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Benefits Counselors
Who are they and do I need one?

By Sandra Fusion, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 3)

The types of information that benefits counselors can examine include (but may not be limited to):

    Insurance benefits
    Social Security benefits
    Social Security Disability benefits
    Medicare, including the new prescription benefit section (Part D)
    Prescription Assistance programs (for individuals not eligible for Medicare)
    Income tax benefits and credits
    Retirement benefits
    Veterans benefits
    Community-based benefits
    State program benefits, including home care alternatives
    Advocacy with agencies, if needed
    Referrals to community based organizations or government agencies.

Make sure you have your documentation available when you speak to a benefits counselor. Things to consider taking with you to an appointment include:

    Recent statements from your insurance company
    Recent bank account statements (although they may not need them)
    Medications that you are currently taking (for Medicare Rx or other prescription benefit programs)
    Retirement statements concerning benefits you are already receiving
    Social Security statements and card (if available)
    Disability benefits currently receiving

Any other state, federal, or community program where you are currently enrolled.

What if you’ve applied for services and have been denied, yet you still feel that you qualify? A benefits counselor can examine your case individually and try to advocate on your behalf. Advocacy does not guarantee services, however. Advocacy gives a voice where you may not have the words needed to explain your situation. Indeed, advocates for individuals may be able to sort through the requirements and find out if there has been miscommunication, missing documentation, or other communication barriers that prevent you from receiving specific benefits. If you are still denied benefits, at least you will feel like you have received the total attention of the “system.”

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