Hunt For Script Drug Plan No Game

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It’s that time of year again. It’s “open season” for the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Hunting down the best plan for you is no game. Newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries, and current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare Part D plan, should mark their calendars — the “open season” will run to Dec. 7.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the costs of medications. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for “Extra Help” to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is worth about $4,000 a year.

To figure out whether you are eligible for the Extra Help, Social Security needs to know your income and the value of any savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home you live in). To qualify, you must be receiving Medicare and have:

• Income not over $16,335 for an individual or $22,065 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Some examples where your income may be higher include if you or your spouse: support other family members who live with you; have earnings from work; or live in Alaska or Hawaii; and

• Resources not over $12,640 for an individual or $25,260 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count your house or car as resources.

You can complete an easy-to-use online application for Extra Help at www.socialsecurity.gov. Go to the Medicare tab on the top of the page. Then go to “Apply For Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Plan Costs.” To apply for the Extra Help by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020).

And if you would like more information about the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program itself, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

So this open season (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7), after you track down the perfect prescription drug plan for you, hunt for something that could put about $4,000 in your pocket — bag the best Medicare prescription drug plan for you and see if you qualify for the Extra Help through Social Security.

Seasons not the only things that change

Many people enjoy watching the changing seasons, and in many parts of the country we find ourselves at that time of the year when the shifting from one season to another seems most enjoyable.

But seasons are not the only things that change. When it comes to some changes, we at Social Security need to know about them.

If you receive Social Security benefits, there are certain things that we need to know about you in order to continue paying your benefits. Here is a reminder of some of the most important reporting responsibilities for people who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

• Your address — Even if you receive your payments by direct deposit or debit card (as most people do), we still need a good mailing address to get in touch when needed. Advise SS of a change of address, as well as telephone number, at our Web site, www.socialsecurity.gov.

• Direct deposit information — If payments go to your financial institution for direct deposit, you need to notify us of any changes. If you change your account information, your payment could go to the wrong place. You can change your deposit information at our Web site, www.socialsecurity.gov.

• Your work, if disabled — If you receive disability benefits, we need to know about any work you do. If you start work, stop work, or have any change in your work, hours, or pay, we need to know.

• Your living arrangements, if you receive SSI. People who receive SSI are paid, in part, based on financial need. Payments may change based on your living arrangements. Because of that, we need to know how many people are in your household and how the expenses are shared.

Some changes can be reported online at www.socialsecurity.gov. You can report changes to us by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contacting your local office.

Seasons change; there’s little to report there. But when it comes to changes in the lives of people who receive benefits from Social Security, please remember to keep us informed.

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