Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, and Chubby Checker, Grammy Award winner and rock and roll legend, have launched a new campaign to inform millions of Americans about a new “twist” in the law that makes it easier to qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. The extra help program currently provides assistance to more than nine million older adults and people with disabilities — saving them an average of almost $4,000 a year on their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. To apply for extra help, there is an easy-to-use online application available at www.socialsecurity.gov.

To qualify for extra help, people must meet certain resource and income limits. The new Medicare law eases those requirements in two ways. First, it eliminates the cash value of life insurance from counting as a resource. Second, it eliminates the assistance people receive from others to pay for household expenses, such as food, rent, mortgage or utilities, from counting as income. There also is another important “twist” in the law. The application for extra help can now start the application process for Medicare Savings Programs — state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. These programs help pay Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also pay Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments.

To learn more about the extra help program and to view the new TV spot featuring Chubby Checker, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.