The cost of prescription drugs has really gotten out of hand and many seniors are struggling to afford the cost of their prescriptions. Without a doubt, the most effective way to lower your drug costs is by qualifying for the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy program.
Also known as “Extra Help” and “LIS”, this government program pays for some (potentially all) of the Part D premium and puts a cap on the cost of drug co-pays. Read on to see if you qualify and how to apply.
The Low Income Subsidy is a federal prescription drug assistance program for qualifying Medicare beneficiaries. For those who are eligible, it has 4 benefits:
Extra Help benefits differ based on what level your qualify.
Another benefit of Medicare Extra Help is that it eliminates the Medicare Coverage Gap (also known as the Donut Hole).
Not everyone is eligible for prescription drug assistance through the extra help program. There are income and resource limits in order to qualify.
Medicare counts the following as “Resources” for determining eligibility
Money in your checking, savings, retirement account, and brokerage account.
Medicare does not count your house, car, pre-paid funeral, and personal belongings towards your resource limit.
If you meet the following criteria you will be automatically enrolled in the Extra Help program:
If you don’t meet the above criteria, you can either call Social Security to apply at 1-800-772-1213 or you can follow the steps below to apply online.
In order to apply for Medicare Extra Help, go to the application page on Social Security’s website: https://secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start
Scroll to the bottom and select “Apply Now” to begin your application.
Enter your personal and financial information on the next several pages to give Medicare the information they need to make their decision.
If you are accepted, you will receive a letter in the mail letting you know what level of Extra Help you qualified and what your premiums / co-pays will be going forward.
Once you have Extra Help, you don’t need to take any action in order to renew it each year. You will however get a letter in the mail if you no longer qualify or if your level of Extra Help changes.
Yes! Not only is Medicare Extra Help (LIS) free, it will save you a lot of money if you qualify for it.
Overall, the Medicare Extra Help program is hugely beneficial for seniors and many don’t even know that they qualify. If you need help applying for have questions about whether you may qualify for Extra Help, schedule an appointment with us or give us a call. We’re happy to help.
Sylvia Gordon, aka Medicare Mama, is an expert on all things Medicare and Social Security. She is the 2nd Generation here at The Medicare Family and has served on the advisory boards of major insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare®, Cigna, and Anthem. In her free time, she can be found taking care of her animals (dogs, goats, peacocks, chickens), and reading a good book. Learn More.
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