Courtesy: gisuser-Flickr

Nearly 400,000 people in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida received their Social Security checks early (last Friday and Saturday) so that Gulf state beneficiaries could receive help before Gustav hit the coast.  Just as during Katrina, Social Security has once again proven to be an effective and efficient responder during times of crisis.  Commissioner Mike Astrue said:

"Delivering these checks early to residents from Texas to Florida eliminates one concern people might have as they prepare for the storm. As beneficiaries take steps to ensure their own safety, this is one step we can take to help them in a difficult time. In the future, beneficiaries should be mindful that Direct Deposit is a more secure and convenient way to receive payments, particularly when natural disasters strike."
Social Security worked closely with the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of the Treasury to make the early delivery of checks possible. People living in areas with the following first three digits in their zip codes received early delivery:  Alabama 364-366 Florida 323-325 Louisiana 700-708 Mississippi 393-395 Texas 770-779 and 783-785  The Health and Human Services Department has also declared a public health emergency to ensure that individuals, including those enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), in Gulf Coast states receive their health care.  For Medicare beneficiaries that means rules preventing early refills for Medicare Part D beneficiaries are waived.  CMS says this should help seniors who left their prescriptions in evacuated homes or lost their prescriptions when they had to leave their homes. Beneficiaries in Medicare health plans will also be able to go out of network during this emergency. CMS says it's working with the health insurance industry to ensure there are no barriers to this service for those enrolled in these plans.  Some rules in Critical Access Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Hospitals and Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities will also be waived.   HHS also has a Hurricane assistance page for Gulf Coast residents.