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Social Security Q&A Part 5

By Vonda Vantil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: If I call 1-800-772-1213, can a Social Security representative take my application for Medicare prescription drug help over the phone?

Answer: If an interviewer is available when you call the 800 number, he or she can take your application over the phone. If an interviewer is not immediately available, we can schedule a telephone appointment for you. For the fastest and most convenient way to apply for Medicare prescription drug help, go online to www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Question: I want to apply for Medicare Part B medical insurance this year. When is the deadline to apply?

Answer: If you didn’t sign up for Medicare Part B medical insurance when you first became eligible for Medicare, you have an opportunity to apply during the general enrollment period, which runs from January 1 through March 31 each year. If you miss the deadline, you may have to wait until next year to apply. Medicare Part B covers some medical expenses not covered by Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), such as doctors’ fees, outpatient hospital visits, and other medical supplies. You can learn more about Medicare by reading our electronic booklet, Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.

Question: If I have a question about my Medicare bill, who should I contact?

Answer: First, contact your provider. If you are unable to get your question answered or the problem resolved, then contact 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). For more information about Medicare benefits, visit www.medicare.gov.

Question: I’ve been receiving SSI for a few years and recently went back to work. My boss wants me to work full time and I feel like I can do the job, but I’m concerned about losing my Medicaid coverage. If my SSI payments stop due to my earnings, can I still keep my Medicaid?

Answer: In most cases, Medicaid coverage will continue even if your earned income is too high to receive an SSI payment. In order to qualify for this coverage, the following provisions apply:

  • You are still blind or have a disability; and
  • You meet all the SSI eligibility requirements, except for the amount of your earnings; and
  • You were eligible to receive a regular SSI cash payment for at least one month before you became eligible under Section 1619 of the Social Security Act; and
  • You were eligible for Medicaid coverage in the month before you became eligible under Section 1619; and
  • You need continued Medicaid in order to work; and
  • Your earnings would not replace the value of your SSI cash benefits, your Medicaid benefits, and any publicly funded personal or attendant care you receive that would be lost due to your earnings.

The amount you can earn and still receive Medicaid varies from state to state. You may call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) for more information.

Question: I’m going to visit relatives outside the country for two weeks. Can I still get Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) payments while I’m there?

Answer: Your SSI usually will stop if you leave the United States for 30 consecutive days or more. Since you are going to be away for only two weeks, your SSI should not be affected. However, it’s important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back. Then we can let you know whether your SSI will be affected. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov 

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