2009-05-08 / Columnists

Social Security And You

In Times Like These, Every Dollar Counts
Commentary By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Office

James Glasser James Glasser "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." This is the line Charles Dickens used to open his novel A Tale of Two Cities. It could just as easily be used to describe the situation for people who benefit from the marvels of modern medicine, yet find it difficult to afford the high costs of those prescription drugs.

This Mother's Day is the best of times to help your mom save an average of $3,900 a year on her prescription drug costs.

Here's how.

If your mother is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, she may be eligible for extra help — available through Social Security to pay part of her monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per year.

To figure out whether your mother is eligible, Social Security needs to know her income and the value of her savings, investments and real estate (other than the home she lives in). To qualify for the extra help, she must be receiving Medicare and also have:

Income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21,855 for a married couple living together. Even if her annual income is higher, she still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription copayments. Some examples where income may be higher include if she or her husband:

—Support other family members who live with them;

—Have earnings from work; or

—Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and

Resources 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. We do not count her house or car as resources.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete for your mom. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

To apply by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325- 0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to the nearest Social Security office.

To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and special enrollment periods, visit www.medicare. gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800- 633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

So this Mother's Day, help make this the best of times by saving your mom, or any loved one, an average of $3,900 a year on prescription drugs. In times

Pregnant? like these, every dollar counts.

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