How to find a Case Worker or Social Worker to help you with whatever it is you are needing help with.
🌷 Public Mental Health or Behavioral Health Agencies are often the best place to get a case worker or social worker. These programs serve people with a history of mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities.
🌷 If you are not currently a client, you may be able to become a client and ask to get assigned a caseworker. Even if you do not have a previous history of mental illness diagnosis, you may be eligible if you are struggling with mental health issues.
🌷 Many of our readers report that this was the only agency in their area where they were able to get an ongoing caseworker who was helpful in a variety of areas.
🌷 Readers report that in other programs they were often given case workers who could only help a limited amount or for a limited time.
More Places to Look for Social Worker
🌷 If your doctor works as part of a hospital or university network, you can request that your doctor gives you a referral to an appointment with a Social Worker in their system.
🌷 Area Agency on Aging (Call them even if you are young! They also serve younger people with disabilities.)
🌷 Also check this Eldercare Locator (Again, any age)
🌷 You can try your local community action agency. Ask if they provide case workers or if they can tell you where to call to find one.
🌷 Centers for Independent Living are run by people with disabilities and may have case workers on staff, or be able to help connect you to other disability resources in your area.
🌷 If you are in a Home Care program through Medicaid or Medicare they may be able to send a Social Worker or Case Worker to come to your house. In many cases these Social Workers can only help you with issues directly related to the home care program, but it is still worth asking.
🌷 State home care programs will allow you to select your own aide. It can be a friend, family member or neighbor, or you can advertise for someone to hire (the state pays the salary.) Some of our readers specifically looked for aides who are helpful with scheduling appointments, making phone calls, organizing medical paperwork, driving to doctor appointments, etc.
🌷 Legal aide programs may be able to assist if you are having a problem with housing, medicaid, food stamps or other benefits programs.
🌷 If you are dealing with serious illness, see if there are any Palliative Care Programs in your area. These programs can provide caseworkers and other services. You can also look at Hospice and Palliative Care (some hospice programs are for end-of-life only, but some will serve other populations)
🌷 Don’t be afraid to reach out to local organizations and ask for help. The worst they can say is no, and if they cant help you, they may know someone who can! Try Veterans Administration, Health Clinics, Homeless Agencies, and your local Department of Social Services or Family Services. Also check 211.org – or dial 2-1-1 on your phone
🌷 In Minnesota: Highly recommended by readers: Minnesota Disability Hub
🌷 Your local department of Social Services may have Social Workers on staff. Many of our readers report they were not able to get a great deal of help this way, but it is worth trying. These agencies may be called “family services” or “social services” or “health and human services” or something else in your state.
🌷 If you have health insurance, you can contact your insurance company and ask if they have any kind of nurse coordinator or case manager who can help you coordinate your healthcare needs. (Warning: Mixed responses from readers. Some report these positions are very helpful. Others say they look for ways to cut services to help the insurance company save money.)
🌷 If you are homeless and have a mental illness diagnosis, you can look into Supportive Housing programs. Some of these programs provide safe, affordable housing as well as on-site case workers. Google “supportive housing” and the name of your state.
🌷 Some insurance programs have social workers available for appointments. You can contact your insurance to see if they offer this.
🌷 Finally, if you are ever in the hospital, you can request to meet with the hospital Social Worker. They can assist you while you are in the hospital. You can also ask them how you can continue to get help after you leave the hospital.
Applying for Disability
In addition to all the fine options above, if you need help with a disability application, you can also check out:
💠 SOAR for People who are Homeless or At Risk for Homelessness – For people with a mental illness diagnosis (or mental plus physical). Totally free and very high success rate. Most SOAR programs work with new applications and reconsiderations – not hearing appeals.
💠 Legal Aid – If you are low income, check with the legal aide program in your area. They usually won’t help with hearings, but some will provide free help with: New applications, reconsiderations, overpayment issues, or continuing disability review problems.
💠 Disability Advocacy in New York – Free assistance with disability applications and appeals for low income people who live in New York.
💠 Social Worker Disability Assessment Form – Most Social Workers are not trained in techniques to improve disability applications. Here’s a special form you can bring and work with them on.
Finding Social Workers Through Community Mental Health Centers
There are many options available for seeking a Case Worker, but in my experience, the best place to actually get your needs met are Community based mental health centers. Not all mental health centers have case workers. Call everywhere in your area until you find an agency that does.
In some areas, you don’t have to have a mental illness to utilize these services. You can get these services if you are just experiencing the stress of an illness or disability. People have so much stigma that they often “don’t think they need that” or are too ashamed to reach out in that manner.
I worked for a community-based mental health agency (mostly made of therapists), and as a case manager, I applied with clients for disability, food benefits, SSI, etc. That was my former position before I became disabled.
My clients were all ages and ranged from just feeling stressed to having severe and persistent mental illnesses. Some worked with the psychiatrist or therapists in our organization, and some worked just with me.
For community mental health services, usually, after the initial intake and assessment, the case worker will come to your house. Some places will even do an assessment at home. It just depends on the organization how involved the case manager is able to be with each client.
- Congressperson’s office – if you need help because a government agency has broken a rule or made a mistake with your case
- Housing resources – if you are having a problem with a landlord, HUD, Section 8 or another housing agency
- Legal programs – Assistance with a variety of legal issues
- Social Security problems – Where to ask questions and find help
Working with Your Social Worker
Many Social Workers are extremely nice, helpful and smart. However, it is helpful to keep in mind that some Social Workers have huge case loads and little time for each person. If possible, it is great if you can also reach out to friends and family for support as well. Or you may be able to get help from more than one caseworker at more than one agency.
It may also be helpful to be aware that many Case Workers and Social Workers have expertise in one particular topic. For example, a home care Social Worker will know about Home Care services. A Food Stamps case worker will know the food stamps regulations. A housing Case Worker will know how to navigate housing.
If your Case Worker doesn’t know how to help you in a particular area, or thinks nothing is available, don’t give up hope. Keep looking.
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