Times like now, every dollar counts

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fathers are often known for their good advice, whether it’s how to catch a ball, ace a job interview, grill the perfect burger or get the best deal on a new car.

But if your father is struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs, maybe it’s time for you to give him a few words of advice. You may be able to help your dad save an average of $3,900 a year on his prescription drug costs.  Here’s how.

If your father, or any father figure you know, is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, he may qualify for extra help — available through Social Security — to pay part of his monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments.  The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per 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 receiving Medicare and also have:

u Income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21, 855 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.

u Resources limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count his house or car as resources.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete.  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.

Paul D. Barnes is Social Security Regional Commissioner in Atlanta. For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov.