An elderly benefit specialist is a person trained to help seniors who are having a problem with their private or government benefits.

County and tribal benefit specialists are often called red tape cutters because they are experts at helping seniors with the extensive and complicated paperwork often required in benefit programs. They help seniors figure out what benefits they are entitled to and tell them what they must do to receive them.

Elderly benefit specialists receive ongoing training and are monitored by attorneys knowledgeable in elder law. The attorneys are also available to assist seniors in need of legal representation on benefit matters.

Who should seek help from an elderly benefit specialist?

  • Seniors who want to know more about any private or public benefit.
  • Seniors who need help organizing the paperwork to apply for benefits.
  • Seniors who have been denied a benefit that they think they are entitled to receive.

What can elderly benefit specialists do?

  • Provide accurate and current information on benefits.
  • Suggest alternative actions seniors can take to secure benefits or appeal denials of benefits.
  • Advocate on seniors’ behalf with other parties.
  • Explain what legal action or other possible solution is required.
  • Refer seniors to an appropriate attorney when necessary.

Benefit specialists can help you with a variety of programs and issues, including:

  • Medicare; Medicare Part D
    • Medicare health plan decisions must be made between Nov. 15-Dec. 15. Contact an elderly benefits specialist for more information. Also visit Medicare.gov.
  • Medicare Supplemental Insurance
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security
  • Medical assistance
  • Consumer problems
  • Age discrimination in employment
  • Homestead Tax Credit
  • Housing problems
  • Supportive home services
  • Food stamps
  • Veteran’s Affairs benefits
  • General relief
  • Other legal and benefit problems

Who is eligible for elderly benefit specialist services?

  • Anyone 60 years of age or older who is having a problem securing a public or private benefit.
  • Anyone eligible for the Elderly Benefit Specialist Program.

What does the elderly benefit specialist service cost?

  • The program is supported with funds from the state of Wisconsin and the federal Older Americans Act. Some elderly benefit specialist programs also receive federal funds through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program. There is no charge for the service, but people assisted by the program are encouraged to make a donation toward the cost. All donated funds are used to expand the program. Services will not be refused or limited in any way if a contribution is not made.

Who provides elderly benefit specialist services?

  • Services are either provided directly or contracted to another agency by county and tribal aging units. The area agencies on aging contract for training and support of the benefit specialists by attorneys. The State Bureau on Aging and Disability Resources in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services coordinates the program statewide.
  • For more information, contact the county or tribal benefit specialist nearest your loved ones. Ask specifically for the benefit specialist when calling. To receive the best service, schedule an appointment in advance.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Health Services