Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Possible Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs

I’ve been calling around today to see if we can get help with the donut hole. After almost an hour on hold and calls, I learned that the Social Security Administration has a program to help low-income seniors when their prescription drug costs have exceeded the limit. If they qualify, the government will pay the Medicare Part D premium and 95% of the cost of the medications. You can apply online or call for an application (which they say will take three weeks to reach you) at 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday.

In order to qualify for this program, the applicant’s combined savings, investments, and real estate (other than their home, vehicles, burial plots, or personal possessions) must be worth less than:

  • $11,500 if you are single, a widow(er) or your spouse does not live with you; or

  • $23,000 if you are married and living together

  • To complete the application, you will need access to the following documents for the applicant and his or her spouse (if married and living together).

  • bank account statements, including checking, savings, and certificates of deposit;

  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), stocks, bonds, savings bonds, mutual funds, other investment statements;

  • tax returns;

  • payroll slips;

  • most recent Social Security benefits award letters or statements for Railroad Retirement income, Veterans Benefits, pensions and annuities; and

  • the cash value and face value of any life insurance policies you have.

  • Of course, the application is complicated enough that many seniors will need help completing it, and anyone who has been responsible in providing savings, life insurance, IRAs, etc. for themselves over the years won’t qualify. Unfortunately, it appears that my dad doesn’t qualify by just a few dollars. And yet, his prescription drug costs are in the hundreds every month. Hundreds that used to be covered by his Medicare wrap HMO. I wonder who is winning with this program? Not us. I’m feeling smooshed…

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