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The Benefits Counseling Program

BP Spotlight: Highlighting Programs and Services of Body Positive

August 2001

Article: The Benefits Counseling Program

What Is the Benefits Counseling Program?

The Benefits Counseling Program at Body Positive is designed to help those living with HIV/AIDS receive needed aid from various programs and agencies. Since the process of getting benefits is often a confusing and difficult endeavor, Marty Kraushar, the benefits counselor here at Body Positive can get you started by helping you to figure out where to go and what to do. Marty is in his seventh year of benefits counseling, so he will know what needs to be done to make the process run smoothly. The idea is to make people aware of what they are entitled to so they can receive the care they need.

How Does it Work?

There are many organizations out there that provide services to assist people with HIV/AIDS. The trick is to find out what you are eligible for and to process the appropriate paperwork as quickly as possible. Benefits can include, but are not limited to, medical insurance, life insurance, pharmaceutical assistance, Medicaid, disability, food stamps, Medicare, ADAP and AHIP. All of these programs are intended to help people manage any life adjustments that may arise as a result of having HIV/AIDS, as well as helping them apply to become clients of the New York City Division of AIDS Services and Income Support (DASIS). Determining eligibility for many of these benefits is based on factors such as annual income, assets and citizenship background, so it may be necessary to bring in the appropriate documentation along when you come in.

What to Expect

When a client comes in for counseling, Marty will assess their situation and will then determine which benefits they are entitled to. He first addresses the issues that the client feels are most important and then makes suggestions based on his significant knowledge and experience. He will then proceed by making appointments with the relevant agencies and, if possible, provide the appropriate paperwork to be filled out. It is essential to get the paperwork processed correctly and quickly in order to obtain aid. If necessary, Marty will also advocate for a client when problems arise with difficult agencies, as well as provide support for recertifications and fair hearings. Marty considers himself to be working at a partial case management level, without leaving the office.


About the Benefits Counseling Program

Since June 1999, the Benefits Counseling Program has achieved a great deal of success. As of April 2001, the program has aided approximately 1,000 people in attaining much needed assistance, half of whom are ongoing clients. The others are those who have returned for counseling on multiple occasions. This growth can be attributed to the growing need for AIDS-related benefits, as well as an increased success and recognition of the program.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call the office at (212) 566-7333 or the Helpline at (800) 566-6599. Marty is in the office Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am and 3pm. The office is located in the South Street Seaport at 19 Fulton Street, Suite 308B, New York, NY 10038. Walk-ins are welcome, but may be subject to a wait if there is a scheduled appointment in progress.


As anyone who's tried to get AIDS-related benefits knows, getting what you need and are entitled to can be complicated. That's why we have a Benefits Counseling Program. Our Counselor, Marty, can help you negotiate the maze of programs and requirements and come out on the other end with both your benefits and your dignity. Here are some of the programs Marty can help you with:
  • ADAP Plus
    Free medical services, including drug assistance, primary care, and home care for people with HIV/AIDS. (NY State)

  • AIDS Health Insurance Program (AHIP)
    Helps people with HIV/AIDS maintain their insurance coverage after loss or reduction of employment. Pays health insurance premiums for persons enrolled. (NY State/City)

  • Child Health Plus
    Free or low-cost coverage through managed care organizations for children from low- and moderate-income families. Fees based on income. (Federal/NY State)

  • Division of AIDS Services and Income Support (DASIS)
    Provides specialized services to HIV-positive individuals and families, including assessment, information, referral services, and assistance in applying for benefits and services. (NY City)

  • Food Programs/Emergency Food
    Free meals or supplies of nonperishable food from food pantries, meal sites, and soup kitchens operated by churches and social service organizations. (NY City)

  • Food and Nutrition Program (FAN)
    Food packages with nutritional supplements, such as formula, cereal, powdered milk, juices, for women and children. (NY City)

  • Food Stamps
    Coupons issued monthly to supplement food budget. Value of coupons depends on household size and income. (Federal)

  • Half-Fare Program (Reduced Fare)
    Reduced fare on public transportation for the disabled. (NY City)

  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
    Grants up to $315 per season to assist in meeting household fuel and utility bills. Emergency benefits also available. (Federal)

  • Medicaid
    Comprehensive healthcare for prescription drugs, physicians' services, hospital, nursing home, and home care. (Federal/NY State)

  • Medicare
    Part A: Coverage for acute hospital care, limited coverage for skilled nursing facility, home health, and hospice care.

    Part B: Partial coverage for physician services, home health visits and durable medical equipment. Both parts have deductibles and co-insurance. (Federal)

  • Verizon Discount Program
    Discount on residential telephone services and connection charges. (NY State)

  • New York Disability Workers Compensation (On the Job)
    Biweekly cash benefits depending on wages before disability and degree of disability. Medical care and other needed services. Dependents' and survivors' benefits. (NY State)

  • Public Assistance
    Biweekly cash benefits for essential shelter, food, clothing, and other needs. Medicaid benefits. Benefits level determined by income and household needs. (NY State)

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
    Monthly cash benefits to disabled workers and their families based on prior payroll contributions. Medicare after 24 months after disability. (Federal)

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    Monthly cash benefits for people 65 and older, blind or disabled. Automatic Medicaid coverage. Amount of benefit based on income and living arrangement. Disabled children may also receive benefits. (Federal)

  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
    Food supplements such as formula, cereal, juice, milk, eggs and cheese obtained by food checks redeemed at grocery store. (Federal)

. . . and others, including Access-a-Ride, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Excess Income Spend Down (using cost of ADAP-funded medicines to reduce coverage, thereby establishing eligibility), etc.

Lori Thomas is a Body Positive intern.

Back to the August 2001 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.
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