ADRC Specialists can assist persons with a wide variety of benefits and programs that focus on relieving financial stress. We provide information and help determine if customers qualify. We will assist in connecting people to appropriate benefits and explain how to apply.
We also work closely with Elder Benefit Specialists (EBS) and Disability Benefit Specialists (DBS) who specialize in these programs and refer more complicated matters to them. Many of the benefit issues which seniors and adults with disabilities face are very complex. A Benefit Specialist assess the situation, provides unbaised information and give customers options so they are able to make an informed choice. An EBS serves customers 60 and older and a DBS serves those who are 18 to 59.
For information on programs, resources, or applying for services contact the ADRC of Vilas County at 715-479-3625 or 1-800-374-1123
Some examples of benefits available are explained below:
Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP)
The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides assistance for heating costs, electric costs, and energy crisis situations. Operating with federal and state funding, the program provides assistance to approximately 230,000 Wisconsin households annually.
Most types of fuel are eligible to receive assistance. Whether you use wood, propane, natural gas, electricity, or fuel oil to heat your home, energy assistance is available if you qualify.
Wisconsin Weatherization Program
To qualify for the Wisconsin Weatherization Program you must first Apply for Energy Assistance at your local Wisconsin Heating Energy Assistance Agency or WHEAP agency. This is the FIRST STEP in determining your eligibility for weatherization services.
Click on the Where to Apply and select your county to find out where to apply.
FoodShare Wisconsin helps low-income families and individuals to buy nutritious food. If you want to find out if you can get FoodShare benefits, you need to apply with your agency. You can apply:
1) Online at access.wi.gov and click on "Apply for Benefits." This will let you submit an application to your agency.
2) By calling your local Income Maintenance Consortium:
Forest, Taylor, or Vilas Counties 888-794-5722
3) Going to your agency in-person.
SeniorCare is a prescription drug assistance program for Wisconsin residents who are 65 years of age or older who meet the enrollment rules. The program is designed to help seniors with their prescription drug costs. Those interested may apply at any time. However, your application will not be accepted if you apply earlier than the calendar month before your 65th birthday. This program can take the place of a Medicare Part D Plan. Click here for Senior Care Application.
Medicare Savings Programs
You can get help from your state paying your Medicare premiums. In some cases, Medicare Savings Programs may also pay Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments if you meet certain conditions.
Wisconsin Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP)
The Medicaid Purchase Plan offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working the opportunity to buy health care coverage through the Wisconsin Medicaid Program. Depending on an individual's income, a premium payment may be required for this health care coverage. Click here to view the MAPP Consumer Guide.
The ADRC of Vilas County can direct you to resources to help complete your yearly taxes and assist with the Homestead Tax Credit, for those who are eligible.
Homestead Tax Credit
If you meet all of the qualifications, you must complete a Wisconsin Homestead Tax Credit Claim, Schedule H or Schedule H-EZ, to determine the amount of any benefit available. Please note that you may meet all of the qualifications but still not receive a credit because the credit is based on the relationship of your household income to the amount of your allowable property taxes and/or rent. If you do qualify for a credit, you must submit a copy of your 2015 property tax bill (if you owned and occupied your home) or an original rent certificate signed by your landlord (if you rented your home) along with your Schedule H or H-EZ. The filing deadline for a 2015 claim is April 15, 2020, for most claimants. Do not file your 2015 Schedule H or H-EZ before January 1, 2016.
Long-Term Care Options
Family Care is a long-term care program which helps frail elders and adults with disabilities get the services they need to remain in their homes. This comprehensive and flexible program offers services to foster independence and quality of life for members, while recognizing the need for interdependence and support.
For more information, click on the Tell me more about Family Care link below: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p0/p00088d.pdf
The IRIS Program is a Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver for self-directed long-term supports. The program is an option for adults with long term care needs. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Long Term Care (DLTC), Office of IRIS Management under the authorization of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is responsible for oversight of the IRIS program. IRIS is available to Wisconsin residents determined financially eligible for Medicaid, functionally in need of nursing home or Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID) level of care; and living in a county where managed long-term care and IRIS are available.
