Benefits Education Center (BEC) provides cutting edge Disability Benefits Training and Private Benefits Coaching to individuals living with disabilities and the community of professionals and paraprofessionals that serve them.
Our Mission is to improve access to public and private health coverage for all people with disabilities and to provide them and their service providers comprehensive and accurate information on disability and health coverage through group training programs, community presentations, client advocacy and individual client coaching.
The evolution of the Benefits Education Center is rooted in the three decades of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. The onslaught of the epidemic across the country resulted in a national outcry for needed medical and social services for individuals that were dying in epidemic numbers with little attention being paid to the crisis at that time.
Through advocacy and protest, grass root movements began to take form and community groups made up of family members, friends and community activist began to organize to address the needs of those diagnosed which was then referred to as Gay Related Immuno Deficiency (GRID). Soon AIDS Service Organizations (ASO) sprung up in major metropolitan cities to provide services to people living with AIDS (PWA).
Daniel’s Passion And BEC
In 1989, Samuel Broder, then head of the National Cancer Institute, declared in a speech at the international AIDS meeting in Montreal, Quebec, that AIDS was a chronic illness and that treatment should follow the model of cancer.This public statement marked a shift in the social definition of AIDS from an acute to a chronic illness, a shift with economic and cultural repercussions for the treatment and understanding of AIDS at the national, local, and individual levels. The chronic character of AIDS, with periods of crisis alternating with periods of stability, requires those with AIDS to continually reorganize their view of their life’s expected course (Journal List. West J Med. v.172(2); Feb 2000). Although the medical community made this designation in 1989, it was not until In the introduction of potent anti-retroviral drug therapy in 1996 and better prophylaxis against opportunistic infections, that death rates significantly declined and a new era of disability claims for people living with AIDS began.
Disheartened by the number of PWAs and the many other individuals living with disabilities being denied Social Security benefits and discontent with the system and the lack of adequate benefits information, training and qualified benefits counseling, Daniel Fortuño has made it his personal commitment to specialize in both public and private benefits. Benefits Education is Daniel’s passion and BEC has become a prominent forerunner in narrowing the gap to increase the success rate for benefits awards such as, the initial application approval for Social Security Disability Benefits. Today Mr. Fortuño is considered nationally as one of the foremost authorities on disability benefits and has provided benefits education in fifteen states including Alaska and Hawaii.