Frequently Asked Questions


Assistive Technology

  1. What is assistive technology?

    Assistive technology refers to the gadgets and gizmos that help people with a disability accomplish the tasks of everyday living, communication, education, work and recreation activities.

    These tools help people gain a better quality of life and greater independence.

  2. Where can I find assistive technology and is there any help to pay for it?

    You can contact your local independent living center (see our database). They can help you assess what items might be useful for you and even let you try them out for a while. They can also let you know of funding sources, such as Wisloan, that can reduce the cost for you. Remember, there are a lot of things lying around your house or that you can even pick up from your local hardware store that can help you remain independent. Call your local ADRC for more information.

Caregiver Support

  1. Does Medicare pay for in-home help?

    Only when it follows a hospitalization and is ordered by a doctor. Most in-home help is paid for out of your own pocket. If you are lower income, contact us at (866)743-5144.

  2. Who can I talk to about memory concerns?

    The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24 hour help line, 1-800-272-3900. You can also call us at (866)743-5144 for more resources.

  3. What is an adult day center?

    Adult day care is a group program in which elderly and disabled adults can spend a few hours on a daily basis away from home. They participate in activities, exercise, eat lunch and socialize in a safe, supervised setting while their family caregiver gets a break. There is an affordable daily fee and transportation is provided. Day care in this area is specifically for those experiencing Alzheimer’s or a related dementia such as from a stroke. Check our data base or call us at (866)743-5144 for more information about Adult day care in your area.

  4. I need a break from taking care of my spouse. What are my options?

    Options vary depending on where you live. There are agencies that provide supportive home care whose employees would come to your home. They can provide anything from being a companion to assisting in the bathroom. You pay for these services yourself unless you spouse is eligible for Family Care. There may be adult day services in your community. You may be able to hire someone privately through advertizing. Check our data base or call us at (866)743-5144 for more specific information.

  5. Is there someone I can talk to about caring for my family member?

    Yes, you can call us at (866)743-5144 and talk to an information & assistance specialist.

    That person can assess your specific need and help you find the information you need and the people who can help you the best.


  1. What is a guardian?

    A person with a severe cognitive disability may be unable to exercise some or all of his or her own rights or to protect his or her own interests. A guardian is a person appointed by a court to take the place of the person in exercising the rights he or she is unable to exercise, to make (or help make) decisions the person is unable to make independently, and to be an advocate for the person’s interests. A guardian can only exercise powers that the state law and court order provide.

  2. What are the different kinds of guardians?

    There are two basic kinds of guardians, a guardian of the estate and a guardian of the person. A court appoints a guardian of the estate for a person who is incompetent to handle his or her own finances. A court appoints a guardian of the person for a person who is incompetent to provide or arrange for personal needs, such as the need for shelter, food, medical care, or social services. A guardian can be appointed for both.

  3. What is the process to obtain a guardianship?

    Contact your local county Register in Probate, located in your local courthouse, for the paperwork. If you need help with the paperwork and its legalities, you can hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer and the person is receiving Medicaid, then call us at (866)743-5144 and we may be able to help.

  4. What is a Power of Attorney document and do I need one?

    Everyone should complete a Power of Attorney for both health care and financial decisions while you are of sound mind. This is also known as an advance directive. These documents appoint a person who would serve as your decision making person in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself. This way you wouldn’t need a guardian. It is very important to communicate your wishes to the person you appoint in advance. You can follow this link: to fill out the documents online.


  1. How do I know which assisted living facility is right for me?

    All assisted living facilities combine housing with services to help people remain as independent as possible. Call us at (866)743-5144 for a checklist to help you evaluate each facility. There are three types:

    • Adult Family Home: A place where three or four adults, who are not related to the licensee, reside and receive care, treatment or services that are above the level of room and board, but include no more than three hours of nursing care per week per resident.
    • Community-Based Residential Facility: A place where five or more adults, who are not related to the administrator, reside and receive care, treatment or services that are above the level of room and board, but include no more than three hours of nursing care per week per resident.
    • Residential Care Apartment Complex: A place where five or more adults reside that consists of independent apartments, each of which has an individual lockable entrance and exit, a kitchen, including a stove, and an individual bathroom, sleeping and living areas, and that provides to a person who resides in the place, no more than 28 hours per week of services that are supportive, personal and nursing services.
  2. How do residents pay for their care and services in assisted living?

    Medicare does not cover services in an assisted living facility. Payments may come from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • Personal Resources: Including savings accounts, pensions, insurance, veterans care benefits, or Social Security and related benefits such as SSI and SSI-E.
    • State and Federal Funding: For home and community based long term care may be available for eligible participants through our regional “Family Care” provider; Western Wisconsin Cares. For more information, contact us at (866)743-5144 before moving into an assisted living facility.

