directs seniors to two resources that can assist seniors identify potential benefits: first, NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp and second, an Administration on Aging service, The Eldercare Locator.

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According to the NCOA study, in 2011 alone, BenefitsCheckUp screenings identified more than $1.2 billion in benefits users are eligible to receive but are not getting. The total amounts to 71% of BenefitsCheckUp users who were previously missing out on benefits.

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Commonly missed benefits include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps alleviate hunger; Medicare and Medicaid; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • Even more commonly missed benefits are the Medicare Savings Program (pays for Medicare part B premiums, saving the senior about $100/month), and the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (Extra Help, which pays for all or part of the Part D premium, lowers copayments for prescription meds, and eliminates the dreaded donut hole in coverage).  These programs are available to folks whose income is a little too high for Medicaid and many seniors do not know that they exist.  These two programs are also great examples of valuable benefits that the senior can lose access to if they take a lump sum draw from a reverse mortgage, because both programs have asset limits (in most states).

  • If I heard MCCounselor correctly, rather than use their own assests that they accumlated during their lifetime in the form of home equity, we should encourage people to feed at the public trough and call it a benefit instead of welfare.

  • Its pathetic.  From what I read and from what it seems the rmcounselor is advocating, rather than utilize their own assests in the form of their saved equity, we must encourage seniors to feed at the public trough and call it a benefit instead of welfare. Every senior should be REQUIRED to utilze their home equity before they become wards of the State.

  • Sorry, but NCOA is flat wrong. I use the benefit check up tool on every reverse mortgage counseling I do, regardless of whether or not the person is “required” to get it.  I know for a fact that many of the programs suggested are not usable to my clients.  Either their income is too high, or they have too many assets, or for other reasons.  As I tell my clients, this is a list of possible programs available to you, there are no guarantees.  Furthermore, and most frustrating, for the average client I see, the SNAP benefits (Food Stamps for those not up on the new social worker lingo) which are often suggested amount to little more than five to ten dollars per month based on a client’s income.  If the client has private health insurance, the program always recommends Medicare, Medicare Part D, and/or state supplements.

    NCOA cannot use data from the benefit check up tool like this and remain credible.  Either that, or they need to seriously revise the benefits check up tool and make it far more accurate.  Oh, and they need to deal with the GIGO factor (garbage in, garbage out for those unfamiliar with computer lingo).  If a client doesn’t give me accurate information to put into the program, for whatever reason (usually, “I don’t want you to know how much I have in my bank accounts, that is private!), then, once again, there are no accurate results.

    While a large number of seniors are not getting all that they are entitled too, I would be it is far closer to 45% than it is to 71%.  It would probably drop even further down if they did not count seniors who were eligible for $20 a month or less in food stamps, probably to about 35%.  This chart looks really great if you want to scare people to get them to help the poor seniors, but in reality it is far too easy to debunk and if used as such will turn around and bite NCOA and seniors badly.

  • NCOA has very little credibility on many topics.  To say that it is a good thing that the conversion rate is going down because it and IT alone knows why a lower percentage of seniors are moving past case number assignment to closing is nonsense.

    NCOA and the FIT advocates have absolutely no idea why this is going on.  They just do not want it blamed on FIT so they say we all should be grateful that seniors are making better and more informed decisions.  Yeah, sure that has to be the reason!!!!  Why?  Because NCOA says so?

    There is no proof for any of these claims.  Who says any senior utilizes one of these programs pointed out in BCU?  NCOA reminds one of the parent who yells at their child:  “It’s that way because I told you it is.”

    Frank is absolutely right.  NCOA is guessing and it shows.  The more the execs at CredAbility back up the NCOA nonsense with their own nonsense, the worse counseling looks.  

    If NCOA or CredAbility are right in their claims, where is the evidence?  This is not proving a negative.  They have made positive assertions.  Where is the evidence?  Is this their standard for what is true?

    Many famous people in history have stated in one fashion or another that if one tells a big lie often enough from as many sources as possible, eventually it will be perceived as fact. 

  • Re: the $20 billion. The USDA Food & Nutrition Service
    estimates that 65% of seniors eligible for SNAP don’t get it—that’s ~2.85
    million seniors missing an average $1,400 a year (of course, some seniors are
    eligible to receive more, and some get less, but that represents the national
    average). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that 1.7
    million seniors who qualify for Part D Extra Help aren’t getting it—a benefit
    worth an average $4,000 a year. A person who qualifies for Extra Help also
    qualifies for Medicare Savings Programs, worth on average a little over $1,200
    annually. Thus, those eligible for but not receiving help from these three
    programs alone miss around $13 billion—and that number rises as we add in those
    missing other programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, energy
    assistance, and more.

     

    The bulk of these benefits serve seniors who live at or near
    the Federal Poverty Level (this is the intended audience for BenefitsCheckUp).
    Therefore, the 71% of BenefitsCheckUp users missing out on benefits is a
    reflection of an already narrowed down pool of seniors, i.e., those who
    self-identify or who are clients of programs that identify them as being
    financially at-risk—not all seniors.

     

    NCOA’s work specifically targets this population—seniors who
    are one event away from economic catastrophe and who have little to no other
    resources available to exhaust. We invite you to learn more about our work and this population at http://www.ncoa.org.

  • Slight correction to my previous response:

    Re: the $20 billion. The USDA Food & Nutrition Service
    estimates that 65% of seniors eligible for SNAP don’t get it—that’s ~2.85
    million seniors missing an average $1,400 a year (of course, some seniors are
    eligible to receive more, and some get less but that represents the national
    average). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that 1.7
    million seniors who qualify for Part D Extra Help aren’t getting it—a benefit worth
    an average $4,000 a year. Many of those who qualify for Extra Help may also qualify for Medicare Savings Programs, worth on average a little over $1,200 annually.
    Thus, those eligible for but not receiving help from these three programs alone
    miss ~$12 billion—and that number rises as we add in those missing other
    programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, energy assistance, and more.

     

    The bulk of these benefits serve seniors who live at or near
    the Federal Poverty Level (this is the intended audience for BenefitsCheckUp).
    Therefore, the 71% of BenefitsCheckUp users missing out on benefits is a
    reflection of an already narrowed down pool of seniors, i.e., those who
    self-identify or who are clients of programs that identify them as being
    financially at-risk—not all seniors.

     

    NCOA’s work specifically targets this population—seniors who
    are one event away from economic catastrophe and who have little to no other
    resources available to exhaust. We invite you to better understand the
    population we serve and their needs at http://www.ncoa.org.

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