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John Legal
John Legal, Attorney
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Experience:  Over 15 years legal experience.
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I have a question regarding Social Security Extra Help and

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I have a question regarding Social Security Extra Help and pension income. My 61 year old mother is on Social Security Disability and Extra Help getting 75% of her medications covered. She is on several medications and even with Extra Help, her monthly drug copays are still very expensive for her. In a divorce settlement, she will be eligible for part of her ex-husband's pension. He is going to take his pension in the next 3 months and he warns her that she has to do the same, stating not taking it would be "withholding income for the purposes of qualifying for Extra Help." The pension board has already told us she does not need to take it until she is 65, and will face no penalty even though he is electing to take his. Is it true that because she is on Extra Help, she needs to take that pension and not doing that would be "withholding income?" If that is the case, his additional income would kick her out of Extra Help making her monthly drug costs so expensive it would only leave her with $300/mo to live on. My sister and I are already planning for the financial impact her turning 65 would have. But do we need to be worried that she needs to take this now?

Welcome! Thank you for your question. I am happy to answer you but need a bit more information.


Is this asset that is being divided as part of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?


Also, please let me know, when you say "pension" you mean a monthly income benefit only. This is not a 401K or anything that would allow her to take a lump sum, correct?



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That is correct, this is part of a QDRO. She has the option to take 10% as a lump sum, and then receive reduced monthly payments, or just receive payments with no lump sum. This pension is from a carpenter's Union pension, not a 401K


Thank you

She is NOT required to demand it in 3 months. The extra help program will consider the pension as part of her income when she is required to begin drawing it at age 65. If she waits to begin drawing it at age 65 then the income distributions from the pension will be included in her income for purposes of determining her eligibility for extra help benefits at that time.


To qualify for Extra Help, your annual income must be limited to $16,755 for an individual.



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