Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Social Security Administration Says 3 Million Applied for Low-Income Drug Benefit

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005 -- The Social Security Administration announced Thursday that some 3 million people have submitted applications to qualify for the low-income prescription drug benefit provided under the Medicare overhaul law (PL 108-173).

Those who qualify will pay no or low premiums and deductibles, and generally will pay far lower co-payments per prescription than beneficiaries who receive standard Medicare prescription drug benefits.

On average, the added assistance available under the low-income benefit is $2,100 per year, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The applications filed with SSA are used to determine whether the beneficiary meets asset test requirements. If assets exceed specified levels, applicants do not qualify for the low-income benefit even if they are eligible based on yearly income. If the asset test is met, beneficiaries enroll separately in low-income drug plans.

"This is an unprecedented initial response for a voluntary federal program for people with limited means," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark B. McClellan. SSA didn't say how many of the 3 million applicants actually met the asset test, but McClellan said, "we expect that many of them will qualify."

McClellan also said CMS actuaries have projected that 4.6 million beneficiaries would enroll in the low-income benefit by 2006. "This is a good start in that direction," he said.

Commissioner of Social Security Jo Anne Barnhart said "work is far from over," and that her agency began work in May on mailing out more than 19 million applications to potential candidates for the low-income benefit. The agency is now in the process of making follow-up contacts with those who did not respond to the initial mailing.

Publication Details