Benefits Counseling and Application Assistance, Information and Referral
Services include health insurance counseling, application assistance for home energy programs offered by Community Action Pioneer Valley, and help with accessing food, meals, and other basic needs. Outreach staff can answer some questions about services for older people and their caregivers. If we don't know the answer, we will refer you to another community organization or government department.
Outreach staff meet with individuals, groups and families at their Easthampton work site, the Enrichment Center or at an Easthampton residence. This program is a free public service, funded through the City of Easthampton. Please call 413-527-6151 x 137 to speak with Outreach. Home visits to home bound Easthampton seniors, caregivers and family members by appointment.
Some services are scheduled through the Reception desk (press zero), some directly with Outreach (press 137).
Health Insurance Counseling
- MEDICARE counseling through SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone): free health insurance information and counseling to all Massachusetts residents with Medicare and to their caregivers. People who have Medicare or who are about to become eligible for Medicare can meet with a counselor to learn about benefits and options available. An ECOA Outreach SHINE counselor will review programs that help people with limited income to pay health care costs.
- MassHealth: The ECOA can provide information about applications. See a Certified MassHealth Counselor to help you manage your application.
- To learn more about how to access MassHealth: https://www.mass.gov/information-for-masshealth-applicants
- For the Senior Guide to Health Care Coverage: https://www.mass.gov/doc/senior-guide-to-health-care-coverage-4/download
- For a Certified MassHealth counselor:
- Cooley Dickinson Hospital Hampshire Health Connect Financial Counselors (by phone only)
- Outreach staff will help you fill out an application and maintain certification for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Known commonly as Fuel Assistance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides eligible households with help in paying a portion of winter heating bills. Appointments for applications/recertifications of fuel assistance are accepted through 4/30/23 for FUEL ASSISTANCE COVERAGE from 11/1/22-4/30/23.
- Outreach staff will connect you with the Heating System Repair & Replacement Program (HEARTWAP). The Heating System Repair and Replacement Program provides emergency heating system repair and replacement services to low-income households.
- Outreach staff will connect you with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program provides eligible households with full-scale home energy conservation services. THIS PROGRAM HAS A WAITING LIST.
Outreach staff can help you fill out an application for limited emergency assistance funds distributed by the Friends of the Council on Aging. Amounts range up to $1,000, and first time applicants are prioritized. If you have applied within the last 3 years, you will not be eligible until 3 years have passed. For additional emergency assistance, talk with our Outreach staff.
Outreach staff can help you with:
- SNAP (food stamps/EBT) applications
- Learning to shop for groceries online through with your EBT card, accessing discounts or free delivery from locally-owned food stores and farms
- Connecting with volunteers who can help pick up and deliver groceries and prescription or go shopping with you
- Highland Valley Elder Services meals (for those not using Meals on Wheels)
- Senior Fruit Share
- Farmers' Market Coupons from Highland Valley Elder Services (available mid-AUGUST 2022)
- Brown Bag Delivery from the Food Bank
- Using the Food Pantry at Easthampton Community Center
- Using your Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) benefit--money on your EBT card every month for fresh produce
Long Term Care
Outreach staff may be able to assist with limited counseling about long term care options and provide information and refer you for assistance. For more information, call Highland Valley Elder Services for more information at 413-586-2000.