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Medicare’s Extra Help Program

Posted by Andrew Chan  November 29, 2010 03:00 PM

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Medicare’s Extra Help Program provides assistance to Medicare Part D recipients who have limited resources and income to pay for expenses related to their prescription drug plan. These expenses include monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.

As of January 1, 2010, a new law went into effect that allowed more Medicare beneficiaries to qualify for the Extra Help Program. Prior to this law, financial resources and income such as life insurance policies and income received from others to pay for household bills were included in determining the Medicare recipient’s eligibility. Under the new law, Medicare recipients do not need to include, as income, the assistance they receive if someone pays for their household expenses such as food, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and property taxes. In addition, life insurance policies will no longer be included as a financial resource for purposes of calculating the recipient’s eligibility.

To qualify for the Extra Help Program, the Social Security Administration outlines the following requirements for the Medicare recipient:

* He/She must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia;
* His/Her resources must be limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. The person’s house and car are not counted as resources; and
* His/Her annual income must be limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21,855 for a married couple living together. Even if their annual income is higher, they may still be able to get some help.

To apply for this program you will need to complete the Social Security’s Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). This form is available at your local social security office, online at, or via telephone at 1-800-772-1213.

For more information visit the Social Security Administration’s web site at:

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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