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Medicare | Medicare Part D Extra Help Loosens R . . .
Medicare Part D Extra Help Loosens Requirements
As of January 1, as many as a million lower-income seniors who were previously denied may now be eligible for "Extra Help." Because the income and asset qualifiers for the Medicare Extra Help program have been broadened, Social Security is encouraging everyone who may not have qualified before to re-apply.
The "Extra Help" program helps to pay for the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to the Medicare Prescription Drug program.
Previous to 2010, Social Security counted any and all life insurance policies as "resources" when they were determining a senior's eligibility. This rule has now changed, and life insurance policies will no longer be counted as available resources that might disqualify an applicant.
Also, previous to 2010, financial help that an applicant received from someone else to help pay household expenses such as food, rent, mortgage, utilities, or property taxes was counted as income. This rule has been changed, and this kind of financial help will no longer be counted as "income."
This means that as many as one million people who previously did not qualify can now receive Extra Help to pay for prescription drugs through a Part D plan.
Who Now Qualifies for Part D Extra Help?
Residence: You must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
Resources: Your resources (cash, savings accounts, IRAs, stocks, bonds, etc.) must be limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Your house, your car, and now your insurance policies do not count.
Income: 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 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
Apply Automatically For Other State Assistance Programs
Beginning January 1, 2010, unless you opt out when you file your application for Extra Help, Social Security will also send your information to your state. If you qualify, your state will contact you to help you apply for their Medicare Savings Program that helps people with limited income and resources pay for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people with very low incomes 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.
How to Apply For Extra Help
Anyone who already receives Extra Help will not need to reapply in 2010. Social Security will automatically check whether benefits should be increased because a life insurance policy or household income are now excluded from being counted.
Anyone who needs to apply, or re-apply because they were previously denied, can apply online at Social Security.gov, by calling Social Security at 1 (800) 772-1213 or via TTY at 1 (800) 325-0778, or by visiting the closest Social Security office.
Social Security will send a written confirmation that your senior either does or does not qualify for Extra Help. Once qualified, your elder can then 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. On their website Medicare offers extensive information about the various Medicare Part D drug plans available in your senior's area.