Part of my job is assisting our clients with the recertification process with the Welfare office. That means helping them with all the paperwork to continue with Medicaid benefits – health insurance from the State, without health insurance they won’t receive home health aide services.
I have known Mrs. AT for seven years. I have helped her in different kinds of situations, including Medicaid benefits. She is an 88-year-old lady, very polite and sweet in a wheelchair. She was born in Turkey, and although she speaks English, she cannot read and write well in English. Mrs. AT lives alone and has three children, two of whom live outside the State, and the daughter, who lives in New Jersey, cannot help her because of her health condition.
Seven years ago, Mrs. AT’s health condition worsened. In the last month, she has been taken to the emergency room on two or three occasions.
Last week, Mrs. AT asked the home health aide to call me because she was apprehensive about the letters she received from the Welfare office. She wants me to visit to review the mail, and I told her probably the letters were about the recertification process. Then I set up my visit on Monday, December 12.
When I arrived at Mrs. AT’s home, nobody answered the phone or opened the door. I called the home health aide, and she apologized because she forgot to contact me to inform me that the client was at the hospital.
On Tuesday, December 13, the home health aide called me to inform Mrs. AT was home, and I set up a new visit on Wednesday, December 14.
When I arrived home, I noticed that Mrs. AT had deteriorated in her health and was worried about losing Medicaid benefits. And her worries were genuine. She received two letters to do the recertification, the first one in October and the second in November; the deadline was November 21.
The Welfare office asked Mrs. AT to send the last twelve bank statements and the Social Security benefits letter. She had eight bank statements but not the letter from Social Security. We were on the phone for more than an hour with the Social Security office, and finally, we got somebody to answer the phone. Mrs. AT will receive a letter in five or ten business days.
While we called the social security office, I tried to call the Welfare office through another phone.
After three hours, a lady from the Welfare office answered the phone. She told me she didn’t belong to the program and that I needed to reach out. I explained to her Mrs. AT’s situation, and she understood and told me she would go to the ABD department to ask for help- This was the first gift. I gave her Mrs. AT’s phone number, and I recommend being patient because she needs time to answer the phone. Moreover, I gave my cell phone number too. After this explanation, she asked if I could stay with the client because she would tell somebody to call me. I said I would be there until someone called the client or called me. The lady said, “Could you wait for around 20 minutes”, and my answer was yes.
I explained to Mrs. AT that somebody from the Welfare office would call us, and she was happy to hear it because it was hard for somebody to answer the phone for more than three hours.
After less than twenty minutes, a supervisor called me, I explained the case, and she advised me to send the paperwork as soon as I collected it, and the client won’t lose her benefits. I was pleased to hear that, and I told her it was a perfect Christmas gift for Mrs. AT. I explained this to Mrs. AT; she recovered her hope and was very happy too.
Sometimes we lose the real sense of life at Christmas time. The first gift we receive daily is to be alive; the second is the satisfaction of helping others. The third is to assist our clients and get the best results when they need all our help. And fourth is having the opportunity to do it daily through our job.
Liliana M. Villanueva CSW
Director of Social Service Department
December 14, 2022