    Assisted living facilities are required to provide or arrange these five basic services to all residents, if needed:

    • Health monitoring
    • Assistance with medications
    • Information and referral services
    • Leisure time services, and Personal care services such as help with dressing, eating, bathing, grooming, toileting and mobility
  3. What is the difference between subsidized housing and section 8 housing?

    Subsidized housing consists of properties that housing authorities own and the tenants pay 30% of their rent. The section 8 voucher program is for individuals and families that want to rent from a private landlord. If the unit qualifies, the tenants pay 30% of their rent and the rest is paid by the voucher. Contact your local housing authority for more information. For a list of the housing authorities that serve you, contact us at (866)743-5144 or check out our database for resources.

Public Benefits

  1. How do I apply for Social Security and SSI disability benefits?

    Much of the application can be completed on-line at Or you can call your local Social Security office or the national Social Security call center at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply for benefits. Even if you submit your application on-line, you still need to call to make an appointment to finish the application. If you need help filling out the on-line forms, you can call one of our Disability or Elderly Benefits Specialists at (866)743-5144.

  2. Social Security says I’ve been overpaid—what should I do?

    Contact us at (866)743-5144 to discuss your situation with the Elder Benefits Specialist or the Disability Benefits Specialist. They can explain your choices and help you file an appeal or a waiver request.

  3. My child’s been on SSI and now that he’s turned 18, Social Security says he’s no longer disabled. What can I do about this?

    You can contact the Disability Benefits Specialist at (866)743-5144. She can find out why your child is no longer getting SSI, may advocate for your child, and can assist you in filing appeals.

  4. What should I do to keep my Medicaid from ending next month like the letter says?

    If you are age 60 or older, contact the Elder Benefit Specialist and if you are between 18 and 60, contact the Disability Benefit Specialist. These benefits specialists can work with you and your economic support worker to resolve the problem if possible.

  5. Where can I get help finding a job since my disability keeps me from being able to do my regular work?

    We can help you connect with agencies that can help you find work or can help you get the retraining you need to get back to working.

  6. Where can I get some help with filling out a Medicaid form?

    You can apply for Medicaid and Badgercare on line at You can also call us at (866)743-5144 to make an appointment with the Elder Benefits Specialist if you’re age 60 or more or with the Disability Benefits Specialist if you’re between 18 and 60 and disabled.

  7. My sister gets only a small Social Security disability check and wants to know about getting SSI as well.

    SSI disability is a program for people who have very low income and very limited assets, not counting the house a person lives in and one car. Your sister can contact the Social Security office to apply for SSI or she can call the national Social Security call center at 1-800-772-1213 for more information.

  8. I’m on SSI and I didn’t get my state supplement check this month. What can I do about that?

    You can contact your local economic support worker at your county department of health and human services to find out what happened to the check or you can call the Recipient’s Call Line in Madison at 1-800-362-3002 to report that you didn’t receive the check.

  9. I’m getting SSI disability and I need help doing my housework and laundry but can’t afford to hire anyone. Is there any help for that?

    Contact us at (866)743-5144 and ask to apply for an “SSI-E assessment.” If you qualify, you can get some extra money from the state to pay for these kinds of services.

  10. Since I had to quit my job to stay home and care for my disabled husband, is there any way I can get paid for this?

    Unfortunately, there is not any program that will pay you for caring for a family member. You may want to contact us at (866)743-5144 to find out if there are any programs that can help reduce some of your other household expenses, such as Food Share and Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program.

  11. Can I file for Homestead Tax Credit if I’m on SSI and Social Security?

    Yes, you can. Anyone in the state of Wisconsin who is low income can file for Homestead Tax Credit for this year as well as for some past years if you didn’t file then. Our Elderly Benefits Specialists and Disability Benefits Specialists can help you with this.

  12. Can I work and still get my SSI and Social Security disability benefits?

    Absolutely. The Social Security Administration encourages disabled people to work if they can. However, there are limits to how much you can earn and still keep your benefits. You can contact the local Social Security office or the national Social Security call center at 1-800-772-1213 for more information. You can also contact your local ADRC for more information.

  13. Can I set up a small in-home business if I’m on SSI?

    Yes, you can. Your local DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) office may be able to assist you in developing your business. You should also contact the Social Security office to find out how much you can earn and still keep your SSI benefits and how you will report you income to them.

  14. I get both Social Security and SSI disability benefits and I would like to save money to go to school. Is this possible?

