Fall mailings from Social Security and Medicare

by Pat Hafermann

Some of you may be getting notices from Social Security or Medicare or both about your enrollment in Medicare Part D or your receipt of extra help with your Medicare Part D prescription drug costs through the low-income subsidy program. These mailings begin in the fall in anticipation of the new Medicare Part D plan year, which begins Jan. 1, 2010. Enrollment for the new year begins Nov. 15, 2009 and ends Dec. 31, 2009.

In September 2009, Medicare and Social Security mailed notices on gray paper to people who will no longer automatically qualify for extra help with Medicare Part D prescription drugs through the low-income subsidy program. This notice explained why the assistance was no longer automatic.

An application for the low-income subsidy was included with this notice and Medicare beneficiaries who received this gray notice should complete the enclosed application and return it to Social Security to determine if they are still eligible for extra help with their Medicare Part D prescription drugs. Beneficiaries who received this notice and who do not reapply for extra help will not receive assistance with their prescription drug costs in January of 2010.

In October 2009, Medicare mailed notices on orange paper to Medicare beneficiaries who will continue to receive extra help through the low-income subsidy but who will have a change in their level of copayment for Medicare Part D prescription drugs.

In November 2009, Medicare will mail notices on blue paper to Medicare beneficiaries who receive extra help through the low-income subsidy and who were assigned to their current low-cost plan by Medicare. This notice will notify them that they will be reassigned to a different low-cost plan for 2010.

Beneficiaries who receive these notices can do nothing and receive coverage through the low-cost plan Medicare picked for them for 2010 or they can do their own plan search on Medicare.gov and select their own low-cost plan for 2910.

In November 2009, Medicare will mail notices on tan paper to Medicare beneficiaries who receive extra help through the low-income subsidy and who selected their own plan in 2009. This notice will notify them that if they keep their current low-cost plan for 2010, they will have to pay a portion of the premium in 2010.

Beneficiaries who receive the tan notices can do nothing and stay in that plan for 2010, but they will be responsible for paying a portion of their premium.

Beneficiaries can also do their own plan search on Medicare.gov and select a low-cost plan to fit their needs for 2010 that will not require them to pay a portion of the premium.

If you receive a notice and have questions, you can call 1-800-Medicare, your local Social Security office, or your elderly benefits specialist.

If you have any additional questions, you may call Pat Hafermann, elderly benefits specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center, at (920) 459-4389.

Resource: “The Specialist” October 2009


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