June 2, 2011

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


Father’s Day is right around the corner. Perhaps you’ll give Dad the usual gift: a necktie, shaving set, leather wallet, or new fishing lure. But there’s something he may appreciate even more. People all over the country are helping their dads save nearly $4,000 a year on the cost of prescription drugs. You can help your dad too — and it won’t cost you a dime.

The high cost of prescription medication can be a burden on fathers (or anyone) who have limited income and resources. But there is Extra Help — available through Social Security — that could pay part of his 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 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 enrolled in Medicare and have:

• Annual income limited to $16,335 for an individual or $22,065 for a married couple living together. Even if his income is higher, he 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 he or his 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 his house and car as resources.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can help complete for your dad. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov. 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 www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

Of course, the Extra Help is not just for fathers. Anyone who is entitled to Medicare and has limited income and resources may be eligible.


At Social Security, our goal is to make sure you are paid the correct amount, on time, every month. Some things have made that job easier over our more than 70 years of paying benefits, such as direct deposit and electronic application systems. But some of the factors that determine your payment amount still depend on good old fashioned human intervention. And in some cases, getting the correct payment amount depends on you.

You certainly don’t want to be paid less than you’re entitled to receive. But what can be even more difficult, in the long run, is to be overpaid — in which case you’ll probably have to pay us back, cutting your payment down each month until the debt is repaid.

What can cause an overpayment? Sometimes an overpayment (or even an underpayment) occurs because the person receiving benefits did not report a change to us.

For example, if you receive Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and are under your full retirement age and working, we usually ask you to estimate your earnings for the year. If you realize your earnings will be higher or lower than you estimated, let us know as soon as possible so we can adjust your benefits. If you receive Social Security disability benefits, you should tell us if you take a job or become self-employed, no matter how little you earn. You also need to report if you begin receiving or have a change in any worker’s compensation or other public disability benefits — or if your disabling condition improves.

If you receive SSI, you need to report any changes that can increase or reduce the amount of your benefit, such as changes in address (even if you get electronic payments), changes in living arrangements, income, or increased savings that inch over the resource limit ($2,000 for an individual, $3,000 for a couple). Any changes in your living arrangements, income, or resources could change your SSI payment amount.

Learn more about the kinds of things you need to report when you receive Social Security retirement and survivors benefits by reading our online publication: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10077.html. Read about reporting responsibilities for people receiving Social Security disability benefits here: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10153.html. Learn all about the sorts of things to report when you receive SSI by reading over this online publication: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html

If you’re underpaid in any given month, once we verify the information that caused you to be underpaid, we will send you any money you are due. If you’re overpaid, read our online fact sheet to learn what happens next: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10098.html. With your help and by diligently reporting any applicable changes, we’ll achieve a goal we can all agree on: paying you the right amount, on time, every month.