    Social Security offers a “PASS” program for disabled people like you who need to save money to go to school or start a business. You must have an approved PASS plan in place before you begin saving money.

    This program allows you to save up your Social Security money for education or business development while it increases your SSI check so you have about the same amount of monthly income. Also, the $2000 asset limit is waived with the PASS program.

    You will want to discuss this with your local Social Security office and/or call the Disability Benefits Specialist at (866)743-5144 to get more information about this program. Also, you can contact your local DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) office for help in setting up your PASS plan.

  15. Can a disabled person get any help paying their property taxes?

    No. In Wisconsin, the only property tax relief program is for low income seniors.

  16. I’m not eligible for regular Medicaid because my income from Social Security disability and a part time job is too high. Are there any other medical insurance programs for me?

    You can apply for Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP) which is a Medicaid program for working disabled people with income too high for regular Medicaid. If you don’t qualify, you can check out the HIRSP program disabled people at or you can call them at 1-800-828-4277 for more information and/or to apply.

  17. Will getting a divorce affect my Social Security disability benefits?

    Probably not, but you should contact your local Social Security office to make sure and to find out if there are any other benefits for you as a divorced disabled person.

  18. Can I get disability benefits even though I’m 62 and drawing my retirement benefits?

    Yes, you can. If Social Security determines that you meet the medical criteria for disability, you will probably be entitled to a larger monthly check than what you’re getting now. You also will be eligible for Medicare 24 months after you are eligible for disability benefits and you may qualify for Medicaid as well. Contact your local Social Security office to apply. Our local Elder Benefits Specialist (866)743-5144 may be able to assist you with the application as well.

  19. I don’t think my representative payee is handling my money very well. What can I do about this?

    You need to speak with someone at your local Social Security office about the situation. If you have proof that your representative payee is misusing your money, Social Security may appoint a new payee for you. Our Elderly Benefits Specialists and/or Disability Benefits Specialists can assist you if needed.

  20. Are there any programs to help disabled farmers keep farming?

    Yes. In Wisconsin, we have the AgrAbility program. You can go find out more at their website or call them at 1-608-262-9336 or for TTY users: 1-800-947-3529.

  21. What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid (also known as the “Forward” card, MA)?

    Medicare is insurance you sign up for when you turn age 65. Medicaid is a government supported benefit that covers all medical expenses for low-income people.

  22. What happens to me if my spouse has to go live in a nursing home?

    There are certain protections designed to ensure the at home spouse does not lose their home or become impoverished because their husband or wife had to move into a nursing home and go onto the Medicaid program. This is called “Spousal Impoverishment Protection” and applies when only one spouse must go to a nursing home and the other can remain living at home. For more specific information on this protection, contact one of our local ADRC Benefit Specialists at (866)743-5144 for more detail.

Prescription Drug Coverage

  1. Is there any way I can get help paying for medications since I no longer have health insurance?

    You can go to to see if you qualify for free or reduced cost medications. You may also contact our staff at (866)743-5144 and receive help finding ways of paying for medications and other health care costs.

  2. How can I help someone get on Medicare Part D?

    You can go to Medicare’s website, The links there can help you find a Medicare Part D plan. If you like you can call the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline at 1-800-926-4862 if you are between 18 and 60 and disabled. You may wish to make an appointment with one of the Benefits Specialists at our ADRC by calling (866)743-5144 to help chose a Medicare Part D plan.

  3. What can I do about my Medicare Part D plan that suddenly stopped covering one of my medications?

    You can contact our benefits specialists at (866)743-5144 or call the Disability Drug Help Line at 1-800-926-4862 or the Medicare Part D Information Line at 1-800-633-4227 for help with this problem.

Staying at Home

  1. I want to remain in my own home, but I need a little help. What services are available to me?

    It is very possible for you to remain in your own home and there are a number of options to help you out. You can hire someone from an agency or an individual to provide home and supportive services, like light house cleaning and help with getting dressed. You can pay privately for these services or sometimes, long-term care insurance will cover the cost. Depending on your specific needs, from nutrition to finances, there are many resources that can help you live independently at home. You should call and speak with an information and assistance specialist at one of our Aging & Disability Resource Center offices to discuss your options.

    Check out the long-term care page on this web site for more information too.

  2. How do I get around if I cannot drive?

    There are many options depending on where you live. Check out the database of our web site or call us at (866)743-5144 to find out what options are available to you.

  3. My vision is making it hard for me to do things around the house. Is there anything available that can help me?

    You can contact your local rehabilitation specialist from the state office for the blind and visually impaired. They can come to your home and help adapt your home to make is safer and easier for you. Also you can call us at (866)743-5144 for their number.