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Knowledge is money: State and federal assistance programs

Many people in Pennsylvania and across the United States are still in need of various types of medical and financial help. There are several programs such as federal and state plans like Medicaid, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income that can be a great help to people struggling to make ends meet.

Senior citizens who are low-income and those who are disabled automatically qualify for Medicaid if they are eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Those who receive SSI generally earn no more than $1,433 per month for a single person or $2,107 for a couple. If not working, income does not normally exceed $694 each month for a single person or $1,031 for a couple. Even those who make more than the numbers above should apply because the actual rules are very complex and some assets do not count toward the total.

Medicare subsidies could save an individual $1,157 per year in monthly premiums for Medicare part B.

The Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program pays Medicare part A and B premiums, co-pays and deductibles. To qualify, your income should be below the federal poverty level. The current poverty level is a household of two making no more than $14,570. Those who qualify are automatically enrolled.

The Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program pays part B premiums if you qualify. To qualify, your income should be below 120 percent of the federal poverty level or no more than $17,484 for a family of two. Those who qualify for this program are also automatically enrolled.

The Qualified Individual program also pays part B premiums. To qualify, your income must be below 135 percent of the federal poverty level, which is no more than $19,670 per year for a family of two. Not everyone who applies is accepted because of limited funding.

Drug cost subsidies in part D is an extra help program designed to save money on drug costs by covering all or some premiums and co-pays. It could save you as much as $3,900 each year. To qualify, your income cannot exceed $15,600 for a single person or $21,000 for a family of two.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Are you eligible for financial assistance?" Sept. 27, 2011

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