Right around the corner from Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB), Nutley Senior Manor provides low-income housing for area older adults. Individuals who are eligible for housing at Nutley Senior Manor are probably eligible for other social programs and services as well. Many are on a fixed income that’s based on the amount of money they made 30-40 years ago.
Unfortunately, the phone calls, paperwork, and complex requirements involved with these programs and services can be overwhelming. Many Nutley Senior Manor residents come to NFSB for help. For those who would be more comfortable at home, we go to them.
“Seniors receive more paperwork than anyone,” said Molly Clark, MSW (Master of Social Work), Case Management Coordinator at NFSB. “They have medical bills and paperwork from Medicare and possibly private insurance. They get bombarded with scam calls and letters. Seniors shouldn’t have to deal with so much stress and confusion, especially at this time in their lives.”
This is why Molly’s home visits to Nutley Senior Manor are so important. Advocating for older adults isn’t just about helping them access important social programs. It’s about reducing stress so they can enjoy life.
Patiently Navigating Social Services
Molly schedules appointments as needed instead of having set hours for home visits. This allows her to meet with residents when they need her help. For example, if they receive a letter that says certain paperwork is due on a certain date, she can make sure everything is completed correctly and submitted on time.
When it comes to social programs, you risk losing benefits to which you’re entitled if you fill out the wrong form, follow the wrong automated phone prompts, or use the wrong terminology. You might have to wait on hold for more than an hour to speak with someone.
“Each appointment during a home visit to Nutley Senior Manor is usually at least an hour,” Molly said. “Calling social services can be confusing, so I get on the phone with clients and make sure they speak with the right person. Some people just give up because they’d rather lose the benefits than deal with the stress. I sit down with them, complete an assessment, go over their paperwork, and help them navigate the process.”
The more individuals interact with Molly, the more confident they feel to handle certain tasks on their own, but Molly is always there for them if they need help.
When Advocacy Makes a Difference
Molly recently met with a new client at Nutley Senior Manor. The man needed to change his address with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), request a home health aide through Medicaid, and respond to various paperwork.
He had also broken his prior lease and the management company was charging him $1,000. When Molly reviewed the lease agreement, she made the determination that the man was being overcharged. She found a copy of his bank statement and a copy of the check to match the statement number as proof that all fees were paid. After breaking down the numbers, Molly found that the management company owed the client money!
“People take advantage of seniors,” Molly said. “In this case, the numbers just didn’t add up so I called the management company. I told them what they’re doing isn’t right and they’re not abiding by their lease, and I showed them the documentation so our client wouldn’t be unfairly charged. Seniors often need someone on their side to advocate on their behalf. That’s what we do.”
If you know an individual who could be eligible for social service benefits but is overwhelmed by paperwork, long phone calls, automated prompts, and complex requirements, contact NFSB at 973-667-1884 and ask to speak with case management.