More Seniors Eligible for Medicare Prescription Help

Chubby Checker promotes new ‘twist’ in the prescription drug program

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More seniors are now eligible for government help paying their Medicare Part D prescription costs. Changes in Medicare law that went into effect on January 1, 2010 relaxed some of the qualification requirements to receive financial assistance to pay for out-of-pocket drug expenses. The Social Security Administration and Grammy award-winner Chubby Checker launched a campaign today to promote this new “twist" in the Medicare drug program.

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 Under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, the cash value of life insurance policies and money you receive regularly from someone else to pay your household expenses will no longer count towards the income and asset limits to qualify for the Extra Help program. About nine million low income and disabled seniors already receive an average of $3,900 per year to help pay their Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue says hundreds of thousands more Americans are now eligible for assistance paying for their Part D premiums, deductibles, and prescription co-payments.

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To qualify for the program your annual income must be $16,245 or less for an individual or a maximum of $21,855 for a couple. The income limits may increase if you are still working or support other family members who live with you. You must also have less than $12,510 worth of assets ($25,010 for couples) such as bank account balances, stocks, or bonds, excluding your home and car.

Retirees who meet the requirements may apply online, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or in person at a local Social Security office. Also, check out Checker, 68, twisting his way into his retirement years below.