Boost Your Budget Week helps put money in older adults’ pockets

Annual campaign connects older adults with vital benefits to help cover basic expenses

By Paula J. Clark, Kenosha County Aging & Disability Resource Center

The ADRC is a no cost, "one-stop shop" for older people, people with disabilities, their families, guardians and caregivers. We provide objective, reliable information on a wide variety of services, resources and benefits.

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Rising inflation has left many older adults struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income.

“The National Council on Aging has designated April 10-14, 2023, as Boost Your Budget Week, to educate older adults about public and private programs to help pay for food, medicine, utilities, and more.” shared Andrea Taylor, Kenosha County ADRC Benefit Coordinator. “While Kenosha County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) can help throughout the year, this campaign offers a great opportunity to collectively spread the word.” 

Recently, the Kenosha County ADRC was contacted by a woman named Tabitha, a single woman who lives on a fixed annual income of $23,500. Her concern was two-fold: having enough money for food and to heat her home. ADRC Benefit Specialist, Sharon Banks, worked with Tabitha.

“Tabitha asked for assistance applying for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program,” explained Banks, “Additionally, she needed assistance to complete the FoodShare renewal and make sure there wasn’t a lapse in her FoodShare benefits, which can happen if the renewal isn’t done correctly or within a certain time frame.”

Tabitha explained: “I don’t have a lot of money and really need everything to work.”

Tabitha had difficulties in the past doing her FoodShare renewal on her own and was unsuccessful. The problems she faced, made her reluctant to try again.

“Tabitha was extremely organized and prepared for our appointment,” Banks said. “We went over all the documents together and I informed her she had everything that she needed to complete her WHEAP application and Foodshare renewal. We called together to complete her renewal, and we were able to get through rather quickly. She was found eligible for the Foodshare program. We also completed an application for WHEAP which was approved, and she received help with a one-time payment (once per heating season) for her energy bill.

“Tabitha really appreciated our help. She was thankful that everything was approved, and we were there to help.” 

The ADRC helps people every week with similar situations. David Stump contacted the ADRC for assistance after his wife passed away.

“Since my wife passed away, I have no idea what I am supposed to do,” Stump said. “I keep getting phone calls and papers in the mail. She handled all our bills and insurance. I called around and no one was able to answer my questions. I am grateful I came into the Kenosha ADRC. Everyone was helpful and made things easier to understand. The Medicare Savings Program and Foodshare will help me a lot.”

The Boost Your Budget programs include:

  • FoodShare, also known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program): helps people with limited income buy food for good health. To be eligible you must meet non-financial and financial requirements (gross income: single: $2,266 or married $3,052).
  • Medicaid: Health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. Non-financial and financial eligibility requirements apply. 
  • Medicare Savings Program: Help to pay for certain Medicare costs such as premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurances. MSP is for those individuals who receive Medicare benefits and have limited countable monthly income (single: $1,640 or married $2,218) and limited assets (single: $9,090 or married $13,630).  
  • Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP): helps with heating costs, electric costs, and energy crisis situations. WHEAP heating and electric assistance is a one-time payment during the Wisconsin heating season, October 1 – May 15. To be eligible for WHEAP, you must be a resident of Wisconsin and meet financial eligibility (below 60 percent of the State median income based on household size). 
  • Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS)-Extra Help: Helps people with limited income and resources pay for Medicare prescription drug costs like premiums, deductibles, and reduced copays or coinsurance. LIS-Extra Help is for those individuals who receive Medicare benefits and have limited countable monthly income (single: $1,823 or married $2,465) and limited assets (single: $15,160 or married $30,240). 

Taylor wants people to remember, “Do not let a NO in the past stop you from planning for today. Let’s start the conversation! Call the Kenosha ADRC and see how we can help Boost Your Budget. We are available, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Call us today! Remember our number, 262-605-6646.”