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Seniors may be eligible for special Medicare coverage plan

By Staff | Jul 18, 2019

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is taking the time to reassure residents of Lee County that the letters they have received from the Social Security Administration are legitimate and they should seek out a SHINE counselor to help them apply for the Medicare programs outlined.

“About 12 million people nationwide use these programs to help cover the costs of medications, copays, deductibles, and Medicare premiums,” Camilita Aldridge, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida SHINE manager said in a prepared statement. “More than 17,000 people in Southwest Florida have received these letters. These programs can be a lifeline for older adults with limited incomes. Our SHINE counselors can help you apply and possibly save hundreds or thousands of dollars.”

Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida spokesperson Kirsten O’Donnell said typically, the Social Security Administration sends out letters concerning Medicare and Medicaid cost savings programs in June every year. In Lee County 6,100 seniors should have received their letters from Social Security in June, early July.

“These are federal programs for folks who have low incomes. Income requirements vary depending on the program,” she said.

According to the letter, the 2019 monthly income limit for Medicare Savings Program is $1,426 for a single and $1,923 for married (living together.) The letter also stated that the 2019 total resource limit for a single is $7,730 and married (living together) is $11,600.

“There are assets level requirements as well. They look at assets beyond vehicle and home,” she said. “You can apply for these benefits. Some of them are through Social Security Administration and some are through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They can be eligible through both of them if they meet the requirements.”

O’Donnell said they try and tell people to go and see a SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) counselor, which is a federal program that they run locally. She said the counselors help individuals with their benefits, as well as help them qualify for the programs.

“They dig into details of assets and income requirements and help them file the applications for these programs as well,” O’Donnell said, adding that some of the programs have to be renewed on an annual basis.

SHINE counselors are located at the Area Agency on Aging for SWFL, 15201 N. Cleveland Ave. Suite 1100, North Fort Myers; HealthPark Hospital, 9981 S. HealthPark Drive, Fort Myers; Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point, 23450 Via Coconut Point, Estero; Lee Health SHARE Club/ Healthy Life Center, 636 Del Prado Blvd, Cape Coral; Lee Memorial Hospital, 2776 S. Cleveland Ave. Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres Senior Center, 219 Plaza Drive, Lehigh Acres.

“Most of them require an appointment to see them,” O’Donnell said. “The service is free. It is completely government funded.”

For more information, visit www.floridashine.org, or call 866-41-Elder.

“The programs are out there for a reason. People should take advantage of it,” she said. “Medical costs are still so high and they are growing every year they seem like. If there is a program out there to help them out, they should definitely take advantage of it.”