My mother has been denied medicaid and social security, what other options are there?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My parents have recently moved in with me, because they live on a fixed income and although my father is now on medicare, my mother who was a homemaker all her life is still too young. My parents are having to pay for insurance for her and the cost went from $188 to $450 a month. They could no longer aford to keep her insured and live on their own. She has been denied for medicaid and since she was a homemaker all her life we are being told she will not receive SS. She has COPD and cannot even push a vaccuum for a few minutes without struggling to breathe. I wish that I was in a position to be able to pay for everything for her, but even with her insurance, this past month my husband and I had to pay over $600 for her medication alone. We cannot afford to do that again. What can I do? What happens to a woman who never worked, but stayed home to raise her kids.

Expert Answer

Even if your mother is not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits on her own work record, because she was not in the paid work force for long enough, she will still be eligible for Social Security dependents benefits as early as age 62, based on your father's work record. The amount of these benefits depends on the actual amount of your father's Social Security retirement benefits. Her Social Security dependents benefits could be as much as 50 percent of your father's retirement benefits amount. The percentage of your father's benefit that she would receive depends on her age when she claims her benefits. If she waits until her full retirement age (66), she would get the full 50 percent of your father's retirement benefits. If she claims these Social Security dependents benefits at less than full retirement age, the amount is reduced by a set amount for each month less than age 66.

To find out more about Social Security dependents benefits, including an estimate of how much your mother would be eligible for if she claimed these benefits at different ages, visit the Social Security Administration's dependents benefits Web pages.

As far as medical coverage is concerned, there is no simple overall solution if your parents have too much income or assets to qualify for Medicaid and your mother is not yet eligible for Medicare. However, they may be some ways for your mother -- with your help -- to reduce the cost of her prescription drugs. These include switching to a generic or less expensive equivalent prescription drug for some of the drugs she takes, or getting free sample drugs from her doctors. There may also be a state or local community drug cost assistance program she's eligible for. If she or your father is a military veteran, your mother might be eligible for veterans' benefits drug coverage. There are also pharmaceutical company and retail pharmacy prescription drug discount programs your mother might join. To learn more about help paying for the cost of your mother's prescription drugs when she's not eligible for Medicare drug coverage, see the page on this site called Saving Money on Prescription Drugs When Your Parent's Not Covered by a Medicare Part D Plan.