Key Takeaways

  • Each spring, the Social Security Administration mails letters to Medicare beneficiaries who may be eligible for, but are not enrolled in, key Medicare subsidies.

  • Our visualization tool maps how many letters are sent to each zip code, so counselors can better target outreach in those areas.

Each May, the Social Security Administration (SSA) mails letters to people enrolled in Medicare who are likely eligible for but not receiving the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), also known as Extra Help, and the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). There are two variations of these letters (View samples in English and Spanish at SSA's website):

  • Form SSA-L447 is sent to individuals whose countable income appears to be less than 135% of poverty, and the beneficiary has Extra Help but does not have MSP.
  • Form SSA-L448 is sent to beneficiaries whose countable income appears to qualify them for Extra Help and MSP, but the beneficiary has neither.

Note: A third letter, Form SSA-L441, is sent to former Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries who lost their free Medicare Part A because of work and do not have Medicaid according to SSA records. We do not have data on these mailings, and thus it is not included in the visualization below. SSA has released the number of letters that will be mailed to each zip code in the United States in May-June 2020 in order to help community-based organizations and state and local agencies more effectively target outreach on these vital benefits programs.

Note: While these data help identify those likely eligible for these two programs based on their Social Security benefit, remember that Medicare beneficiaries may have additional sources of income or assets above the amounts allowed for the programs, and not all letter recipients may be eligible to enroll. 

Using the visualization tool

Click on the image below to open the map or visit the tool using this link (may take a moment to load due to data volume). Zoom into and hover over an area to get a closer look by zip code.

Screenshot of Tableau visualization of Social Security letters

Both a map view and table view are available through this visualization. You can download this data (from 2017 to present) from the SSA website.

To download the data from the visualization tool itself, click on the Table tab at the top of the tool. Select the data you would like to download (for example, by clicking on the state name or a block of zip codes), and then click the down arrow button at the bottom of the visualization. Double-click to select the data download option. (Note: This works a little better with a Google Chrome rather than Microsoft Explorer browser. Pop-ups need to be allowed on the page as well, because after you double click that you want the data downloaded, the screen appears in a pop-up box.) Click download all rows as a text file. Having trouble obtaining the data you need? Email us for assistance.