‘Extra Help’ Sessions Set For Medicare Recipients

From Potter County Today

More Medicare beneficiaries than ever will be able to get assistance in paying for their prescription drugs thanks to Medicare’s Low-Income Subsidy Program (also known as “Extra Help”). Participants in the Extra Help program are eligible to pay no more than $2.50 for generic drugs and $6.30 for each brand name drug, saving as much as $3,900 per year. Changes in federal law make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to qualify for Extra Help by changing the way income and assets are counted.

When determining eligibility, the Social Security Administration no longer counts life insurance policies as a resource. In addition, help received from family and friends to pay for household expenses like food, mortgage, rent and utilities no longer count as income.

To qualify for “Extra Help,” Medicare beneficiaries’ incomes must be less than $16,245 a year ($21,855 for married couples) and have resources limited to $12,510 ($25,010 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, but do not include owner-occupied houses, cars, or life insurance policies.

“These changes  make it easier for more people to get help paying for their prescription drugs,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Medicare deputy administrator. “Even if you were turned down for ‘Extra Help’ before, you should reapply. If you qualify, you will receive help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, co-payments and deductibles.”

Potter County Area Agency on Aging is planning free Extra Help counseling sessions for Medicare recipients at several locations this month. Those who would like to discuss the program and/or complete an Extra Help application are welcome to meet with a representative at one of the following locations: Monday, Aug. 9, Ulysses Senior Center, 10 am until 2 pm; Monday, Aug. 16, at Austin United Methodist Church, 11 am until 1 pm; Wednesday, Aug. 18, Coudersport Senior Center, 10 am until 2 pm; Wednesday, Aug. 25, at Oswayo Valley Senior Center, 10 am until 2 pm; Thursday, Aug. 26, Galeton Senior Center, 10 am until 2 pm.

Applicants should bring their Medicare card, Social Security statement, and proof of any other income. Income includes social security, railroad retirement, veterans benefits, pensions, annuities, workers’ compensation, wages, alimony or rental income.

More information is available from Darcy Shutt at the Potter County Area Agency on Aging, 544-7315 or 1-800-800-2560.

Article courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners.

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