HELOISE Extra financial help available to pay premiums
Dear Heloise: I thought your readers would like to know that beginning in January 2006, Medicare will offer prescription-drug plans. However, now is the time to see if you qualify for some extra financial help in paying your monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments under the new program.
Social Security is mailing letters to nearly 19 million people who are potentially eligible for this extra help. This letter will explain the prescription-drug program and tell you how to apply for the extra help. Those who qualify could save an average of $2,100 per year.
To qualify for the extra help, a person or married couple living together must have a limited income and resources. You can qualify as an individual if your total annual income is below $14,355 and your resources are valued below $11,500. The limits for a married couple living together are higher -- $19,245 in combined annual income and $23,000 in resources. Even if your income is higher, you still might be able to get some help.
It is important to note that some beneficiaries will automatically qualify for the extra financial help. Anyone who has both Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income, or whose state pays his or her Medicare premiums will not have to complete an eligibility application. Even if you automatically qualify for extra help, you still need to enroll in a Medicare-approved prescription-drug plan to obtain both coverage and the extra help.
So, even if you do not get an application in the mail, you still might be eligible for help. See if you might qualify and apply online at Social Security's Web site, www.socialsecurity.gov. You can also contact Social Security at (800) 772-1213 (TTY  325-0778) for more information or to apply over the phone.
To learn more about the Medicare prescription-drug plans, call (800) MEDICARE ( 633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov. Oscar Garcia, public affairs specialist, Social Security Administration
Oscar, you are always so helpful, and I know my readers will have those phones ringing off the wall ... hope the operators are ready. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have 18 photo boxes labeled for each member of my extended family. All of my photos are being distributed to those I think are most interested in them. I'm 85 and need to clean house! A Reader in La Jolla, Calif.
Dear Heloise: Housewives beware! The liquid floor cleaner that sprays from the mop handle leaves a mess. It accumulated on my lower cabinet doors. I wasn't aware, and I used it for several months.
It dried, and I couldn't wash it off. I have just completed refinishing all of my cabinets -- the residue had to be sanded off! E. Gloria Walrond, Youngstown
Dear Heloise: I use a plastic bread-bag closure tab on the end of masking or duct tape. This makes finding the end a snap and works great. D.E. Green, Minneapolis
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate