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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp Site Speeds Filing for Medicare Extra Help and Other Benefits

Based on the posting “NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp Now Allows Automatic Filing for Medicare Extra Help and Other Needed Benefits”, at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


If you are a senior citizen, and you think you may be eligible for Medicare’s Extra Help benefit, this article is for you. Or perhaps you know someone who may qualify for Extra Help, or other benefits, but is unaware of them. Whatever the case may be, this article is for you, as it discusses how the BenefitsCheckUp website is assisting older Americans with automatic filing for benefits they are entitled to. More specifically, could be especially helpful to the more than 630,000 who were "deemed eligible" in the first Medicare Part D enrollment period, but have lost their eligibility for the low income subsidy and must now apply for it. --D.R.


The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has added a new feature to its Web-based BenefitsCheckUp service that could assist several million people who are eligible for (but have not enrolled in) the Extra Help benefit, available through Medicare's Prescription Drug Coverage (also known as Part D). The new service, available at, could be especially helpful to the more than 630,000 people who were "deemed eligible" for Extra Help in 2006, but who have recently lost their automatic eligibility for this assistance and must now apply for it.

Speeding up Extra Help

"If someone with Medicare has limited income and resources, there's no reason not to apply for the Extra Help," said James Firman, NCOA president and CEO. "And now, anyone anytime can use the Web to speed up this process and find out if they can also get extra income or other help with paying for their medicines or health care expenses."

How to get Extra Help, and how much it helps

People must apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) first to find out if they qualify for Extra Help. If someone qualifies, they can save on average $3,700 a year since Medicare's Extra Help will pay their cost sharing, and they will have no gap in coverage (the donut hole). This year’s deadline for enrollment in a Medicare Part D plan is December 31, 2006.

People with Medicare, family members or caregivers can now use NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp site (at to submit their applications for Extra Help electronically, and receive immediate confirmation that SSA received the application.

The extra benefits of BenefitsCheckUp

In addition, without filling out any other questionnaire, the “BenefitsCheckUpRx - Extra Help with Prescription Costs” feature will tell users if they qualify for other federal or state benefits programs. These include programs that can save them money on health care (Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid), provide extra income (Supplemental Security Income), find other prescription savings (State Pharmacy Assistance Programs) or help in paying for food (Food Stamps).

Fast, free feature fits technology to need

"We added this new feature to BenefitsCheckUp because we received lots of requests from individuals and feedback from organizations involved in finding and helping people with Medicare that some other tool was needed," said Stuart Spector, senior vice president of the NCOA's Benefits Access Group. "The new BenefitsCheckUp Extra Help feature is free, it's fast and it is confidential."


NCOA, which led far-reaching outreach and enrollment efforts during the initial Part D enrollment period, continues its work in helping to find and enroll those who may be eligible for Medicare Extra Help. The Council is doing this through its ongoing support of local Access to Benefits Coalitions in 44 areas, and the second phase of its My Medicare Matters campaign.

Seniors nationwide should take advantage of NCOA’s efforts, since the only thing you have to lose is the size of your Medicare bill.

About the National Council on Aging

Founded in 1950, the National Council on Aging is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of older persons and to increasing their continuing contributions to communities, society, and future generations. For more information on NCOA, visit the National Council on Aging website (

About BenefitsCheckUp

Since 2001, 1.8 million people have used BenefitsCheckUp and 400,000 have found benefits programs that help them pay for prescription drugs, health care, rent, utilities, and other needs. For more information about how to become a BenefitsCheckUp Organizational Edition user, please send email to

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The article on this site and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for information on the license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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