Contact Us
Mental Health
Financial advice
Youth Matters
Techno Corner

Malti Patel

Q. I'll be 65 years old soon. When should I sign up for Medicare?

A. It is advisable to file for Medicare benefits three months before age 65. Remember, Medicare benefits can begin no earlier than age 65. If you are already receiving Social Security, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B without an additional application. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. You will receive a Medicare card about two months before age 65.

If you would like to file for Medicare only, you can apply by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Q. What are the income and resource requirements for the extra help with prescription drug costs?

A. If you are single and your annual income is below $14,700 (or $19,800 if you are married and living with your spouse), you may qualify for the extra help. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help. Some examples when your income may be higher include if you or your spouse:

" Support other family members who live with you;

" Have earnings from work; or

" Live in Alaska or Hawaii.

To get the extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs, your total resources generally must be limited to $11,700 as single (or $23,410 if you are married and living with your spouse).

Resources include the value of the things you own. Some examples are:

" Real estate (other than your primary residence);

" Bank accounts, including checking, savings and certificates of deposit;

" Stocks;

" Bonds, including U.S. Savings Bonds;

" Mutual funds;

" Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs); or

" Cash at home or anywhere else.

Q. How do I obtain a copy of the form, Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs, SSA-1020? A. If you just want to see the application form, you can view a sample at Instruction sheets are available in 15 different languages to help you understand the application.

If you wish to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs, use online application at

If you prefer not to fill out this application on the Internet, you can call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 for a paper application or to make an appointment for application. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tell the representative that you want to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs.

Q. I no longer need Medicare Part B, because I am covered by other health insurance. How do I dis-enroll?

A. If you wish to dis-enroll from Medicare Part B, you will need to submit form CMS-1763 to the Social Security Administration. The form is used to voluntarily terminate entitlement to Supplementary Medical Insurance (Part B) and Premium hospital Insurance and is owned by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS requires that a personal interview be conducted with every individual who wishes to terminate entitlement and so they do not offer form CMS-1763 on the public Internet site. The form will be completed during an in-person or phone interview so as to ensure that the beneficiary understands the ramifications of termination.

After the interview, our Social Security Administration representative is required to provide you with a letter outlining the consequences of voluntary termination and of the right to withdraw the termination request before coverage ends. Dis-enrolling is a serious decision; if you wish to reenroll later, you may have to pay a surcharge.

Termination of Medicare Part B will be effective at the end of the month following the month in which the termination request is filed.

For an interview, call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office.

These questions and answers are courtesy of Malti Patel, 1607 Wood Creek Lane, Allen, Texas-75002. Patel recently published a book "Lifting the Mists: A simple guide to a complex welfare system for elderly immigrants and their families." Contact Patel at to order the book.

Contact Information
The Editor:
Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2004 Khaas Baat.

Anything that appears in Khaas Baat cannot be reproduced, whether wholly or in part, without permission. Opinions expressed by Khaas Baat contributors are their own and do not reflect the publisher's opinion.

Khaas Baat reserves the right to edit and/or reject any advertising. Khaas Baat is not responsible for errors in advertising or for the validity of any claims made by its advertisers. Khaas Baat is published by Khaas Baat Communications.