For more information, click on the Tell me more about IRIS link below: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p0/p00088m.pdf
People who are determined eligible for long term care will have the choice of either IRIS or Family Care. To check if you or your loved one meets the eligibility criteria for COP Services contact the ADRC of the Northwoods at 800-699-6704.
Medicaid in Wisconsin
This website contains links to medicaid publications, information on eligiblity, and so much more. Apply for the Wisconsin Medicaid program for people who are 65 years or older, blind or have a disability (EBD Medicaid).
Some considerations that impact eligibility for public funding are listed below (click on title for detailed information):
- Spousal Impoverishment General Information - Taken from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), this document includes updated information for the Spousal Impoverishment program.
- Spousal Impoverishment Protections - Information about helping a spouse afford to stay in the community in their home when one spouse is in a nursing home or on long-term care waiver services (COP) and Medicaid is the paying source. The Printable version of the spousal impoverishment protections document explains spousal impoverishment prevention provisions of the Medicaid program, with information on asset & income protections and divestment. More Spousal Impoverishment information from the State of Wisconsin.
- Patient Liability- Nursing Home Medicaid for a Single Person - If you get Medicaid and you are in a nursing home or medical institution, you may be required to help pay for your health care cost. This is called "Patient Liability".
- Wisconsin Medicaid Estate Recovery Program - Information about recovery of medicaid benefits from the estate of deceased participants. This resource has been updated and reflects the changes effective August 1, 2014.
- Divestment - Giving away one's resources, such as income, non-exempt assets and property for less than fair market value in order to enroll in Medicaid for the Elderly, Blind or Disabled (EBD). Divestment is also an action taken to avoid receiving income or assets that one is entitled to receive. For example, waiving pension income or disclaiming an inheritance.
Social Security Administration
This section is dedicated to information and tools for when you are applying through the Social Security Administration whether you are considering retirement or applying for disability benefits.
New Information for 2019 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019. For more information on what Social Security looks like in 2019, see the 2019 Social Security Changes fact sheet. You can also find frequently asked questions about the 2019 Cost-of-Living Adjustment Information.
Preparing for or Considering Retirement
The Social Security site www.ssa.gov has a number of tools to help you plan for retirement and/or decide when to start taking social security benefits.
When can I/should I apply: Individuals can apply to social security for retirement benefits as early as age 62 or wait as long as age 70. What age you take benefits is an important consideration as benefits are reduced if taken before your "full retirement age". Working while taking benefits is also a consideration. Go the the SSA page How to Apply Online to get answers to these and may other questions.
Considering Applying for Disability Benefits
Social Security is complicated and when you are in a stressful situation and considering applying due to a disability it can be very overwhelming. Local Social Security Administration staff help individuals apply for benefits and answer questions about forms and required information. The Social Security Administration website has the tools you need to apply on-line and is full of information.
Disability Benefit Specialists (DBS) are specifically trained to understand government benefits. DBS are not attorneys, so they cannot give legal advice. They are available to assist when the social security application process is more complicated than normal. For example when persons are asked to fill out additional forms or when persons are denied a benefit and need help understanding the denial and their next steps if any.
Disability Benefit Specialists work with Social Security Administration staff to help persons understand the process and what they need to do to apply. This webpage is meant to give you the information you need to make the application process easier to understand and help guide you through the steps.
What types of benefits are available? There are two types of benefits available through the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - SSDI is a monthly benefit that may be available to those individuals who have been determined to be disabled by the Disability Determination Bureau (DDB). SSDI eligibility is based on "work credits" which are earned based on work history. The SSDI award amounts are calculated based on contributions an individual has made by paying FICA taxes on his or her work earnings.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - SSI is a monthly benefit that may be available to those individuals who have been determined to be disabled by the DDB and who meet certain income and asset tests. SSI is a needs-based program, and therefore work history is not taken into account. In order to qualify for SSI, a person must have limited income, as well as assets that fall below $2000 (individual) or $3000 (couple). Unlike SSDI, SSI requires that an interview be completed with the SSA prior to approval.