Thousands of seniors in the Portland area are eligible for a variety of federal benefits but have not applied for them – pushing the Portland metro area to a rank of 23rd in the United States for "non-filers."
The good news is – it's not too late. County agencies are holding free events through Oct. 2 allowing seniors to drop in and file for benefits they have coming to them.
According to the IRS, an estimated 80,000 Oregon retirees who are eligible for the economic stimulus payment — a one-time check of up to $600 — have not sent in the simple tax form to apply for it. The deadline for applications is Oct. 15, 2008.
Another federal agency, the Social Security Administration, estimates that 5,146 people with Medicare coverage in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties may be eligible for help to buy their prescription medications, but have not yet applied for extra help with Medicare Part D.
"There are so many roadblocks we might not think of," said Paul Iarrobino of Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services. "First, it's a challenge to help people understand they do qualify for help. Next, it's the details. For example, a senior may not have had access to the right form. Maybe the print was too small, and they didn't understand help was available to fill out the form, or they didn't know where to go for help."
"We can help people in all these situations apply for benefits – they just need to contact us."
Multnomah County Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance volunteers, Multnomah County Aging Services staff and Veterans Services Officers, and AARP Tax-Aide Volunteers will hold events in four Multnomah County library branches to help seniors and people with disabilities apply for prescription assistance, the economic stimulus payments, veterans benefits and related programs.
There is no charge for this service. Volunteers are trained and certified. No appointments are being taken, so those who attend may expect a small wait if there is large attendance.
"Especially now, with economic times so tight for everyone, these benefits could make things easier," said Iarrobino. "We're glad to help people find out what they qualify for and assist with the applications."
Hollywood Library, Friday, Aug. 15, from noon to 3 p.m., and Thursday, September 4, 12:30 to 3 p.m., 4040 NE Tillamook St.
Midland Library, Thursday, Aug. 28, noon to 3 p.m., at 805 SE 122nd Ave.
St. Johns Library, Monday, Sept. 15, noon to 3 p.m., and Tuesday, September 30, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., 7510 N Charleston Ave.
Woodstock Library, Thursday, Sept. 18, noon to 3 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 2, noon to 3 p.m., 6008 SE 49th Ave.
For Tax Help, bring with you:
Total income for 2007 (Social Security and other sources); picture identification; if filing jointly, both must be there to sign the forms.
For Medicare/Prescription Benefits programs, bring: red-white-and-blue Medicare card; any other health insurance cards; total monthly income amount; info about total amount in checking, savings or other resource accounts; home address, mailing address if different, and phone number.
Only walk-ins are allowed; no appointments are needed. For more information contact the Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services Helpline at 503-988-3646.
For more information about the events, call the Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services Helpline at 503-988-3646.
In addition, CASH Oregon in partnership with AARP Tax-Aide, has free tax preparation sites. Call 503-243-7765 to make an appointment. An online web tool is available at www.aarp.org/stimulushelp for completing the tax form online.