Assemblyman Fitzpatrick Senior
from Assemblyman
Michael J. Fitzpatrick
Summer 2005

A Personal Message from
Michael J. Fitzpatrick
nys seal

Dear Friend:

As a way of providing senior citizens with helpful information on a variety of issues, I have compiled this informational newsletter that summarizes important state programs and lists toll-free telephone numbers and Web site addresses for additional follow-up action.

I’ve selected topics ranging from health care to financial relief to consumer protection. These issues are based on the inquiries I commonly receive from constituents through mail, telephone calls and office visits.

If you have specific questions about the range of programs and services to help older New Yorkers, you can call the toll-free hot line of the New York state Office for the Aging at (800) 342-9871 or contact the Suffolk County Office for the Aging at (631) 853-8200.

As always, my staff and I are ready to help if you would like additional information, or if you need assistance with a state agency.

Michael J. Fitzpatrick

For Your Health...
Save Money with EPIC

To help senior citizens pay for their prescription drugs, New York state established the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program that, since its inception, has helped over 340,000 enrolled members save, on average, over 80 percent of the cost of their medicines.

Eligibility requirements:
  • State resident 65 years of age and older
  • Annual income of less than $35,000 if single, or $50,000 if married
  • Cannot be receiving full Medicaid benefits or have other prescription drug coverage plans.
Fee plan:
  • Available to seniors in lower-income levelss
  • Enrollees pay a quarterly fee up to $75 per person if married or $57.50 per person if single, based on income.
Deductible plan:
  • Available to seniors in higher-income brackets
  • Enrollees pay the full cost of their prescriptions until they reach an annual deductible, ranging from $530 to $1,715 per year, per person, based on income
  • Once the deductible is reached, enrollees pay only a co-payment based on the prescription for the remainder of the coverage year.

For an application form or more program information, call EPIC’s toll-free hot line at (800) 332-3742, visit, or inquire at your local pharmacy, doctor’s office or office for the aging.

Medicare’s New Benefits

For 2005

New preventive services to be covered:

  • A one-time, "Welcome to Medicare" wellness physical exam within 6 months of Medicare Part B enrollment
  • Blood test screenings for early detection of cardiovascular (heart) diseases
  • Diabetes screenings for individuals at risk of developing diabetes.

These benefits add to the preventive services already covered by Medicare, such as cancer screenings, bone mass measurements and vaccinations.

In 2006

Prescription drug plans will be available to Medicare recipients, while insurance companies and other private groups will work with Medicare to offer drug plans and negotiate drug price discounts.

Medicare prescription drug plans will resemble other insurance plans by providing insurance coverage for prescription drugs. By joining a Medicare plan, recipients will pay a monthly premium of about $35 and a share of their prescription costs. Prices will vary depending on the plan chosen.

Prescription drugs to be covered may vary according to the drug plan chosen, the amount recipients must pay and the pharmacies they patronize. When joining a drug plan, it’s important to choose one that meets the individual’s prescription drug needs.

The drug plan coverage takes effect the first day of the month following the month the recipient joined.

Medicare recipients should consider joining a plan in 2006 regardless of the amount of prescription drugs they now use. Individuals who don’t register with a plan by May 15, 2006, and don’t have a plan that covers as much or more than a Medicare prescription drug plan, will have to pay more each month to join.

More information about Medicare prescription drug plans is available by calling toll-free (800) MEDICARE (633-4227) or by visiting the Web site

Health Care Proxy Makes Good Sense

New York state’s Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint a competent adult to make decisions about your medical treatment in the event you can’t decide for yourself - including decisions to remove or provide life-sustaining treatment.

You can designate a trusted family member or friend as your health care agent, who will have as little or as much authority as you want over decisions about your treatment if you are unable to make such decisions. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own.

Health care proxy forms are available by calling the state Office for the Aging toll-free hot line at (800) 342-9871.

School Tax Relief for Homeowners

More than 3 million homeowners across New York state are saving in excess of $2 billion each year as a result of the School Tax Relief (STAR) Program established in 1997 by the state Legislature and Gov. George Pataki.

There are two forms of STAR:

Basic STAR
  • Available to all residents who own and live in their one-, two- or three-family homes

  • Exempts the first $30,000 of the home’s full assessed value from school property taxes.

Enhanced STAR
  • Available for the primary residence of senior citizens age 65 and older with adjusted gross yearly incomes not exceeding the statewide ceiling ($64,650 for fiscal year 2005-06) based on their 2003 income tax returns

  • Exempts the first $50,000 of the home’s full assessed value from school property taxes.

For more information on the STAR Program, contact your local assessor’s office, call the New York state Office of Real Property Services toll-free at (888) 697-8275, or visit the agency’s Web site at

Unclaimed Funds Could be Yours

What kind of funds can be considered unclaimed?

  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Insurance benefits/policies
  • Safe deposit box contents
  • Mortgage insurance refunds and estate proceeds
  • Stocks, dividends and mutual funds
  • Certificates of deposit.

The Office of the State Comptroller may be holding your money. If you believe the state is holding funds belonging to you, visit the agency’s Web site at to perform an online search. To receive the funds, without charge, individuals need only provide proof of ownership.

