general tips on helping your client access mainstream benefits programs,
choose one of the following questions or scroll down.
are some things you can do when you first meet a client who is
Tips for Case Managers
- Introduce yourself and give
a brief explanation of why you are going to be asking some
personal questions – to
help them get the help they need/want.
- Use open-ended questions such as when, where,
what, why, and who. For example, how do you usually pay for your
- Be honest with your client about how long it
may take to get enrolled in the various programs for which he/she
is applying and what local agencies can fill the gap while waiting
- Empower your client to become self-sufficient.
- Begin to build trust with your client,
but realize that trust building takes time.
- Do not judge your client or make him/her
feel like you are judging them.
- Do not assume your client's level of
functionality, for example, that he/she is able
to leave a message on an answering machine or
voice mail or use a telephone. You may need
to teach your client basic life skills.
- Do not assume that your client wants
can you help your clients successfully help themselves to access mainstream
The following is advice for both you and your clients about how to
interact with a local government office that administers mainstream
Tips for Case Managers
- Address your client’s most immediate
need first - to determine your client’s most immediate needs ask
questions such as are you hungry or are you sick. This may help you to
decide which benefit program to enroll your client into first.
- Help your client obtain documents - this may involve
contacting an immigration lawyer if your client is undocumented, obtaining
certificates, checking on and getting
Social Security number and card, getting an ID from the Department
of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and bringing a letter from a case manager or shelter
as proof of residency. You can also visit the National Center for
Health Statistics Web site, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm for information about where to access vital records in your state.
- Allow your client to be a part of the
- Help your client meet short-term goals
such as managing his/her time.
- Give your client a copy
of the Client
Benefit Worksheet, which is available in
the Tools & Resources
section of this CD-ROM. Show him/her how to
use the worksheet and explain the importance
of the worksheet to your client.
- Be sure to find out whether your state has a
single application by calling your state or local Continuum
of Care or local social service office.
- Some states have
online eligibility tools that you and your client can access
on the Internet. This can be very helpful
in assessing what types of benefits your client may be eligible for.
The Oregon Helps program is just one example, www.oregonhelps.org.
Tips to Share with Your Client
- Provide all relevant identification
and documentation or else your application may not be complete and
may not get processed.
- Be specific - answer questions honestly, clearly,
- Be assertive but respectful.
- Don’t leave confused
- ask to meet with a supervisor if you are confused or unsatisfied.
If you disagree with what someone is telling
you, ask to see the policy on which the response is based. If
you still don’t understand, ask for a copy of the policy and
take it to someone you trust to help you, such as a local program case
- Take notes - when you call or talk to the office, keep notes
and list the time, the date, and the name of the person you
and respond quickly to mail. Be sure to answer all questions
and to sign documents if requested. If you need assistance
understanding the mail,
ask someone you trust to help, such as a local program case
and keep copies – Make a photocopy of any paperwork
you are dropping off before you return it. Local program
free of charge. If you are dropping off information in
person, ask someone from the office to date it and make
a copy for
you. To avoid
try to keep copies of all papers received from, and given
to the benefits office. If possible, keep all paperwork
in one place.
- Ask for help - if you have difficulty managing
the application process,
find someone to act on your behalf. Also, you can get
free legal help from your local community legal aid office. This help
useful when seeking Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
are some general tips for accessing mainstream benefit programs?
- Find out about all the programs your
client may be eligible to receive and apply for them at one time, if
possible. For example, when assisting your client with the application
process for a particular program, tell the benefit representative about
your client and his/her needs. The benefit representative may be able
to help access other programs or may be able to use eligibility for
one program as a way to determine eligibility for other programs. For
instance, if your client receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
he/she may be automatically eligible for Medicaid.
- Keep in mind there
is not one program that should be accessed first. There may be multiple
programs your client is eligible for and
try to access all of them for your client.
- Collaborating with local partners and organizations is key to helping
your client access mainstream benefit programs.
- Forge relationships and network
with local mainstream program offices and let them try to help you
and your client.
- Accompany your client when he/she submits
- Allow your client to use your phone
to contact program offices.
- Help your client follow-up
and stay in touch with program offices.
- Make copies
of your clients’ applications and documentation for
- Provide your client
with something to communicate with you, such as the Client
Benefit Worksheet, which is available
in the Tools & Resources section of this CD-ROM.
- Provide your contact information
to your client.
can you help your client establish documentation?
- To show proof of
residency, give your client a letter with your name and your agency’s
- Most states will accept
a variety of forms of identification as valid
for accessing mainstream benefit programs. Do
not assume your client will need an official
state-issued identification card. Often times,
local program offices will accept a public library
card as positive identification.
- Use the agency/shelter address to obtain
a photo ID from the DMV.
- If your client has a Medicaid
card already, this can be used as proof of residency.
- To help your
client obtain a Social Security number or a replacement Social Security
card, visit the Social Security Administration
(SSA) Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
- To help your client
locate a copy of his/her birth certificate,
visit the Social Security Administration (SSA)
Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/vitalstats.html.
- You can visit the National Center for Health Statistics Web site,
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm for information about
where to access vital records in your
can you help your client if he/she is from a different state?
- For your client who is from another
state, it is important to get documents from him/her as soon as possible.
To access documents such as a birth certificate, you should contact
the state’s division of vital statistics and records or visit
the Social Security Administration (SSA) Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/vitalstats.html.
This will help to expedite the process of accessing certain benefits,
such as Medicaid and SSI.
can you help a client with a criminal record?
There are steps you can
take to help your client with a criminal record
as he/she moves towards self-sufficiency and back
into the workplace.
- Tell your client it is important to get
a copy of his/her criminal record.
- Obtain your client’s
criminal records from any court he/she has been in.
- Review your client’s records with
him/her and correct all mistakes by writing to either the Federal
Bureau of Investigation
local police station.
- Try to seal arrest records that did not lead
- Contact the FBI or your local police station.
- Try to have a first-time
drug conviction removed. You or your client
can ask the court to erase a conviction for
simple possession of drugs if your client has
no prior drug conviction, was granted probation
without judgment, and has successfully completed