Medicare Extra Help Qualifications
By Mark Johnson. R. CPhT.
Beginning January 1, 2010 changes to the Medicare law made it easier for some people to qualify for Medicare Extra Help within the costs of their Medicare prescription drug plan. Under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) Medicare no longer counts or classifies any life insurance policies as resources. Medicare also no longer considers as income the help received regularly from someone else to pay household expenses such as food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes.
You might be asking yourself, “Will this change the basic resource and income for Extra Help?” The answer is no, but it will change what is counted in these limits. To qualify for “Extra Help” during 2010, your resources still are limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Annual income is still limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21,855 for a married couple living together. Income can be a little higher if you support other family members who live with you, or you have earnings from work.
If you think you might be close to the limits please do not hesitate to apply for the “Extra Help”. If you know someone who might be eligible for “Extra Help”, encourage them to either apply or go to the local Area Agency on Aging for assistance. If you need to apply for “Extra Help” you can call 1-800-772-1213 and apply over the phone, request a paper application, or apply online at the Social Security web site www.ssa.gov. You can also apply at your local Social Security office.
And be sure to mark your calendars now for the next open enrollment period which will be November 15—December 31 2010.
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