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Saturday, April 28, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Social Security: Medical equipment paid for by Medicare Part B

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Q. What medical supplies and equipment does Medicare Part B cover?

A. Medicare Part B helps pay for durable medical equipment such as oxygen equipment, wheelchairs and other medically necessary equipment that your doctor prescribes for use in your home. Other items covered by Medicare include:

• Arm, leg, back and neck braces.

• Medical supplies such as ostomy bags, surgical dressings, splints and casts.

• Breast prostheses following a mastectomy.

• One pair of eyeglasses with an intraocular lens after cataract surgery.

Medicare pays for different kinds of durable medical equipment in different ways. Some equipment must be rented; other equipment must be purchased. Your Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier can provide more specific information.

Q. My mother is unable to handle her benefits. What should I do?

A. You should call our toll-free number, 800-772-1213, as soon as possible and request an appointment with your local Social Security office to discuss appointing a "representative payee" for your mother.

A payee, subject to Social Security's review, is authorized and directed to apply benefits certified on behalf of a beneficiary only for the use and benefit of the beneficiary.

Benefits should be used for current needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical-care and personal-comfort items, or reasonably foreseeable needs. If not needed for these purposes or, in title II only, for the support of the beneficiary's legally dependent spouse, child and/or parent, the benefits must be conserved or invested on behalf of the beneficiary.

For more information, check out our Web site at www.ssa.gov or call our toll-free number and ask for the publication, "A Guide for Representative Payees" (Pub. No. 05-10076).

Q. I think I may be eligible for Social Security benefits on my ex-husband's Social Security record. Can I get a Social Security statement showing benefits on his record?

A. For information about potential benefits on someone else's record, you should call or visit your local Social Security office. If your former spouse is still living, privacy rules prohibit us from giving you his statement. But we can tell you what benefits you may be entitled to, after we have established your relationship to him.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213.

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