Medicare Part D: What Is Extra Help?

Fran
Lucy Lazarony
October 14, 2020

Medicare recipients can qualify for extra help with the cost of a Medicare prescription drug plan, Medicare Part D. This extra help is estimated to be about $5,000 a year. To qualify for extra help a person must be receiving Medicare and have limited resources and income and be residing in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. If you qualify, you may be able to get extra help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and copayments related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. To apply for extra help, you should have Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B and have combined savings, investments and real estate not worth more than $29,160 if you are married and living with your spouse or $14,610 if you are not currently married or not living with your spouse. If you don’t qualify for extra help, you can still save on Part D by comparing Medicare supplement rates. Many people may qualify for extra help and not know it. Let’s take a closer look at extra help for Medicare Part D.

What’s Not Counted for Extra Help

When counting up your savings, investments and real estate for extra help, do not count your home, your vehicle, personal possessions, life insurance, burial plots, burial contracts or back payments from Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Who May Automatically Qualify?

If you have Medicare and SSI or Medicare and Medicaid you automatically qualify for extra help and there’s no need to fill out an application.

Gathering Together Your Resources

The resources counted for extra help include bank accounts, such as checking, savings and certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, including U.S. Savings Bonds, mutual funds, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and cash located at your home or anywhere else.

What’s Not Counted in Your Resources

These resources are not counted for extra help. They include resources you couldn’t easily convert to cash such as jewelry or home furnishings or property you need for self-support such as rental property or land you use to grow produce for home consumption.

In addition, certain other money you are holding is not counted for nine months such as retroactive Social Security payments or SSI payments, housing assistance, tax advances and refunds related to earned income tax credits and child tax credits, compensation you receive as a crime victim and relocation assistance from a state or local government.

What’s Not Counted in Your Income

There are several items not counted as income when you apply for extra help. They are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps, housing assistance, home energy assistance, disaster assistance, assistance from others to pay household expenses and scholarships and education grants.

How to Apply

To apply for extra help, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp for an application. You also can call 1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone or request an application.

Once you apply, Social Security will review your application and send you a letter letting you know if you qualify.

A Look at Medicare

Medicare is the health insurance for people aged 65 and older. Medicare helps with the cost of health care but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of long-term care. And that is one reason why the extra help with Medicare Part D is so valuable.

Medicare Part A helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or limited time at a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay. Medicare Part A also pays some home health care and some hospice care. Medicare Part B helps pay for services from doctors and other healthcare providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment and some preventative services.

Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. Most people age 65 or older are eligible for free Medicare Part A if they have worked long enough in the U.S. and paid Medicare taxes. And you can enroll in Medicare Part B by paying a monthly premium.

You can apply for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B by using an online application or speaking with an agent at (855) 214-2291.

With Medicare your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65 and ends three months after that birthday.

As mentioned earlier, you must have Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B to apply for extra help for Medicare Part D.

Once you apply and qualify, you’ll be asked to choose a Medicare Part D drug plan. Once you do, you will be able to receive your $5,000 in extra help for prescription drugs.

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