Extra Help with Medicare and Prescription Drug Costs

By Vonda Vantil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Paying out of pocket for prescription drugs can be a burden that many households can’t afford. The Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs program was designed to help people in getting the vital medicine they need to live healthy and productive lives.

Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income may also be able to get Extra Help to pay for the costs — monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments — related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. Extra Help can be worth up to $4,900 per year.

To qualify for Extra Help in 2019, your resources must be limited to $14,390 for an individual or $28,720 for a married couple living together.

You can apply for Extra Help at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp. You can also call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to apply over the phone or request an application, or if you prefer, you can apply at your local Social Security office.

To prepare for your application you should:

  • Identify the things you own alone, with your spouse, or with someone else, but do not include your home, vehicles, burial plots, life insurance policies, or personal possessions;
    • Review all your income; and
    • Gather your records in advance to save time.

The records you’ll need are:

  • Statements that show your account balances at banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions;
    • Investment statements;
    • Stock certificates;
    • Tax returns;
    • Pension award letters; and
    • Payroll slips.

The program was created because there is a great need for prescription drug assistance. Social Security is here to help. To learn more about the Extra Help program, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

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