1st Quarter: March 15-March 26
2nd Quarter: June 7-June 26
3rd Quarter: August 30-September 10
4th Quarter: November 29-December 10

The December Edition of the Social Security Star is now available! Click here to download it:  pdf Social Security Star - December 2020

In 2019, New York State became the first state in the nation to test robotic pets, cats and dogs, with isolated community-based older adults. “New York piloted 60 Joy for All Companion Pets (30 cats and 30 pups) with socially isolated older adults living at home in 12 counties across the state. Pilot participants were identified using a six-item loneliness scale. Robotic cats and pups are usually given to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as a form of calming pet therapy, but data has shown that using pets to decrease social isolation is highly successful—70% of pilot participants reported a decrease or significant decrease in isolation after one year.”

“Social isolation was already a serious public health problem for older individuals who have limited social connections, and the COVID-19 virus has made this problem exponentially worse,” said Association on Aging in New York Executive Director Becky Preve. “Social isolation also puts older adults at greater risk for a number of physiological issues such as decline in mobility, heart disease including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure, cognitive decline, infectious illness, and chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes.” Studies have shown that social isolation disproportionately affects older adults. There are many individuals living alone whose only social contact occurs outside of their home. These interactions may take place at senior centers, Churches and other community programs, most of which have closed or have limitations on the number of people who may attend due to COVID-19. There are also seniors whose only in person contact may consist of the brief interaction with the meals on wheels volunteer.

“While social distancing and Matilda’s Law were put in place to slow the physical effects of COVID-19, they also have the unintended effect of heightening the risk of social isolation and loneliness even more, ultimately leaving older adults and caregivers looking for solutions to provide comfort, companionship, and joy in this time of physical absence.”

The Office for the Aging currently has a limited number of these robotic pets available. The pets look and feel real and respond to touch and voice. However, one is able to mute the sounds, i.e. purring, barking, if they prefer. They offer the convenience of not needing to be fed, walked or bathed. Please call the office at 518-828-4258 for more information or if you are interested in obtaining a pet.


There is a program available to assist you with your Medicare Part B premium called the Medicare Savings Program, also known as the Medicare Buy-In Program.  Based on your current income, the Medicare Buy-In Program could help pay your Medicare premiums as well as your deductibles.  An individual cannot make more than $1,456.00 a month and a couple no more than $1,960.00 a month.  It does not look at assets in NYS.  If you enroll in the Medicare Savings Program, you will automatically get Extra Help, the federal program that helps pay most of your Medicare Part D drug costs. For more information or to apply for a Medicare Savings Program, please call the Columbia County Office for the Aging at 518-828-4258.

Extra Help is a program to help you with your prescription drug costs and sometimes the premium, depending on your income.  Your income must be below $1,615.00 a month for an individual or $2,175.00 a month for couples.  Resources cannot be more than $14,610 for an individual or $29,160 for couples.  Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds.  They do not count your home, car, or any life insurance policy as resources.

You can apply for Extra Help at: www.SocialSecurity.gov/extra help or call Social Security at      1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone.

For more information on Medicare Basics, please go to www.columbiacountyny.com , click on Departments and scroll down to Office for the Aging (OFA). On the OFA welcome page, please click on the Medicare 101: Medicare Basics Virtual Presentation link. This virtual presentation will provide answers to most Medicare questions.

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in partnership with BellAge, Inc., and the Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY) has announced the launch of CV19 CheckUp in New York State, a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and individual behavior and provides recommendations and resources to reduce those risks.
Based on an individual’s behavior, the COVID-19 tool provides an analysis of the likelihood to contract, spread, be hospitalized and die from the virus.
It includes a mental health assessment to gauge depression and outcomes as a result of loneliness. The tool links people to local services should they have a need, i.e.) food, testing, paying bills, etc.
As the holidays approach and more indoor activities occur, it is important that older individuals with chronic conditions take this test to protect themselves. It is equally important that young individuals, who are often asymptomatic, take this test to help prevent them from becoming super spreaders. Information is power and understanding how we live and how our day to day routines impact the chances of getting and spreading the virus is critical.
The tool is FREE, anonymous and analyzes behavior, using scientific data that is being updated weekly. It only takes five minutes to complete and can be taken as many times as one wishes.
To take the five minute free online test, please go to: newyork.cv19checkup.org

Columbia County Department of public Works is now accepting applications for the following position:


This is a laborer class position in the Highway Department which will run from  November 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021 (Grade 11), Salary $16.12/HR. To view more information, click here:  pdf Seasonal Laborers 3 Highway - 10/16/20

The latest edition of the Social Security newsletter is now available! Within it, you will find Social Security’s latest information, current news items, and FAQs.

pdf Social Security Star - October 2020