Mark Harvey — Welcome May: Here’s a little of this and whole lot of that


Good morning! It’s May! And hope springs eternal, if we let it. Let it.

Some of us may have encountered the phrase “on task,” along the labyrinthine ways of our lives – it simply means that we were paying attention to what we were doing – concentrating – not letting ourselves be distracted by the less pressing or seductively inconsequential. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been ON TASK for quite a few weeks now.

And there always comes a time, particularly in my work, when it’s worth the time to go back through “THE PILE” to see what I may have missed, because I never know what might be very important to somebody, so here’s a little of this and a little of that – We’ll start with a “this:”

You may or may not have ever heard the phrase “pharmaceutical assistance programs.” It refers to a group of programs designed and run by the various pharmaceutical manufacturers that sometimes, depending upon your income and other circumstances, may help you get a particular prescription drug at a substantially discounted price, or even free. This is particularly relevant if you are (a) in the Part D “doughnut hole,” or (b) don’t even qualify for Medicare yet, need a particular prescription drug and don’t have much in the way of money laying around.

One of the tricks with these programs has always been to find them, then figure out to try to access them. Medicare.gov has now added a new page to its website that sorts these programs alphabetically and includes info on program eligibility, benefits/assistance available and website and/or contact info.

Go to http://www.medicare.gov/pharmaceutical-assistance-program/index.aspx and have a look. NOTE: You don’t have to be on Medicare to look at the Medicare website.

How about a “that:”

I’m sorry to report that the Bad Guys haven’t gone away – they’ve just been evolving from one form of slime into another, and it’s another phone scam. A person claiming to be a “jury duty coordinator” (or something like that) calls and says that he or she needs to verify that the person had received a jury duty summons, because a warrant has been issued for their arrest. Get your attention?

When the person, predictably, states that they’ve never received said jury duty summons, the caller asks for their Social Security number and date of birth to verify their information and cancel the warrant. BOOM! You’ve been had.

And here’s another “this” that looks a lot like the last “that:”

A Medicare client (there are a lot of us) gets a call from someone claiming to be with the “WalMart Promotion Center,” delivering the happy news that you, Medicare client, have just won a $1,000 gift card! All you need to do is confirm name, email address and phone number.

The caller then tells the person that they are currently out of gift cards (right) BUT, with a bank account number, they’ll just deposit the $1,000 in their account today. How generous.

Or the generous caller will give the person the option of entering their bank account info on the “WalMart Promotional” website; either way, you’ve just been had, and you will spend a lot of your future trying to clean up the mess. Just say, “No!” or feel free to substitute a Harveyesque expletive.

Are you up for one more “this?” Or “that?” I lost track, but it doesn’t matter – It’s Sunday, for crying-out-loud! Listen:

Maybe you, or one of your kids or someone you like has been trying to get around to reading that booklet on Social Security since … well, a long time; shockingly, you never seem to quite get around to it. I know. I get it. Try this:

What if you could listen to an audio version? Seriously! You can. Social Security has more than a hundred of their publications in audio format, in both English and Spanish. You can get at them by going to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/alt-pubs.html.

If that doesn’t work so well, you can always call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance.

By the way, you can also get these publications in Braille, enlarged print and even cassette or CD. If you are visually impaired and have trouble reading a notice from Social Security, you can call Social Security and ask them to read it to you – seriously! – they’ll even explain it to you! And you can call as often as necessary to get the info you need. They will not take your name and put it on the “We Hate this WACKO” list.

Now, true, you might have to wait on the phone for the help, but once you get it, you should be treated well – I always have been.

Enough? Sure. Go enjoy May, and if someone tries to shame you into doing something productive, just tell them that Harvey said that you’ve been “on task” for long enough already.

Mark Harvey is the director of Senior Information and Assistance for Olympic Area on Aging. He can be reached at harvemb@dshs.wa.gov or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.