Health Insurance / Legal & Other Assistance Programs

SHINE - Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders
This program provides free health insurance information, assistance, and counseling to Medicare beneficiaries of all ages and their caregivers. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs supports the SHINE program in partnership with elder service agencies and Councils on Aging. SHINE counselors help elders and all Medicare beneficiaries understand their rights and benefits under Medicare and their other health insurance coverage. Counselors also review present coverage, provide written benefits comparisons, prevent consumers from buying unnecessary or duplicate coverage, and help prepare health benefit claim forms, appeals, and applications. All information is kept strictly confidential.

If you have questions concerning health insurance, Medicare, (including the new Medicare D), Prescription Advantage (the state funded drug assistance program),  Medigap, or Medicaid, please call the Council on Aging Office to request an appointment.  SHINE dates may be found in the calendar section of the current newsletter.

Legal Assistance
Massachusetts elders are entitled to free legal services from the Merrimack Valley Legal Services, Inc. office in matters involving tenants’ rights, family law, consumer law (bankruptcies), Social Security benefits, guardianship, health insurance appeals, and some other areas. M.V.L.S. does not deal with wills, estate planning, property issues, or criminal matters. Call the C.O.A. Office or M.V.L.S. at 1.800.427.2521

Food Assistance - S.N.A.P: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps low income individuals and famililes purchase healthy, nutritous food.  The Elder SNAP Application has fewer questions and is easier to read.  To apply, call the SNAP Hotline at 1 (866) 950-3663 and request the Elder SNAP Application if you are a Senior (age 60 or older).  Call the Council on Aging Office if you would like assistance with the application.

Fuel Assistance
Community Action in Haverhill serves low income residents of Newbury by paying a portion of the cost of home heating (oil, gas, or electric; partial rental payments may also be covered if heat is included in the rent). Applications are accepted in November and are available at the C.O.A. Office or directly from C.A. 1.978.373.1971. In addition, many local fuel suppliers will work out payment plans (some with discounts) with their elder customers.

Utility Discounts
National Grid (the electric company) accepts Fuel Assistance eligibility, and several additional means-based public benefit programs such as S.S.I., MassHealth, Food Stamps, in consideration of a discounted rate. Contact numbers are available on the monthly bills or call the C.O.A. Office for assistance.