Thousands of Seniors Eligible for Help with Medicare Part B Premiums

~ By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

DENVER, CO  –  On January 1, most Medicare beneficiaries were expecting an increase in their Social Security check. However, many seniors did not see any of the increase as the Medicare Part B premium also increased to $134. The end result is that for many Medicare beneficiaries, the Social Security increase was used to pay the increase in the Part B premium.

The Medicare Part B deductible increased to $183 per year and the Part A deductible increased to $1,340 per benefit period. The co-pay for days 1-20 in a nursing home for skilled care stayed at zero; while the co-pay for days 21-100 increased to $167.50.

State and federal officials estimate that as many 70,000 Coloradoans might be eligible for the Medicare Savings Program. Many Colorado Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for assistance with all or some of the Medicare Part A and B costs through the Medicare Savings Program.

If your income from all sources such as Social Security, pensions, interest, and wages is less than $1377/month ($1847/month for a couple) and you have resources (savings, stocks, bonds, whole life insurance) of less than $8590 ($14,090/couple), then you may be eligible for help with your Medicare Part B premium and possibly other costs as well.

Individuals who receive assistance are allowed to own their home and cannot have a lien placed against the home according to federal law. You can also own a term life insurance policy, a car, and a burial plan and/or plot. Personal items and household goods are not counted.

You may already be receiving the Medicare Savings Program. To check to see if you are receiving help, either call the County Department of Human Services or check on your Social Security benefits statement. If your benefit statement indicates that the Part B premium is being paid by the State of Colorado, you are already signed up for the Program.

If you wish to apply for the Program, you must complete the application for Medicaid with the County Department of Human Services and submit documentation on your income and resources. Completing the form can be complicated and overwhelming. Finding all of the documentation can take time, but is worth more than $1600 per year in income that you can use for other necessities.

If you are approved, you will not get a check, but your Social Security check will be increased by as much as $134 per month. The longer you wait to apply, the less money you will have to spend on other living expenses.

If you were receiving help, but are not currently receiving help, you may have missed the re-determination deadline. Each year, you must update your information with the County Department of Human Services. To start receiving the Program again, you will need to re-apply.

Sometimes when people apply, they are denied. Frequently, these denials are the result of processing errors. If you think you might be eligible, contact our office to have a counselor review your application.

Individuals who are eligible for the Program, are also eligible to receive help with prescription drugs through the Extra Help program. To apply for Extra Help, you must apply through the Social Security Administration. Extra Help can pay for Part D premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, often saving as much as $4000 per year according to Medicare officials.

Don’t miss out on receiving help any longer. If you need help applying for either Program, lost your benefits, or are not sure if you are eligible, call a counselor at 303-333-3482 or 1-855-293-6911.

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982. She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University. She can be contacted at 303-333-3482 or doherty001@att.net.