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Need Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs?

Article submitted by staff at www.SeniorsResourceGuide.com. Content is from the SSA publication resource. Visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income also may be able to get Extra Help to pay for the costs—monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments—related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. Many people qualify for these big savings and don’t even know it.

To qualify for Extra Help:

  • You must reside in one of the 50 States or the District of Columbia;
  • Your resources must be limited to $13,070 for an individual or $26,120 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count your home, car, and any life insurance policy as resources; and
  • Your annual income must be limited to $16,755 for an individual or $22,695 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help. Some examples where your income may be higher are if you or your spouse:
    – Support other family members who live with you;
    – Have earnings from work; or
    – Live in Alaska or Hawaii.

How to Apply

It is easy to apply for Extra Help. Just complete Social Security's Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Here's how:

  • You can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp;
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to apply over the phone or to request an application; or
  • Apply at your local Social Security office.

After you apply, Social Security will review your application and send you a letter to let you know if you qualify for Extra Help. Once you qualify, you can choose a Medicare prescription drug plan. If you do not select a plan, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will do it for you. The sooner you join a plan the sooner you begin receiving benefits.

Our online application is secure and offers several advantages. It takes you through the process step by step, with a series of self-help screens. The screens will tell you what information you need to complete the application and will guide you in answering the questions fully. You can apply from any computer at your own pace. You can start and stop at any time during the process, so you can leave the application and go back later to update or complete any of the required information. We are careful to protect your personal information.

When you file your application for Extra Help, you also can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs—State programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. Social Security will send information to your State unless you tell us not to on the Extra Help application. Your State will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program.

These Medicare Savings Programs help people with limited resources and income pay for their Medicare expenses. The Medicare Savings Programs help pay for your Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also may pay for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments.

More Information

For more information about getting Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Social Security representatives are available to help you complete your application. The sooner you apply the sooner you will begin receiving benefits.

If you need information about Medicare Savings Programs, Medicare prescription drug plans, how to enroll in a plan, or to request a copy of the Medicare & You handbook, please visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY, 1-877-486-2048). Your State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP) also can help answer Medicare questions. You can find your local SHIP contact information in the back of your Medicare handbook, online at www.medicare.gov under “Help & Support,” or you can request it when you call.

We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.

Posted December 2012 on www.SeniorsResourceGuide.com