Do You Need Help Paying for Your Prescriptions?

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Do you ever have difficulty paying for your prescription drugs? Do you

have limited income and assets? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions and

you are a person with Medicare, Extra Help may be available for you.

The federal Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, also known as Extra Help, assists

qualified Medicare beneficiaries with out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare

Part D prescription drug expenses. There are more than 70,000 Medicare beneficiaries

in North Carolina who may be eligible for this program but have yet to apply. The

Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program—or SHIIP— is a division of the N.C.

Department of Insurance that can help beneficiaries understand and apply for this


“Many Medicare beneficiaries are not aware that this assistance program is available to

them,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “SHIIP can help people with

Medicare understand what they may be qualified to receive.”

To qualify for Extra Help, a Medicare beneficiary must meet certain income, resource

and asset level requirements. The income and asset limits for Extra Help are $1,471.25

per month with assets up to $13,640 if you are single, and $1,991.25 per month with

assets up to $27,250 if you are married.

Income includes monthly earnings, Social Security and Veterans’ benefits, disability

payments, cash contributions, retirements and pensions. Resources and assets include

the value of items that the person owns, such as cash, stocks, bonds, retirement

accounts, the value of a second car, boats and any real property that is not the primary

residence and does not produce income. Resources do not include appliances and

other household furnishings, clothing or other personal items, such as jewelry. Assets

excluded from the evaluation process are a home, all property attached to the home,

personal belongings, one vehicle and irrevocable burial contracts and plots.

Individuals who qualify for these programs will receive Extra Help with their Medicare

Part D prescription drug plans at the 100 percent level. This means they will pay a

reduced co-pay of $2.65 for generic drugs and $6.60 for name-brand drugs, as well as

lower monthly premiums.

When you apply for Extra Help through Social Security’s website, you can also choose

the option to apply for Medicare Savings Programs during the online application

process. The SHIIP office can assist you with applying online for the Extra Help

program and, subsequently, the Medicare Savings Programs through the Social

Security Administration website at Medicare beneficiaries may

also apply online themselves or by contacting the Social Security Administration at 1-

800-772-1213, or with the help of a SHIIP volunteer at 252-527-2191.

SHIIP, a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance, has volunteers in all

100 counties in North Carolina who offer one-on-one counseling and provide free,

unbiased information about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Part D,

Medicare Advantage and health plan options and long-term care insurance. To contact

SHIIP, call 1-855-408-1212 or visit In Lenoir County SHIIP operates out of Lenoir County Cooperative Extension. Call 252-527-2191 for more information about Medicare or to become a SHIIP volunteer.