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FAQ: Public Benefits

Q. What is the difference between Medicare Part A and Part B?
Medicare Part A pays for hospitalization, skilled nursing, home health care and hospice care. Medicare Part B pays for a range of outpatient services including doctor services.

While Medicare Part A is automatic, Part B is voluntary. If you elect Part B, the premium is deducted from your social security check each month. However, when you become eligible for Medicare if you elect not to take Part B and years later change your mind, a penalty in the form of a higher monthly premium will be coming out of your SS check.
Q. What is Part D?
Part D is the Medicare prescription drug program. It is organized differently than other parts of Medicare. The program relies heavily on private companies for coverage. There is no fixed premium that applies to all Part D plans. Instead, each plan sets its own monthly premiums. Plans also differ in the prescription drugs they cover, although national standards of coverage are required. Before choosing a Part D plan, check to see if the drugs you take are covered under the particular plan.
Q. What other benefits does Social Security provide?
Social Security is not limited to retirement income. Benefits can be paid to a retiree, that retiree’s current spouse, that retiree’s ex-spouse if their marriage lasted at least ten years, and that retiree’s child if the child is in high school. Social Security also provides disability benefits and survivor benefits.
Q. What are the eligibility requirements for SSI?
People who are 65 or older (and younger individuals who are blind or disabled) who meet the SSI income and resource test are eligible for monthly cash benefits. SSI insures a minimum monthly income to eligible individuals and couples. Only citizens and ‘qualified aliens’ who meet the above criteria are eligible.
Q. What are Veterans’ Pension benefits?
Veterans’ Pension benefits are need- based benefits paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and who are 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled due to non-service connected conditions. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for increased benefits based on Aid and Attendance or being housebound.
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