There are several important bits of information about the New York State STAR Program and Medicare that I wanted to share with everyone as we head towards the end of the year.

Registration for the STAR Program runs through the end of this month and there are still many eligible residents in my District (88th) who have yet to register.

As of Dec. 3, the following percentages of eligible residents in their respective communities had yet to register:

Bronxville – 41 percent

New Rochelle – 31 percent

White Plains – 30 percent

Scarsdale – 29 percent

Pelham – 26 percent

Eastchester/Tuckahoe – 26 percent

There are two types of STAR exemptions. The Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners’ and their spouses income is less than $500,000. This program exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes.

The second exemption is the Enhanced STAR. This provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (65 and older) with qualifying incomes. It also exempts the first $64,200 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2014-15 school tax bills.

All of this information and more can be found at http://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/index.htm.

As for Medicare, whether you are about to enroll or are a current Medicare recipient, you can get help with your healthcare coverage questions at weekly Senior Benefits Information Centers in many local libraries. No appointment necessary.
Trained counselors are available to help you make the right decisions regarding your coverage:
• Medicare Part A (in-patient) and Part B (out-patient) costs and benefits,
• Part D prescription drug coverage,
• Medicare Advantage Plans, with or without drug coverage, and
• Medicare Savings Plans, Extra Help and EPIC for seniors with more limited incomes.
Some assistance is also available for those who are looking for other financial benefit programs, such as HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) and food stamps.

The most convenient SBIC centers for those in my district are:
Greenburgh Public Library, Mondays, 10 am – 1 pm
Will Library, Yonkers, Tuesdays, 10 am – pm; Thursdays, 11 am – 3 pm
New Rochelle Public Library, Fridays, 10 am – 1 pm

Or if you can’t visit the library in person, you can leave a message on the SBIC helpline at 914-231-3260 with your name and number, and whether your interest is in Medicare services or other benefits. A counselor will return your call within two business days. Alternatively, you can ask your question online at: http://www.westchesterlibraries.org/senior-benefits-information-centers/ask-a-counselor/.

A listing of all eight SBIC centers in Westchester libraries can be found at http://www.westchesterlibraries.org/senior-benefits-information-centers/. It includes information for clients in Spanish.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.

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