2010-05-21 / Columnists

Social Security And You

By John D’Agostino Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Office

Who says you can’t teach an old dad new twists? All across the nation this Father’s Day weekend, people are telling their fathers, grandfathers, and other special men in their lives about a new “twist” in the law that may help them qualify for extra help paying for costs associated with their prescription drugs.

When you’re spending time with Dad this weekend, ask him if he can use some help paying for his prescription drugs. If so, tell him about the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and the extra help available through Social Security.

If Dad is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, he might be eligible for extra help to pay for his monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per year.

If you’re met with a resistant, “No, I’ve looked into it before and I don’t qualify,” then let him know the law changed in January 2010. As volunteer spokesman Chubby Checker will tell you, a new “twist” in the law makes it easier than ever to qualify for the extra help.

Thanks to this new “twist” in the law, we no longer count any life insurance policy he has as a resource, and we no longer count as income any financial assistance he receives regularly from someone else to pay his household expenses like food, mortgage or rent, utilities or property taxes.

Don’t take our word for it, see Chubby Checker’s rocking message at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhe lp.

To qualify, he must be receiving Medicare and:

Have income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21, 855 for a married couple living together. Even if his annual income is higher, he still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deducti-bles, and prescription co-payments. Some examples in which income may be higher include if he or his wife:

Support other family members who live with them;

Have earnings from work; or

Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and

Have 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 his house or car as resources.

You can help Dad fill out an easy-touse online application at www.social security.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.

You and your dad can 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).

Maybe it’s been a few years since Dad did the Twist. But saving an extra $3,900 a year on prescription drugs may help put a new spring in his step.

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