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Low-Income Subsidy -- Medicare Extra Help Program

What is the Medicare Low-Income Subsidy?

Eligible individuals who have limited income may qualify for a government program that helps pay for Medicare Part D prescription drug costs. The Medicare low-income subsidy, also known as the Medicare Extra Help program, can amount to estimated savings of $4,000 per year.

Medicare beneficiaries receiving the low-income subsidy (LIS) get assistance in paying for their Part D monthly premium, annual deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. Also, individuals enrolled in the Extra Help program do not have a gap in prescription drug coverage, also known as the Medicare donut hole.

Medicare Extra Help eligibility

You may qualify for the low-income subsidy available under Medicare Part D if:

  • Your assets are less than $13,440 (single individual) or $26,860 (married couple living together)

  • Your annual income is less than $17,235 (single individual) or $23,265 (married couple living together).

  • Your annual income is higher than the eligibility limit, but you support other family members who also live in the same household; or you live in Hawaii or Alaska.

Assets that count toward eligibility include:

  • Cash and bank accounts, including checking, savings, and certificates of deposit

  • Real estate outside of your primary residence

  • Stocks and bonds, including U.S. savings bonds

  • Mutual funds and IRAs

When calculating eligibility for the low-income subsidy, Medicare does not count resources such as your home (or primary residence); insurance policies; or a car. Many people qualify for Medicare Extra Help savings and do not know it. The best way to find out if you qualify is to go ahead and apply.

How to apply for Medicare Extra Help

To apply for the Medicare low-income subsidy, simply fill out an "Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs" (SSA-1020) form with Social Security. You can apply and submit this form by:

  • Applying online at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

  • Calling Social Security at 1-800-771-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and requesting an application be mailed to you or applying over the phone.

  • Applying in person at your local Social Security office.

After you submit your application, Social Security will review it and send you a notification in the mail if you are eligible. If you qualify for Extra Help and are not yet enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan, you can sign up for a plan at that time.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.