You can also call toll-free (800) 221-9311, or write to the Office of Unclaimed Funds, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.

Don’t Drive? Get a Non-driver Photo ID

If you live in New York state but are not licensed to drive a motor vehicle, you may qualify for a non-driver photo identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Residents 62 years of age and older can receive a 10-year ID card at a reduced fee of $6.50. Applicants are required to complete form MV-44, "Application for Driver License or ID Card."

Application forms are available at your local motor vehicles office, or by phoning the DMV Call Center’s toll-free number at (800) DIAL-DMV (342-5368).


The story is all too familiar: the unsuspecting homeowner pays a con man for home-improvement work that never gets done, or the trusting individual provides a credit card number to a telephone scam artist. While anyone can be a victim of fraud, senior citizens are especially vulnerable. However, there are steps you can take to safeguard against being scammed.

  • Protect your privacy. Never give out personal information over the telephone, especially Social Security numbers. Do not disclose financial information to anyone outside of a trusted circle of family and a reputable financial advisor.

  • Always ask for identification. Never let strangers into your home, and always check identification of anyone from a service company you have contacted before allowing that person into your home. Report suspicious solicitations to the police.

  • Limit the amount of cash on hand or at home. Do not allow a stranger to take you to your bank to withdraw money for a service being offered.

  • Scrutinize financial papers carefully. Review personal financial statements such as credit cards, bank accounts and stock reports. Double-check sales receipts to make sure you were not charged twice or didn’t pay too much for an item. Sign contracts only after proper deliberation.

For more information on how to protect yourself from scam artists, call the toll-free number of the New York State Consumer Protection Board at (800) 697-1220, or visit the agency’s Web site at

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a criminal steals personal information or items, such as a credit card, Social Security or driver license number, ATM personal identification number (PIN), or telephone calling card, and uses the data to assume another person’s identity.

Types of Identity Theft
  • Taking mail delivered to the home or business by the U.S. Postal Service

  • Submitting a change of address form at the post office to divert a person’s mail to a new location

  • "Dumpster diving" - someone rummaging through personal or business trash to obtain private information

  • Using personal information shared on the Internet

  • Someone posing as a landlord, employer or other official obtains an individual’s credit report.

Methods of Protection
  • Avoid carrying extra credit cards, Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport in wallet or purse, except when needed

  • Never write down or keep a PIN on or near an ATM or credit card

  • Individuals should have their names removed from marketing lists of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union)

  • Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail and Telephone Preference Service by visiting

  • Install a locked mailbox at home or business

  • Keep a list or photocopy of all credit cards, their account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers of the issuing agencies’ customer service or fraud departments in case the cards are stolen.

Identity Theft Victims Should:
  1. Immediately contact the fraud departments at the three major credit bureaus (telephone numbers can be found on the phone card below) and request that a "fraud alert" be placed on the individual file, along with a victim’s statement asking creditors to call before opening new or changing existing accounts. Order copies of the credit report.

  2. Quickly contact creditors for information about any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently, including credit cards, phone companies, utilities, banks and other lenders. Speak with someone in the security or fraud department, then send a follow-up letter because consumer protection laws generally require written proof.

  3. File a report with the police where the identity theft occurred. Obtain a copy of the police report in case the credit card company or bank needs proof of the crime. Filing a police report can help when dealing with creditors.

  4. Take the appropriate steps to ensure that mail, personal information and other data are protected, accounted for and safe.

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Important Telephone Numbers and Web Sites
Assemblyman Fitzpatrick Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick •
7th Assembly District
50 Route 111, Suite 202, Smithtown, NY 11787 • (631) 724-2929
544 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-5021

Veterans - (888) VETSNYS (838-7697) - Information about state and federal veterans benefits, telephone numbers for assistance from county agencies.

EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage) - (800) 332-3742 - Information about the state prescription drug program for senior citizens, and assistance in obtaining and completing forms.

Banking - (877) 226-5697 - For consumer complaints and information about state financial institutions, such as savings and commercial banks, and credit unions.

Tourist Information - (800) 225-5697 - For travel information in New York, "I Love NY" tour packages, travel and ski guides.

Consumer Protection - (800) 697-1220 - Information on protection from scam artists or filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Board.

Senior Citizens - (800) 34-9871 - Assistance from state Office for the Aging.

Taxpayer Assistance - (800) CALL TAX (225-5829) - Help for taxpayers about state taxes, including information on goods subject to sales tax.

Insurance - (800) 342-3736 - Help from state Insurance Department on all types of insurance matters.

Office for the Aging - (800) 342-9871 - Obtain a health care proxy form.

Office of Real Property Services - (888) 697-8275 - Information about the School Tax Relief (STAR) Program.

Department of Motor Vehicles Call Center - (800) 342-5368 - How to obtain a non-driver identification card.

State Comptroller - (800) 221-9311 - Claim inactive or abandoned funds.

Do Not Call Registry - (888) 382-1222 - Reduce telemarketing and other unwanted calls.

Credit Bureaus:
    Equifax: (800) 525-6285
    Experian: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    Trans Union: (800) 680-7289

District Office:
50 Route 111 • Suite 202 • Smithtown, NY 11787 • (631) 724-2929

Albany Office:
544 Legislative Office Building • Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-5021