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Advice for seniors on Social Security

By Ronald E. Buffaloe
For The Salisbury Post
Grandparents are known for their wisdom and advice. It’s likely that you can go to your grandparents with a question and they’ll have an answer for you, given the experience that comes with age. Now is your chance to give your grandparents a bit of advice.Your grandparents need to know about the Medicare prescription drug plan and about the extra help they may be able to get through Social Security. You’ll be doing more than just giving them some advice. The high cost of prescription drugs can be a burden on people with limited income and resources. Extra help ó available through Social Security ó can pay part of their monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. The extra help could be worth up to $3,600 per year.To figure out whether they’re eligible, Social Security needs to know their income and the value of their savings, investments and real estate (other than the home they live in). To qualify for the extra help, your grandparents must be receiving Medicare and have:Income limited to $15,600 for an individual or $21,000 for a married couple living together. Even if their annual income is higher, your grandparents 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 they or their spouse:
– Support other family members who live with them;
– Have earnings from work; or
– Live in Alaska or Hawaii
and
– Resources limited to $11,990 for an individual or $23,970 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count their house and car as resources.
Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that anyone ó family members, friends and caregivers ó can complete. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov. To apply by phone or get an application, 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. Or 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 1-877-486-2048).
Ronald E. Buffaloe is Social Security district manager.

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