Office for the Aging


Give Mom "Extra Help" This Mothers; Day


New York State Office for the Aging is using this Mothers’ Day to remind New Yorkers that there is a program within Social Security whereby certain Medicare beneficiaries can receive additional financial support to help pay for prescription drugs. This weekend is an excellent time to let Mom know that the program is available and to see whether or not the "Extra Help" can benefit your Mom. Many New Yorkers qualify for the program, but simply don’t know about it.

Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income are also eligible for "Extra Help" - related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. The funds provided through the "Extra Help" program can be used to pay monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The extra help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. Flowers and cards are nice - but how about saving your Mom this money to either use for other bills or put towards savings. The high cost of prescription medication can be a burden on mothers (or anyone) who have limited income and resources.

Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging said, "Anything we can do to help make sure older New Yorkers are taking their prescribed medications is a good thing and the "Extra Help" program is something that all Medicare beneficiaries should check out. With the high cost associated with many drugs, any help to reduce the out of pocket costs for needed medications provides a big help and insures that people don't cut back on their prescriptions to save money or because they don’t have the money to pay for the drugs."

State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said, "Prescription medications often play a key role in keeping people healthy, but some seniors struggle to pay for their medications. We strongly encourage qualified Medicare enrollees to take advantage of the "Extra Help" program to defray some of these costs. When it comes to maintaining good health, getting "Extra Help" is a great option."

To figure out whether someone is eligible for the program, Social Security needs to know a person’s income and the value of their savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home they live in). To qualify for the "Extra Help" individuals must be enrolled in Medicare and have:

  • Income limited to $16,335 for an individual or $22,065 for a married couple living together. Even if annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments; and
  • Resources limited to $12,640 for an individual or $25,260 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. Not counted is your house or automobile.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application(External Link) for the program. Just select the link on the left of the page that says, "Get extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs." 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(External Link), or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

So this Mother's Day, give your mom a gift she can really use year-round - a savings of up to $4,000 a year on her prescription drugs. Flowers whither and candy is consumed, but the "Extra Help" through Social Security will keep on giving throughout the year.