News from the Reference Desk Category: Seniors

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Enrollment begins Sept 1

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Energy Assistanced has announced that the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local adminstering agencies and additional information about the program, click here, or call the energy assistance toll-free hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.


Insurance Enrollment Assistance

It’s the time of year when many health insurance decisions must be made. If you need assistance in determining the best options, here’s some help:

Medicare Open Enrollment:

The Medicare Open Enrollment period began on Oct. 15 and runs until Dec. 7. The Illinois Dept. on Aging offers assistance through the department’s Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP.) Their counselors can explain the drug, health, and supplemental plans that are available. The nearest SHIP sites are at Arlington Heights Senior Center (847/253-5532) and Wheeling Township (847/259-7730.) For additional SHIP information, call 800/252-8966 or click here .

The Village of Mount Prospect Human Services Department also offers assistance for Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) enrollment. Call 847/870-5680 to set up an appointment.

Affordable Care Act Marketplace:

The enrollment period for uninsured people to sign up for coverage through the Illinois Marketplace runs from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015. If you want your insurance coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2015, you must enroll by Dec. 15, 2014.

The Library is offering several programs to assist those using the Illinois Marketplace. Representatives from Get Covered Illinois will present an overview program,” Affordable Care Act Update,” on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. The Library will also host two enrollment events with trained navigators from Get Covered Illinois to provide assistance in navigating the site and signing up for insurance. The enrollment events are on Dec. 13, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2015,  from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 847/392-8682 ext. 227. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Benefit Access Program (formerly Circuit Breaker)

The Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief Grant and Illinos Cares Rx is no longer being funded, effective July 1, 2012. However, a few benefits are still being offered:

  • Seniors Free Transit Ride
  • The Persons with Disabilities Free Transit Ride
  • Secretary of State License Plate Discount

You must submit a Benefit Access Application online only. Paper applications are not available or accepted.

For more info, follow link to Illlinois Department on Aging or contact the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY).


Senior Job Seekers

AARP has a new employment site, You can log into it through your LinkedIn ID. It lists job openings from organizations with a commitment to hire older workers.

On a related note, MPPL is hosting a session on Tuesday 11/20/12 at 1:30p:

What the Senior Candidate Has to Offer: Wisdom, loyalty, experience – are you making the most of your marketable qualities as a mature job seeker? Bob Podgorski of St. Hubert Job and Networking Ministry will offer tips for presenting your skills and experiences as a senior candidate to a potential employer. Please register online or by calling 847-253-5675.

Social Security Benefit Estimates Now Available Online

Because of budgetary constraints, in 2011 the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped sending estimated Social Security benefit statements on paper. For a number of years these statements had been sent to all workers age 25 and older and not currently receiving Social Security benefits. In addition to listing a worker’s lifetime earnings record (the basis for Social Security benefits), the statements contained estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members.

This month (May, 2012), the SSA unveiled a program to provide the same information electronically, on the SSA website. Any individual who wishes to sign up must be at least age 18 and have a valid Social Security number, e-mail address, and United States mailing address. Create an account at

The new electronic version of the benefit estimate statement provides the same information as the paper statement, a worker’s lifetime earnings record and estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members. At the same time, the government has resumed mailing paper estimated benefit statements to workers age 60 and older who are not currently receiving Social Security benefits.

Choices for Caregivers

Marking caregiving decisions is difficult.  Deciding if a relative is ready for additional help, evaluating health issues, checking finances, and finding the right facility take time and patience.

The National Caregivers Library was created by FamilyCare America, Inc. and is one of the largest single sources of information and tools for caregivers and seniors in the country. 

The site provides guidelines for housing, health, and legal issues as well as ways for caregives to pay attention to their emotional needs and well being.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has a site for Nursing Homes in Illinois and shares criteria to select a nursing home, level of care expected, patient resident rights, and a Health Care Worker Registry. 

Social Security Benefit Statements Going Online

The SSA recently discontinued mailing annual estimates of benefits to future Social Security recipients.  In attempts to cut costs, this information will now be available on the SSA website, – then click on “Estimate Your Retirement Benefits”.

To receive information on earnings history or disability and survivor benefits, please call the agency at 1-800-772-1213.

The agency estimates svings of $60,000,000 annual by going online.  It plans to resume mailing paper statements to thos over 60 within the year.