Get a NY Connects Benefits Checkup

NY Connects at CIDNY is the trusted place to go for free, unbiased information about services, resources, and supports for New Yorkers of all ages and with any type of disability.

Counselors at NY Connects provide guidance and coordination for participants with disabilities as they go through eligibility and assessment processes for benefits and services. They can also help when you are completing applications and enrolling in public assistance benefits, like Medicaid, Medicare, housing applications, SNAP applications, Social Security benefits, and more.

To be contacted by a NY Connects Benefits Counselor and receive your free benefits check-up, please fill out this short form. A NY Connects Counselor will be in touch by the end of next business day. You can also contact us at 844-862-7930.




NY Connects


Benefits Assistance

Benefits Assistance

  • Center for the Independence of the Disabled, New York has partnered with the National Council on Aging to help New Yorkers over 50 and New Yorkers with disabilities to find out what benefits or services they qualify for. Please fill out the form below (only the fields with an *asterisk are required) and our intake specialist will reach out to you within two business days. We look forward to working with you!
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Helen Ha to Retire

Helen Ha, a Benefits Counselor at CIDNY for 10 years, is retiring in February. Helen is a native Chinese speaker and a great asset for her ability to connect with the Asian American community in NYC.

She plans to babysit her first granddaughter, to travel (including a visit to her native China), and to be more active physically. She looks forward to bringing the knowledge and skills she’s acquired to help her peers navigate applications as they also reach retirement.

Helen has three children, an older son who works in computer science, a younger son who is a doctor, and a daughter who is transitioning from international marketing to a career in nursing. She calls CIDNY her “first family,” since “you’re there from 9 to 5.”

After raising her three kids, Helen started her work in benefits advisement by working part-time doing outreach for the legally blind. She then worked at Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for 10 years, helping seniors and people with disabilities to connect with benefits, and helping people displaced by fires or other emergencies. Then she joined the team at CIDNY, where she first helped people access health care benefits before becoming a generalist and helping with a host of benefits. “I learned a lot,” she recalls fondly of each experience.

“I find if I can help someone, I feel good,” she says. As a person who is about to retire and a diabetic, Helen also sees for herself how complicated it can be to navigate options

Helen shared a recent story about a long time CIDNY participant who had a problem with prescription coverage, which can change every year. A hand lotion that he needed retailed for $5,000; the generic version was $2,000. But he had enrolled in a plan that didn’t cover the prescription. Helen found that his previous plan only charged a small premium for the medication, and then she was able to get him back on that original plan. “It made me happy,” she says, smiling.

“Helen brought first-hand knowledge of the Asian community to CIDNY and some of the issues these consumers face as new Americans transitioning to the complex, diverse cultural life of NYC,” says Paula Wolff, Senior Benefits Counselor. “With her strong knowledge of health care benefits, she enabled consumers to enter and navigate the complicated health care services web to achieve their goals of optimum wellness. She did all of this with a calm, even [demeanor]. She’ll be missed.”

We thank Helen for her service and dedication to our consumers and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Michael’s Story

I moved into my first apartment in Westchester when I turned 21. I was excited to finally have my own place as I was the youngest of three children growing up in a small house in Bellerose, Queens.

I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 and my disease was progressing. The four story walk up I had moved into went from being a fascinating and active home to being a challenging and eventually harmful place to be.

I began to have weakness in my right leg, among other symptoms, and falling became a problem. I fell on my way to my building. I fell going up the stairs and I fell inside my apartment. I was very lucky though: the worst fall I ever had left me with only a concussion, stitches, and a sprained knee.

My doctor advised me that I should seek treatment in a place that was more conducive to treatment to help avoid worsening symptoms. I began seeing doctors in specialized medical centers in Manhattan.

As my condition progressed, I began experiencing challenges commuting. It was difficult taking care of myself because transportation took so much energy from me, not to mention the daily chores that kept getting done poorly or not at all. I hoped to stay in my apartment for a little while more, save some money, and perhaps meet someone to start a family. But the small savings I had quickly diminished from transportation, tuition, and medical bills. I continued on for a few years like that, enduring relapses and then some remissions, but overall, my illnesses continued to progress.

Eventually, I could no longer pay rent and had considerable trouble taking care of myself. It was time to swallow my pride and ask for help before things got worse. I tried talking to others in similar situations in physical therapy or support groups. I went on endless internet searches and even good old fashioned trips to the library. Also, doctors, social workers, and medical staff advised me of other options, but no one, including myself, could fully grasp my medical conditions and ensure a way for me to survive on my own in a stable, safe, and healthy manner for the long term.  

At this point, working part time actually made me sicker and never paid enough. My illnesses were variable and getting the right course of action was tricky. I had to apply for benefits.

I sought help from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society,  CHOICE of New Rochelle, and other agencies, which were helpful in finding resources, counseling, and advocacy. I graduated from college and lived in my own apartment while dealing with relapses and life in general.

Eventually, a peer referred me to the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. CIDNY counselors helped me find updated housing and employment information, maintain proper health insurance, and find affordable, ongoing treatment.  

Finding housing during this moment in my life was a huge challenge now that my illness was progressing.

I had to learn so many things to accomplish my goal of remaining independent. I had trouble explaining the details of my situation because I had new symptoms that affected my cognitive functioning. I couldn’t process many things around me effectively, especially when faced with deadlines or long wait times at government agencies.  

My counselors learned the details of my situation and how my illness was affecting me. I was advised about proper terminology, programs, employment issues, and an impressive amount of opportunities available to the disabled community. I got excited and thought I could finally get my life on track.

Yet, there were more challenges in finding proper accessible housing, going back to work, and maintaining healthcare while trying to manage an illness.

Deadlines came and challenges were placed in front of me. I had to accept that returning back to work may not be a reality, at least not anytime soon.   

After working with counselors who got to know me and my situation, years of forms and filing, something started to click and I learned how to better advocate for myself. I learned about laws that protect disabled people and programs that were becoming available. Most importantly, I learned how to find proper healthcare and housing and take action when appropriate. It took me about six years before I actually got a place that was suitable for me.  

I often turned to my counselors and told them I couldn’t do it without them. They would tell me, “You were the one who did the work.”

I still have a way to go on my journey and my illness will continue to progress, but so will my life. Since working with CIDNY and the MS Society, I have married the most loving woman on Earth, improved my diet and exercise routine, found more suitable housing, and, of course, maintained medical treatment.  

I’m aware the journey will go on and there will always be more to learn, especially during challenging times, but I know there are good places to rely on for answers and support, and the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York is definitely one of them.

I still go to the CIDNY offices now. But lately, it’s to get help for my parents, to advocate, or to volunteer—which is one of the greatest kicks of all.