Some help with Medicare prescription costs

Think of all the times and ways that you have been there to help friends, relatives, or even strangers.  Lending a hand, at a time of need, is an important part of being human.  We can all use a little help at times.  Can you use some help today?  Social Security can assist you with the Extra Help program — that can reduce or eliminate Medicare prescription drug costs.

If you are covered by Medicare and have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for Extra Help — available through Social Security — to pay part of prescription drug monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.

That means putting $4,000 in your pocket without having to spend a dime!

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


  • Income limited to $17,235 for an individual or $23,265 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you 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 you and your spouse, support other family members who live with you or if you have earnings from work.


  • Resources limited to $13,300 for an individual or $26,580 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, cash, and bonds. We do not count the value of a house or car as a resource.

Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can complete quickly. 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 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).


Kirk Larson, who wrote this article, is a public affairs specialist in western Washington for Social Security.