2006-06-23 / Columnists

Social Security And You

Some Medicare Beneficiaries Can Still Enroll In Prescription Drug Program Without Penalty
By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Center

James Glasser
James Glasser If you qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs, you can still sign up for a Medicare Prescription Drug plan and pay no penalty for 2006. The special enrollment period for beneficiaries who are also eligible for extra help runs through December 31 of this year. Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for the extra help if they have limited income and resources. The extra help can pay for part of the monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments under the new prescription drug program, and it could be worth an average of $3,700 per year.

You may qualify for the extra help if your annual income is below $14,700 for an individual ($19,800 for a married couple living together), and you have resources totaling no more than $10,000 ($20,000 for a married couple living together). Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but do not include your house and car. And resources can be slightly higher (an additional $1,500 per person) if you will use some of your money for burial expenses.

If you think that you might qualify for the extra help, you can complete an online application at www.social security.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and a representative will assist you in filing an application over the phone. For more information about the prescription drug program itself, you can go to www.medicare.gov .

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