Know your benefits

Help when you need it

Health and Cancer Helpline, Retiree Social Services, Member Assistance Program


Are you or a close family member struggling to cope with a health or mental-health problem? The UFT has created social services to help that are free, strictly confidential and only a phone call away.

Health and Cancer HelpLine

The UFT Welfare Fund’s Health and Cancer HelpLine provides confidential assistance to both in-service and retired members who are dealing with physical and emotional problems, whether it be a cancer diagnosis, multiple sclerosis, marital difficulties, the stresses of elder care, alcoholism or drug addiction. A full-time licensed social worker and peer counselors provide information and support, help members plan job leaves and guide callers to the resources they need, including union benefits, support groups, doctors or other health care professionals, and health and wellness websites.

Call the Welfare Fund at 1-212-539-0500 and ask to speak to a HelpLine counselor. The HelpLine is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the school year and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. At other times, callers can leave a message, and their call will be returned within several hours.

The HelpLine’s team of counselors works closely with employee benefits counselors in the UFT Welfare Fund as well as other UFT service units, including Retiree Social Services, the Pension Department, the Victim Support Program, the Peer Intervention Program and the Capably Disabled Committee, which handles requests for job accommodations.

The HelpLine staff also works collaboratively with the UFT Paraprofessional Social Service Program, a free and confidential information and referral service for UFT paraprofessionals seeking social service assistance and professional counseling concerning nonworkplace issues. Paraprofessionals can contact the program’s coordinator, who is a licensed social worker, at 1-212-598-9291.

While HelpLine counselors work primarily by phone, members can come to UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway to see a counselor in person if they prefer. It’s best to call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Member Assistance Program

At one time or another, we all experience challenges in our personal or professional lives. These can range from marital or parenting difficulties to on-the-job stress, bereavement, eating disorders and alcohol- or substance-abuse issues.

In order to help members through these and other challenges, the UFT has created the Member Assistance Program under the supervision of Director Lila Ezra, who also serves as coordinator of counseling for the UFT’s Victim Support Program [which was the topic of the Know Your Benefits column in the March 5 issue of the New York Teacher].

MAP provides trained, professional counselors who can guide in-service members through short-term counseling. All MAP services are confidential, professional, supportive and free.

The program utilizes a broad range of outside practitioners and agencies that accept UFT members’ health insurance, in all five boroughs and some suburban locations.

In addition to individual counseling, MAP services include a small-group session for bereavement and grief counseling.

You can contact MAP by calling 1-212-701-9620 or by emailing Your inquiry will be responded to within one business day. Appointments are available Monday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer and vacation hours are available on a limited basis.

Please note that MAP cannot accommodate walk-in appointments.

Anyone experiencing an emergency at night or on the weekend who cannot wait for business hours should call 911 or 1-800-LIFENET (a confidential, free mental health information and crisis hotline available to anyone at any time).

Retiree Social Services

The UFT’s interest in the well-being of its members carries through to their retirement years. Three full-time, licensed geriatric social workers and case managers in the Retiree Social Services Program, located on the 17th floor at 52 Broadway, provide an array of free and confidential social services to retirees and their families wherever they live in the United States.

The services include:

  • Nationwide telephone reassurance program: A case manager will make weekly, friendly telephone calls to retired members who are coping with an illness, a recent loss or family problems; who reside alone; or for any reason. These calls will continue until the retiree tells the program that he or she no longer needs such support.
  • Nationwide hospital stay-in-touch program: Because a hospital experience can be overwhelming, a social worker, at the retiree’s request, will be in touch on a daily basis throughout a hospital stay. The social worker will assist the retiree with discharge planning, as well as facilitate home care after the retiree returns home. The social worker will also make contact with the hospital’s social worker. You should call prior to a scheduled hospitalization to request this service.
  • Referrals to retirement communities and nursing homes: The decision to move to a retirement community or choose a nursing home for yourself or a loved one is always difficult. Retirees will receive information about when to start looking for such a residence and how to choose one.
  • Short-term counseling and referrals: Social workers will provide confidential counseling to retirees who need help with a problem or decision. After meeting with the retiree a few times, the social worker will make suggestions or make a referral to a therapist who can provide further counseling.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, call Retiree Social Services at 1-212-598-6880, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (At other times, callers should leave their name and telephone number and the call will be promptly returned.)

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