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Public Benefits That Can Help

Medicaid: A federal and state health insurance program, Medicaid assists people with limited resources. Some who may be eligible for Medicaid include disabled or older individuals, and, in some cases, grandparents taking care of grandchildren. Certain people with higher incomes and high medical bills may also qualify. Each state designs and runs its own program, so eligibility criteria and covered services vary. People with Medicare on limited incomes may also qualify for Medicaid, which covers services that Medicare does not. These include long-term nursing home care and, depending on the state, personal or other home care services, eye exams, eyeglasses, and transportation to medical care. For information, call the local Department of Social or Human Services, which can be found in the phone book. Or, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website to learn more.

Medicare Savings Programs: These programs can help pay for out-of-pocket Medicare costs if income and assets are limited. These programs include the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and the Qualifying Individuals (QI). The QMB program will pay for Medicare premiums, deductibles and coinsurance for eligible people who qualify for Part A. It will also pay for the annual Part B deductible and the 20 percent coinsurance costs. If your income is too high to qualify for QMB, you may qualify for SLMB or QI, which pay for the Part B monthly premium only.

Food Benefits Programs: Now referred to as SNAP, these food programs help people with limited resources buy food. They are free and come in the form of coupons or an electronic benefit card that looks like a credit card. How much someone receives depends on his or her assets, expenses and how many people live in the household. Residences with a person age 60 and older must adhere to specific rules. To apply, call your loved one's local Department of Social or Human Services, or visit  

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI pays monthly income benefits to people age 65 and over, as well as to the blind or disabled if they have limited resources. People may receive both Social Security and SSI payments if they meet the requirements. Check out the Social Security Administration's web site to learn more or to apply.

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