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Medicare prescription drug benefit application assistance available from Blair Senior Services

The new Medicare prescription drug benefit will go into effect on January 1, 2006. But for some, the first step in the process of determining how they will receive their prescriptions next year has begun.
Some individuals will be eligible automatically, while others will receive information from the Social Security Administration via mail.
Several meetings have been set up throughout the area to help individuals who need assistance completing the necessary application. Mike Smith, Community Services Worker II of Blair Senior Services, Inc., coordinates the Apprise Health Insurance Counseling Program in Blair County and scheduled this series of meetings to help people complete applications for extra assistance in locations throughout the Blair County area, beginning this month and running through September. No appointment is needed to attend any of the meetings. Certain information will be needed to complete the application.
On Wednesday, July 20 volunteers will be at the Tyrone Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then on August 8, a meeting will be held at the Bellwood Senior Center from 10:30 a.m. to noon. A second meeting will be held at the Tyrone Senior Center on Wednesday, August 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“If you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for extra help with paying for your monthly premiums, deductibles and co-pays under the new prescription drug program,” said Mike Smith
A recent press release from Blair Senior Services explained the Social Security Administration determines who is eligible for extra help. Those who have Medicare and also have either prescription drug coverage through Medicaid or SSI, or if Medicare premiums are paid for by the state, that individual will automatically get the extra help. A letter will be sent out in the coming weeks explaining enrollment. Medicare will also mail more information about choosing and enrolling in a prescription drug plan later this fall.
Others, that have limited income and resources may also be eligible for some level of help in paying for their prescriptions.
Beginning on May 27, the Social Security Administration sent out applications to Medicare beneficiaries that may be eligible for assistance. These applications will be mailed to over 930,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania through the end of August. Individuals whose income is below $14,355 per year for a single individual or $19,245 for a married couple with resources below $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for a married couple, may be eligible for some subsidy.
Smith said, “To find out if you qualify for any assistance, you must complete an application. If you receive an application in the mail, complete it and return it in the envelope provided. I you need help, plan to attend an Apprise meeting.”
Beginning July 1, the Social Security Administration will begin notifying those who have submitted an application if they are eligible for any of the subsidies.
Anyone attending a meeting will need certain information in order to complete the application.
According to Blair Senior Services, Individuals will need to know the amount of income received from Railroad Retirement, Veteran’s benefits, other pensions or annuities, alimony, wages, self-employment net earnings, net rental income, Workers’ Compensation, any help received from other people to pay for household expenses, such as food, mortgage or rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water and property taxes and any other income.
Individuals will also need to provide the value of the following resources: bank accounts, including checking, savings and certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRA’s or other investments, cash, any real estate other than your home, and life insurance policies for both spouses if married and living together. Also, how much money would be received if the individuals life insurance policy was cashed in. This information can be obtained by calling the insurance company or agent to get the exact cash value.
Individuals may contact Mike Smith at 946-1235 with any questions.