Submitted By: Kirsten O’Donnell, MBA
North Fort Myers, FL – Millions of Americans are receiving letters from the Social Security Administration about programs that could help pay their health care expenses, including 6,100 Lee County residents. Recipients of these letters are likely eligible for federal programs that can potentially cover the costs of prescriptions, copays, premiums and other Medicare expenses.
Although these letters may sound too good to be true, the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) wants to reassure seniors that these letters from the Social Security Administration are legitimate. Recipients are encouraged to contact SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) at AAASWFL to determine if they are eligible and receive application assistance.
SHINE Medicare counselors provide free, unbiased, and personalized assistance with Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug plans, and long-term care insurance. Offered locally through the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida, SHINE empowers seniors, their caregivers, and family members to make informed decisions about health care coverage. SHINE is a volunteer program of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and part of the national SHIP Program.
The cost-saving programs referenced in the Social Security letters include Extra Help, a low-income subsidy program for Medicare Part D prescription benefits. Other Medicare Savings programs include the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program (QMB) and the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program (SLMB). Individuals with a monthly income below $1,518.00 may be eligible for one or more of these programs, and couples with a monthly income below $2,058.00 may qualify.
“About 12 million people nationwide use these programs to help cover the costs of medications, copays, deductibles, and Medicare premiums,” explains Camilita Aldridge, AAASWFL’s SHINE manager. “More than 17,000 people in Southwest Florida have received these letters. These programs can be a lifeline for older adults with limited incomes. Our SHINE counselors can help you apply and possibly save hundreds or thousands of dollars.”
AAASWFL provides SHINE counseling services at locations across Southwest Florida. To make an appointment with a SHINE counselor, call AAASWFL’s toll-free Elder Helpline at 1-866-413-5337. A list of counseling sites can also be found on the SHINE website: www.floridashine.org.
Currently celebrating its 40th year of service, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit organization serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties. AAASWFL is the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida. The organization is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. In addition to SHINE, supported programs include the Elder Helpline, health and wellness programming, and elder abuse prevention education.
More information is available at www.aaaswfl.org or by calling the toll-free Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER).