May 2, 2011


By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


Mother’s Day is right around the corner. It’s always nice to give Mom a card, flowers, and candy. But this year people all over the country are helping their moms save nearly $4,000 a year on the cost of prescription drugs. You can help your mom too — and it won’t cost you a dime.

The high cost of prescription medication can be a burden on mothers (or anyone) who have limited income and resources. But there is Extra Help — available through Social Security — that could pay part of her monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. That Extra Help is worth an average of almost $4,000 a year.

To figure out whether your mother is eligible, Social Security needs to know her income and the value of her savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home she lives in). To qualify for the Extra Help, she must be enrolled in Medicare and have:

• Income limited to $16,335 for an individual or $22,065 for a married couple living together. Even if her annual income is higher, she still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Some examples where income may be higher include if she or her spouse:
—Support other family members who live with them;
—Have earnings from work; or
—Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and
• Resources limited to $12,640 for an individual or $25,260 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count her house and car as resources.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete for your mom. You can find it at Just select the link on the left of the page that says, “Get extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs.” 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.

To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and special enrollment periods, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

So this Mother’s Day, give your mom a gift she can really use year-round — a savings of up to $4,000 a year on her prescription drugs. Flowers whither and candy is consumed, but the Extra Help through Social Security will keep on giving throughout the year.


Older Americans Month is an occasion to show appreciation and support for our seniors as they continue to enrich and strengthen our communities. This May, the theme — Older Americans: Connecting the Community — pays homage to the many ways in which older adults bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of our communities and highlights how technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier, and more engaged lives.

Social Security uses technology to make dealing with Social Security easier for seniors. We offer a variety of services at Just look at the “top services” column to the left of the page to see the wide range of services that technology allows us to offer online.

Social Security has a special relationship with American seniors since we pay benefits, at one time or another, to just about every one of them. Nine out of ten Americans aged 65 or older receive Social Security benefits.

Here are some more statistics to consider. Among older Social Security beneficiaries, 52 percent of married couples and 72 percent of unmarried persons receive half or more of their income from Social Security. Older Americans are a growing group, too. Life expectancy continues to rise, and by 2035, it’s estimated that there will be twice as many older Americans as there are today.

Older Americans, as well as people who don’t expect to retire anytime soon, who use Social Security’s website give it consistently high customer satisfaction ratings. Right now you can get an estimate of your future retirement benefits, plan your retirement, even apply for retirement benefits right over our website. Visit us online at

Learn more about what you can do to celebrate Older Americans Month by visiting the organization’s website.