If you're not yet enrolled in Medicare D, the new optional prescription drug program, here's what you need to know to join.

DEADLINES: You have until May 15 to sign up without penalties. After May 15, you may have to pay higher premiums. Your coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you enroll.

HOW TO ENROLL: You can do so online at Medicare's Web page, www .medicare.gov. Or call (800) 633-4227.

HOW TO GET HELP: Many county and state agencies are helping Medicare recipients -- especially those without access to a computer or the Internet -- figure out their coverage needs.


Statewide, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program at 733-0111 or (800) 443-9354.

* In Wake County, Resources for Seniors at 872-7933.

* In Durham County, Council for Senior Citizens at 688-8247, or Senior PHARMAssist at 688-4772.

* In Orange County, the county Department on Aging at 968-2087.


* The Rex Senior Health Center, 512 E. Davie St., Raleigh, has representative from the state Office of Minority Health on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays; open to the public. Call 832-2400.

* Representatives of Senior PHARMAssist will discuss the benefit at 3 p.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St. Durham; and at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2018 Riddle Road. Call 688-5638 for reservations for the AME event.

* Duke University Health System employees will discuss the plan from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at Teer House, 4019 N. Roxboro Road in Durham. To register, call 416-3853.