How Much is Extra Help Worth?
The Social Security Administration estimates that Extra Help can save participating seniors as much as $3,900 per year.
Qualifying for Extra Help
Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited income and resources are also eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs-monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments-related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. To qualify for Extra Help:
- You must already be signed up for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
- As of Jan. 1, 2010, your resources must be limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. Houses and cars do not count as resources.
- As of Jan. 1, 2010, your annual income must be limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21,855 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help.
Under a law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2010, more Medicare beneficiaries could qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs because some things no longer count as income and resources.
- The value of life insurance policies will no longer count as a resource.
- Money received from relatives or others to help pay for household expenses -- food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes - will no longer count as income.
Persons already participating in Extra Help, will not need to reapply in 2010. Social Security will see if you are entitled to any additional Extra Help because they no longer count life insurance or help with household expenses as resources or income.
Persons applying for Extra Help after Jan. 1, 2010 can also start the application process for Medicare Savings Programs -- state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs.
How to Apply for Extra Help
You can complete Social Security's Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020) by:
- Applying online;
- Calling 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.
Social Security's online application for Extra Help 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.
For more information about getting Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs, visit www.socialsecurity.gov 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.