Hunt for Medicare Part D

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.

Hunting season is open. Rather than hunting for game, may we recommend setting your sights on the Part D Medicare prescription drug plan that is best for you?

You will have more time than usual this year because open season is lasting longer than usual.

If you currently are enrolled in Medicare and are considering changes to your Medicare Part D plan, act now. The "open season" runs until Dec. 7.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the cost of medications. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. Many people qualify for these big savings and don't even know it.

To figure out whether you are eligible for the Extra Help, Social Security needs to know your income and the value of any savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home you live in).

To qualify, you must be receiving Medicare and have the following:

Income limited to $16,755 for an individual or $22,695 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help. Some examples where your income may be higher include if you or your spouse supports other family members who live with you, have earnings from work, or live in Alaska or Hawaii.

Resources limited to $13,070 for an individual or $26,120 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count your house or car as resources.

You can complete an easy-to-use online application for Extra Help at Click on Medicare on the top right side of the page. Then click on "Get Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs."

To apply by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020), or go to your nearest Social Security office.

If you would like more information about the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, visit or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227; TTY 877-486-2048).

So this open season, hunt for something that could put an extra $4,000 in your pocket — bag the best Medicare prescription drug plan for you and see if you qualify for the Extra Help through Social Security.

New hours

Effective Monday, the Gainesville Social Security office will be open to the public from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, a reduction of 30 minutes each weekday. In addition, beginning Jan. 2, the office will close to the public at noon every Wednesday.

In addition, on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, all Social Security field offices will be closed to the public.

However, most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office. Many are available at or by calling 800-772-1213 (800-325-0778 TTY). Many services also are available in Spanish at

Kay Louder is the district manager of the Social Security office in Gainesville.

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