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Medicare Beneficiaries Face Loss of Low Income Subsidy; BenefitsCheckUp Helps Determine Eligibility for Benefit

Contact:
Georgiana Bloom
202.609.6935
georgiana.bloom@ncoa.org

Washington, DC – September 29, 2008 – Medicare beneficiaries who receive the Part D Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy (LIS), which helps low income people pay for prescription drugs, could benefit from BenefitsCheckUp® if they lose their "deemed" or automatic eligibility, for 2009.

Beginning in September, hundreds of thousands LIS beneficiaries began receiving notices from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notifying them they no longer qualified for deemed status.  They are among the nearly eight million Medicare recipients with limited income and resources who were deemed automatically eligible in 2008 because they received Medicaid, SSI and/or one of the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs).

The loss in status is initiated when a state or the Social Security Administration (SSA) has notified CMS that an individual no longer qualifies for Medicaid, SSI or a MSP.  However, based on income and assets, a person with Medicare who loses their deemed status may still be eligible for LIS, which can be easily determined by going to www.benefitscheckup.org, where one can also apply for the benefit.  A free, Web-based service developed and maintained by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), BenefitsCheckUp helps older Americans find and enroll in benefits programs that help with vital needs.

"We want all eligible seniors to be able to get help paying for their prescription drugs, a need growing more critical in these anxious economic times," said Stuart Spector, NCOA senior vice president.  "Through BenefitsCheckUp, older people with limited income and resources can find out if they are eligible to continue receiving LIS for 2009 – as well as apply for the first time."

The notifications sent by CMS about losing deemed status include an application for Part D Extra Help/LIS, which has to be filled out and mailed to the SSA.  That same application can be accessed and sent electronically via http://www.benefitscheckup.org/extrahelp.cfm, which can mean a faster turn-around time than using a paper application and can be used by anyone with Medicare and a limited income who wants to apply for the program.

After filling out the Extra Help/LIS application on www.benefitscheckup.org, individuals can view other programs for which they may be eligible, including help with medical care, food, heating bills, housing and tax relief.

Since its launch in 2001, BenefitsCheckUp has helped more than two million older people find more than $6.6 billion in annual benefits.  The free online service has more than 1550 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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About NCOA
Founded in 1950, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a non-profit organization with 3,700 members, and a national network of some 14,000 organizations and leaders. Our programs help older people stay healthy and independent, find jobs, access benefits programs, and discover meaningful ways to continue contributing to society.

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