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Take a Minute for Medicare

This month we will start a new topic, Extra Help with Medicare Part D costs. There will be a series of three articles on Extra Help and how to find out if you are eligible.

What is Extra Help?
Many Medicare beneficiaries have difficulty in paying for their prescriptions. Making ends meet does not mean that you should go without your medications. When Medicare Part D was signed into law in 2003, a part of the law was passed to help those with limited income get “extra help” with the Medicare prescription drug costs. Medicare has allowed a number of different ways for eligible Medicare beneficiaries get help with their prescription costs.  

Many people qualify for extra help and don’t know it. There is no cost or obligation to apply for extra help, so anyone who thinks they may qualify can and should apply as soon as possible.

The first way to get help with your medication costs is to apply for Extra Help through Social Security. Extra Help through Social Security can be full or partial help depending upon your income. Social Security will determine the level of Extra Help you qualify to receive.

Below are the income limits for the program.

Extra Help Eligibility
Monthly income Limit                                 Asset Limit

Individual                $1,485                                 $12,140
Couple                    $2,002                                 $24,250

When you get extra help, Medicare helps pay for your Medicare Part D premium, deductible, and copayments. You will not have a coverage gap and, if you did not sign up for Part D when you were first eligible and have extra help, you will not have a late enrollment penalty. You will also be able to change your Part D plan at any time.

To find out if you are eligible, you can go to www.ssa.gov and apply online, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 toll free, or go in person to any local Social Security office and ask to apply for extra help. Come back next month for more ways to get Extra Help.

For general Medicare questions, call DRW at 1-800-928-8778. For Medicare Part D questions, call the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline at 1-800-926-4862. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit www.medicare.gov to find out if Medicare covers your test, service, or item.