Medications play an important role in senior health. They are beneficial in controlling many of the diseases and conditions that older adults experience, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart disease and more. But many seniors fail to take their medications correctly, or at all. The reason may be that the high cost of prescription drugs means they must choose between their medications and food or other necessities.
Seniors on Medicare who have a limited income should know that they may be able to save money on their medications. They may be unaware that they could qualify for the Social Security Extra Help program, which could save them up to $4000 each year on the cost of drugs.
Here is information from Social Security about the Extra Help benefit:
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 related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. This might include:
- Monthly premiums
- Annual deductibles
- Prescription co-payments
To qualify for Extra Help, you must meet three requirements:
- You must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia
- Your resources must be limited to $13,300 for an individual or $26,580 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stock and bonds. Social Security does not count your home, car and any life insurance policy as resources.
- Your annual income must be limited to $17,235 for an individual or $23,265 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
- 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 . The online application is secure and easy to use.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to apply over the phone or to request an application
- Apply to 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 choose 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.
For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Source: U.S. Social Security Administration, edited by AgeWise, 2013