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(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley to help low-income senior citizens maintain vital prescription drug assistance was signed into law on Monday.

The law (A-137) provides for automatic enrollment in either the Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program or the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program if a person becomes ineligible for one but remains eligible for the other.

Both are state-funded programs operated by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

“The ongoing global economic recession has brought tough times for many, but especially for those on fixed incomes such as our senior citizens,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “We need to do everything we can to ensure seniors have the prescription drugs they need to live quality lives, and this is a step in that direction.”

“This assistance is vital to many of our senior citizens who are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times,” said Riley (D-Cumberland). “This is a simple move that would allow many seniors to automatically retain the medication so valuable to living healthy lives.”

Under the law, if a person who receives PAAD benefits becomes ineligible because their income exceeds the income eligibility limit, and the person still remains eligible for Senior Gold, they will be enrolled automatically in Senior Gold.

Income eligibility limits for Senior Gold are up to $10,000 greater than those of PAAD.

Similarly, if a person who receives Senior Gold benefits has a decrease in income that renders the person eligible for PAAD, the person will be enrolled automatically in PAAD.

PAAD serves New Jersey residents 65 years of age or older — or 18 years of age or older and receiving Social Security Title II Disability benefits — who have annual income for 2009 of less than $24,432 if single or less than $29,956 if married.

Senior Gold has the same residency and age requirements, but different co-payments and income eligibility guidelines than those of PAAD.

Senior Gold recipients must have annual income of between $24,432 and $34,432 if you are single or between $29,956 and $39,956 if you are married.

For more information on either program call toll free 1-800-792-9745.

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