For years the Benefits Connection Center at Adelante has helped people with disabilities and seniors connect to the government benefits they need. These services are offered for free to those populations, thanks to an ongoing grant from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). This year, due to the pandemic challenges in several rural counties, NCOA provided Adelante with an additional grant called RISE. Through the RISE grant, Adelante is helping raise awareness about COVID vaccines. In addition, we are helping seniors get help paying for their utilities and their groceries.
Adelante & NCOA RISE to the Challenge
Over 12% of New Mexico’s seniors live below the federal poverty line. This is the group that NCOA and Adelante know need help paying for groceries and utilities. Government safety net programs exist to help low-income families. However, the reality is that many don’t have access to computers to apply online. Or, if they have computers, they may lack internet services or a way to upload the documents required. That’s where Adelante and our Benefits Connection Center step in to help.
Adelante screens clients for several government benefits with one system. We let people know what benefits they are eligible to apply for, and offer our assistance with those applications. Then, if they want to move forward with applying, Adelante helps them upload their documents and apply. What’s more, when it is time to re-apply, which is often the case after 6 months or a year, Adelante calls to see if the benefit is still needed. If it is, the Benefits Connection Center team helps people re-apply so they continue to get the help they need.
RISE came about during the pandemic to address the need for seniors to get help with essential services. Namely, awareness about and where to get COVID vaccines, as well as help paying for utilities and groceries. New Mexico has a high level of poverty. Many people live paycheck to paycheck. Then, when they retire, they are in dire straits, without that income. Thankfully, Adelante is there to help.
RISE Helps Seniors Get SNAP, LIHEAP & Vaccines
First, this grant is helping connect seniors to the COVID vaccine. During the pandemic getting the vaccine was vital to staying safe. Yet, some of the most vulnerable seniors in New Mexico did not have access because they had to sign up for a shot online. The Adelante Benefits Connection Center is helping seniors to connect to this vital service.
Second, the RISE grant is working to connect people to help paying for utilities. Specifically, applying for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a federally-funded program that helps individuals or families with low-incomes pay for energy bills. That can help people stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer. By doing so, this program can reduce the risk of health and safety problems such as illness or fires.
Third, the RISE grant is helping seniors apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Many people refer to this program by its acronym, SNAP. This service used to be called food stamps. Today, it uses debit/EBT cards to apply funds to individual accounts. That way, people get funds quickly and easily, and have the ability to easily apply that money at the grocery store. With the rising cost of groceries and prescriptions, more seniors are finding themselves in need.
A 5 Minute RISE Survey Can Earn Seniors a $15 Gift Card
The RISE grant’s primary purpose is to help senior connect to these vital governmental benefits. Additionally, the NCOA is interested in gathering information about the need for these services. So, as part of the grant, Adelante is doing 5-minute surveys when seniors call. Those willing to complete the survey receive a $15 gift card in return for their time. The survey topics include COVID vaccines, SNAP, and LIHEAP. Seniors, be sure to take part if you are asked.
Adelante Benefits Connection Center Helps Across New Mexico
Of course, the work of Adelante’s Benefits Connection Center has been going on for years. Further, this service has always been offered for free to the people who benefit. That includes seniors and people with disabilities. The RISE grant simply offered additional funds for some of the counties who were really struggling. Specifically, Sierra, Lincoln, Guadalupe and Valencia Counties.
Are you 50 or older? Do you need Adelante’s help to get these benefits? Please call at (505)273-5222. Adelante’s contact center team can help in both English and Spanish.
You can also learn more on our website at connecttobenefits.org. Please feel free to let others in need know about this free resource offered by Adelante, too.