Benefits Counseling and Application Assistance, Information and Referral
EVERYONE GETS A BENEFITS CHECK UP! See what assistance is available to you. Call 413-527-6151 ext. 130 (Ashley) or ext. 137 (Linda) today.
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 or x 130 to speak with either of our Outreach Workers. Home visits to homebound Easthampton seniors, caregivers and family members by appointment.
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)
- AVOID DEBT with the help of Outreach staff. They will help you apply for UTILITY DISCOUNTS or UTILITY BUDGET PAYMENT PLANS. EACH MONTH PAY AT LEAST SOME OF YOUR BILL, ON TIME, until your applications for discounts, fuel assistance, or bill payment plans are processed. (You might be eligible for emergency financial help from the Friends of the COA. Call the Friends of the COA at 413-527-6151 ext. 140.)
- SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR FUEL ASSISTANCE. 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/re-certifications of fuel assistance from 11/1/23-4/30/24. Application help is available to people of all ages.
- 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 also 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.
Outreach staff can help you with:
- SNAP (food stamps/EBT) applications.
- Using your Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) benefit--money on your EBT card every month for fresh produce--it's for a generous amount of local farm-grown fruits and vegetables for the kitchen and food plants for the garden, so don't let it go unspent
- 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 prescriptions or go shopping with you
- Highland Valley Elder Services to-go meals: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week except holidays (for those not using Meals on Wheels)
- CISA Senior Fruit Share and other farm share programs
- Farmers' Market Coupons from Highland Valley Elder Services
- Brown Bag Delivery from the Food Bank
- Using the Food Pantry at Easthampton Community Center
Long Term Care
Outreach staff may be able to assist with limited counseling about long term care options, provide information and refer you for assistance. For more information, call Highland Valley Elder Services for more information about Options Counseling: 413-586-2000.