published Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Social Security: This Father's Day, give Dad some help

Martin Coffey

You can probably think of a number of times when you asked your dad for a little extra help. Now, with Father's Day right around the corner, is the perfect time to offer a little extra help for Dad. People across the nation are helping their fathers save nearly $4,000 a year on the cost of Medicare prescription drugs. You can help your dad, too -- and it won't cost you a dime.

The high cost of prescription medication can be a burden on fathers (or anyone) who have limited income and resources. But there is Extra Help available through Social Security that could pay part of his monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. That Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 a year.

To figure out whether your father is eligible, Social Security needs to know his income and the value of his savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home he lives in). To qualify for the Extra Help, he must be enrolled in Medicare and have:

• Income limited to $16,755 for an individual or $22,695 for a married couple living together. Even if his annual income is higher, he 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 he or his spouse support other family members who live with them or have earnings from work.

• Resources limited to $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 his house and a car (if he has one) as resources.

• Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete for your dad. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp. 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). 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).

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Martin Coffey by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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