GREENFIELD — LifePath, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to serving older adults and people with disabilities in Central and Western Mass., announced the receipt of a grant aimed at establishing a Benefits Enrollment Center to assist individuals in Franklin and Hampshire County, as well as the North Quabbin area, to access crucial benefits to help them maintain independence in their homes.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) awarded LifePath the $125,000 grant. Funds will be used to find and enroll eligible low-income older adults and adults with disabilities into benefits programs, including the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy, Medicare Savings Programs, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Energy Assistance Program.
LifePath’s service area, encompassing the most rural and economically disadvantaged regions in the state, faces unique challenges for older adults seeking to maintain independence in their homes. Thirty percent of the population in this area have incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, creating significant barriers to accessing essential benefits.
Many older adults, especially historically underserved populations, struggle to understand and apply for benefits. LifePath’s Benefits Counseling program, established more than six years ago, has been a vital resource, yet funding limitations have impeded its capacity to meet the escalating demand, particularly for complex MassHealth applications.
LifePath aims to enroll 400 people in one or two benefits programs each over the next 19 months. This goal is informed by a careful review of waiting-list information and insights from another successful Benefits Enrollment Center. It will partner with its SHINE program, which provides free, independent Medicare counseling to more than 3,600 older people each year, to identify and enroll eligible people.
“We are incredibly grateful to the National Council on Aging and ACL for this grant, which will allow us to expand our Benefits Counseling program and provide critical support to underserved elders in our community,” LifePath executive director Gary Yuhas said. “This funding will enable them to access the benefits they need to maintain independence and improve their quality of life.”