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Miguel Palmer: Every dollar counts

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Posted: May 9, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

This is the line Charles Dickens used to open his novel "A Tale of Two Cities." It could just as easily be used to describe the situation for people who benefit from the marvels of modern medicine, yet find it difficult to afford the high costs of those prescription drugs.

This Mother's Day is the best of times to help your mom save an average of $3,900 a year on her prescription drug costs.
Here's how.

If your mother is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, she may be eligible for extra help - available through Social Security - to pay part of her monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments.

The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per 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 receiving Medicare and also have income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21,855 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 under certain conditions.

If she or her husband support other family members who live with them, have earnings from work or live in Alaska or Hawaii and have resources limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together, she may fit the conditions.

Resources include such things as stocks and bonds and bank accounts. We do not count her house or 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

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 pick one up at 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, help make this the best of times by saving your mom, or any loved one, an average of $3,900 a year on prescription drugs.

In times like these, every dollar counts.

Miguel Palmer is branch manager of the Santa Clarita Social Security Administration office. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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