It may seem obvious that it’s important to check mail often and to respond when needed, but in the age of e-mail and online forms, sometimes so-called “snailmail” may be misplaced or forgotten – especially by those who have had to take over the task of checking the mailbox for a loved one. At ELET, we get more calls than we would like from folks who have missed or ignored important communications and are now in a bind. Failing to check for mail or to carefully read and reply to correspondence can have significant consequences, especially for individuals receiving public benefits.
Government benefits programs like Medicaid/TennCare, Medicare, or VA Aid and Attendance may rely exclusively on mail or fax for communications with benefits recipients. If you or your loved one is receiving public benefits, it is extremely important to check the mailbox daily to avoid having benefits cut off. TennCare, for instance, conducts an annual “redetermination” process. People who have already qualified for benefits may be required to re-submit information about their finances in order to demonstrate that they still meet the program’s requirements. Redetermination forms are mailed out to benefits recipients, and there is a tight deadline for completing these forms. If the completed form is not submitted in time, TennCare benefits will be lost.
It is also important to keep your or your loved one’s address up-to-date with government agencies. In addition to setting up a forwarding address with the post office, the person receiving public benefits should immediately update any relevant organizations about the change of address. Some agencies provide a change of address reporting form (TennCare’s is available here). It is always a good practice to follow up with a call to ensure the form was received and the benefits recipient’s address has been changed in the agency’s system.
The stresses of caregiving and of major life transitions associated with aging or disability can cause some seemingly little things to fall through the cracks – but sometimes those little things can make a world of difference. It may seem impossible to keep all the balls in the air. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with the details of your own or a loved one’s planning, it may be time to seek help. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about services that can help relieve stress, lighten the caregiver load, and allow the whole family to focus on valuable time together rather than sweating the small stuff.