Social Security Rep Answers Questions About Help Paying for Medicare Drugs
Also offers information on other questions about Social Security and Medicare - people who never worked, when do payments
May 3, 2012 – There
may be as much as $4,000 in financial help available to people on Medicare who need help paying for their prescription drugs, according to
Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He also answers questions about Social Security for those who
have never worked and when a senior’s benefit begins payments.
Question: I recently took my mom to fill her prescriptions. I noticed a flyer at the
pharmacy that talked about Extra Help for people who have Medicare and could use a hand in paying their for their prescription costs. What can
you tell me about this Extra Help?
If your mother is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, she may be eligible for Extra Help —
available through Social Security — to pay part of her monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is
estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.
To figure out whether your mother is eligible, Social Security needs to know her income and the value of her savings,
investments and real estate (other than the home she lives in).
To qualify for the extra help, she must be receiving Medicare and have income limited to $16,755 for an individual or
$22,695 for a married couple living together. Even if her annual income is higher, she still may be able to get some help with monthly
premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.
Some examples where income may be higher include if she, and her husband if married, support other family members who
live with them. Plus, if they have earnings from work.
She would also be limited to resources below $13,070 for an individual or $26,120 for a married couple living together.
Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count her house or car as resources.
To apply 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 Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs” (SSA-1020).
You can also go to the nearest Social Security office. To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and
special enrollment periods, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY
Question: I have never worked, but my spouse has. What will my Social Security benefit be?
You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse's benefit amount if you start your benefits when you reach full
If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit
will be reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66,
you can get 35 percent of your spouse's unreduced benefit at age 62.
The amount of your benefit increases at later ages up to the maximum of 50 percent if you retire at full retirement age.
However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits, you get full benefits,
regardless of your age. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourspouse.htm.
Question: What month do retirement benefits begin?
If you meet all requirements for entitlement, you can receive reduced benefits beginning with the first full month you
reach age 62. Thus, benefits are not paid for the month you reach age 62 unless your birthday is on the first or second day of the month.
We pay benefits in the month following the month they are due. For example, if you turn 62 on July 15, your first month
of entitlement is August, and you would receive your first check in September.
However, if your birthday is May 1st, then your first month of entitlement is May and you would receive your first check
Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him
at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at
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