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July 21, 2005

 

Contact: Tom Towslee, DHS SPD Communications Officer, (503) 947-5207

 

Program Contact: Jane-ellen Weidanz, DHS MMA project manager, 503-945-6444 or 503-551-8121.

 

Low-income Oregonians may qualify for extra help with drug costs

 

Low-income Oregonians need should to apply this summer if they want to qualify for extra financial assistance to reduce or eliminate costs associated with the new federal prescription drug program that starts next year.

 

Oregonians enrolled in or covered by Medicare and Medicaid, SSI, or a Medicare Savings Program automatically qualify for extra help, which can be used to cover the new program’s monthly premiums and deductibles.

 

“Social Security may process as many as 20 million applications for this Limited Income Subsidy,” said Bryan Johnston, interim director of the Oregon Department of Human Services. “So, the sooner those who feel they may be eligible apply, the sooner they will know if they qualify and get the extra help they need next year.”

 

Those with incomes under $14,355 a year and resources under $10,000 are most likely to qualify for the extra help. Resources are defined as savings, investments, and real property other than a home.

 

Those who are married and living with spouses may qualify as well if they have incomes under $19,245 a year and resources under $20,000.  Resource limits are higher if money is to be used for burial expenses; $1,500 per person is allowed.

 

The Social Security Administration is sending applications to more than 260,000 Oregonians who may qualify for this extra help. Letters and applications are being mailed through the middle of August.

 

Those who do qualify may also be eligible for other forms of financial help, such as a Medicare Savings Program, said James Toews, DHS assistant director? for  Seniors and People with Disabilities.

 

The new Medicare drug coverage, part of the Medicare Modernization Act signed by President Bush in 2003, begins on January 1, 2006. To learn more about the program, to receive an application for extra help, or to get assistance filling out the application, contact Social Security.  The toll-free number is 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

 

The Oregon Department of Human Services can provide information and assistance to anyone unable to contact Social Security.  Call DHS at 1-877-585-0007 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.