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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: New York City Department for the Aging

Learn how this agency partnered with a technology startup to help older adults process and manage bill payments, create a budget and catch discrepancies or potential fraud through the use of real-time data.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the New York City Department for the Aging's Bill Paying Partnership program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Economic Security category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
 
A partnership between SilverBills, a New York-based fintech startup, and the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) has resulted in safe, paperless bill management services for New York City residents age 60 and older and receive $60,000 or less in annual income.
 
The partnership broadens the reach of DFTA's in-home volunteer service option, Bill Payer Program (BPP), which had been limited in part by availability of volunteers to serve some neighborhoods, as well as some clients' preference to not have a volunteer enter their home. Difficulties also arose when clients were hospitalized, and volunteers could not access the incoming bills. Adding the SilverBills technology component to the program allowed DFTA to provide services virtually—and to clients who were previously ineligible for the program.
 
“The SilverBills partnership bridges the digital gap and allows those without the means and/or ability to plug into current banking practices. Many of our clients have limited access and knowledge about current banking practices. SilverBills links them to real-time practices allowing them to fully benefit from the best in modern practices,” said David M.L. Knapp, Director of the Bill Payer Program at DFTA.
 
SilverBills catches errors in household bill management in real time, allowing clients to avoid overdrafts and reducing fraud. Clients also avoid stress caused by unopened mail, concerns about their finances or the need to learn new technology. DFTA has a more equitable solution for clients in all neighborhoods and is able to serve and reach more clients than before.
 
“The program has allowed individuals to receive consistent, high-quality services provided by financial professionals especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that bills are paid on time without disruption and provide a vital service for home bound clients. The partnership has allowed DFTA to seamlessly provide a high level of surety that clients' bills are paid no matter what is going on at home,” Knapp added.  
 
Since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, DFTA pivoted services to homebound clients to support them in paying bills without face-to-face contact. To learn more about SilverBills and how you can replicate a similar program at your agency, contact David M.L. Knapp at dknapp@aging.nyc.gov.
 
For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.

Interested in receiving an AIA Award for your agency's program? The 2021 AIA Awards nominations process is now open. Read our nominations process guide and consider submitting some of your programs before the March 26 deadline.

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