In 2024, many more Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for help with their prescription drug costs under the Federal program known as Extra Help (aka, LIS, low income subsidy). If you narrowly missed qualifying for this program in the past, you should definitely reapply in 2024.
What is LIS/Extra Help?
Low income subsidy (LIS), also known as Extra Help, is a federal program that helps people with limited income and resources to lower or cut Part D (prescription drug) costs. The program can pay premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and other costs related to prescription drugs. It can also forgive a Part D late enrollment penalty (LEP) while the beneficiary is on the Extra Help program.
When Can I Apply for Extra Help?
If you are entitled to or enrolled in Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B, you can apply for Extra Help anytime. There are no specific enrollment periods that limit when you can apply.
Who Qualifies for Extra Help?
To qualify for Extra Help, you must reside in one the 50 States or the District of Columbia and be entitled to or enrolled in Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B. In addition, you must meet the income and resource (assets) requirements, which for 2024, are as follows:
For an individual: annual income of no more than $22,590, and resources of no more that $17,220.
For a married couple: annual income of no more than $30,660, and resources of no more that $34,360.
What Counts as Resources and Other Questions?
The good news is that your primary residence and cars do not count toward resources. For details about what does and does not count toward resources and answers to other questions, see Social Security Administration Publication No. 05-10508, Understanding the Extra Help with Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
What's New with Extra Help in 2024?
Up until 2023, Medicare beneficiaries whose income was up to 135% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) qualified for full LIS benefits. Partial benefits were available to those whose income was between 135% - 150% of the FPL. In 2024, full benefits have been expanded to members whose income is 135% - 150% of the FPL, thus making many more Medicare beneficiaries eligible for Extra Help. This change was made as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. See my blog post What Does the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Mean to You? for more information.