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Social Security Column: Apply Now For Medicare Part D 'Extra Help

Social Security Column
Apply Now For Medicare Part D 'Extra Help'
by Jeanette Watkins
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Baltimore MD

Have you, or someone you know, reached age 65 this past year? If so, you may be eligible for Medicare and for the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage-and now is the time to do it. Open season for the plan began November 15 and ends on December 31.
There is also "extra help" available to some Medicare beneficiaries.
The extra help is intended for people who have limited income and resources. If you qualify, you will get help paying for your Medicare prescription drug plan's monthly premium, as well as for deductibles and co-pays. The amount of extra help you would get is based on your income and resources, but could be worth as much as $3,600 per year.
Basically, to qualify for the extra help, you must have:
* Income limited to $15,315 for an individual, or $20,535 for a married couple living together; and
* Resources limited to $11,710 ($11,990 in 2008) for an individual, or $23,410 ($23,970 in 2008) for a married couple living together. (Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but would not include your house or car.)
Note that in some situations, these limits may be higher.
Eligible Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the Part D prescription drug plan from November 15, 2007 to December 31, 2007. In most cases, if you don't apply by December 31, 2007, and you don't currently have a drug plan that, on average, covers at least as much as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage, you will have to wait until November 15, 2008 to apply.
At that time, your premium cost will go up at least one percent per month for every month that you wait.
You can apply for the extra help anytime - not just during open season - by visiting our website at or calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Don't delay!

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