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Don’t ignore Social Security letter, CMS

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News from the Area VI Agency on Aging

During the months of May and June, Social Security is sending out letters to all those who, according to their records, may qualify for one of two important programs to reduce Medicare prescription costs and eliminate the Medicare Part B premium usually taken out of your Social Security retirement benefit each month.

If you are the recipient of a letter from Social Security and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) that states you may be eligible for help, call the Area VI Agency on Aging at 1-800-266-4188. We have staff in Lake, Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders counties and the Flathead Reservation who can further check whether you qualify and help you apply. 

The two programs are as follows:

The Low Income Subsidy (LIS), also called Extra Help, is run by the Social Security Program. Those who qualify for Extra Help have low copays, $0 - $8, for prescriptions. Extra Help also pays up to $34/month of the monthly prescription insurance premium, which for most people pays the whole premium.

The Medicare Savings Programs are run by the state Office of Public Assistance. If you qualify, the state pays your Medicare Part B monthly premium, rather than having it deducted from your Social Security monthly benefit, so the amount you receive each month goes up (by $134/month in 2018.) If you qualify for the highest level of MSP, any medical copays you have will also be paid.

The state has provided us with numbers of how many letters in each county have been sent out. The following numbers of people may qualify:  Mineral: 48, Lake: 221, Lincoln 188, Sanders: 118.  

The letters have the logos for Social Security and CMS at the top and begin with “You May Be Able to Save $1,608 or More in Medical Costs!” If you are receiving Social Security or Medicare, it’s because you contributed to those programs over the years in the form of payroll taxes. “You Gave, Now Save” is the slogan urging people who qualify to apply for the safety net programs already in place to make Medicare affordable for everyone. There are also other programs to help our older population stay in their homes and age with dignity.

Allow us to help you access the programs for which you qualify. You can’t get it if you don’t apply. Call the Agency on Aging at 1-800-266-4188 for assistance in Lake, Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders counties and the Flathead Reservation.

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