You have Medicare questions, we have answers.
When someone turns 65 or is about to retire, choosing the right Medicare health plan is a difficult and overwhelming task. At Seniority, we always say the first person to know you have turned 64 is your mailman, because that is when the massive amounts of promotional materials begin arriving.
That’s where we come in. Seniority is a local resource to help guide Medicare beneficiaries through the process from start to finish. We have a team of experienced Benefit Advisors and Customer Service Members that will help guide you when you first enroll and throughout your time in Medicare. And as always, our services are at no cost to you.
Everyone is eligible for Medicare at age 65, regardless of whether you have started receiving your Social Security Income (SSI) payments. Depending on your specific circumstance, there are several different options for those turning 65.
I Need to Enroll in Medicare
If you have begun receiving SSI at least 4 months prior to turning 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B and will receive your Medicare Red White and Blue card in the mail about three months prior to your 65th birthday. If you do not want to enroll in Part B, you must decline that coverage by following the instructions included with your Medicare card.
If you have not begun receiving SSI and want to enroll in Medicare at age 65, there is a 7-month window in which you can enroll in Medicare. Three months before, the month of, and three months following your 65th birthday. At Seniority, we strongly recommend you take advantage of the three months prior to your 65th birthday to enroll.
There are several ways you can apply for Medicare Parts A & B:
- We have found that this is typically the fastest and easiest way to apply for Medicare. In addition to being able to apply for Medicare, you will then have an online account that allows you to view all your related documents.
- In person at a local Social Security office
- If you prefer to apply in person, you can do so at your local Social Security office.
- The recommendation is to make an appointment; however, these appointments can book out up to several months.
- Over the phone
- Applying over the phone is an option, however we have found this to be the least efficient method as there are documents that then must be mailed back and forth. This can delay receipt of your Red White & Blue card which will prevent you from enrolling in any additional coverage.
I’m Continuing to Work After 65
Many people choose to continue working after the age of 65, and choose to remain on their employer health plan. If your employer has more than 20 employees, you can remain on their health plan with no penalty. If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you must enroll in Medicare as your primary insurer.
At Seniority, we recommend enrolling in Medicare Part A once you reach the age of 65, as it makes the enrollment process when you reach retirement much easier. However, if your employer health plan has a Health Savings Account (HSA) – do not enroll in Medicare Part A if you are planning on continuing to contribute to your HSA. To avoid any tax penalties, when you do go to enroll in Medicare you will need to stop contributing to your HSA six months prior to your application. The money remaining in your HSA will always be yours to spend on qualified medical expenses.
It is also important to note that COBRA coverage is not considered creditable by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). If you are covered under a COBRA plan from an employer, you must enroll in Medicare at age 65.
I’m Retiring After the Age of 65
If you have remained on an employer health plan after the age of 65, and are getting ready to retire, we recommend starting the process of enrolling in Medicare about three months prior to your retirement date. The application process is a little different when applying for Medicare after age of 65.
- If your employer health plan has an HSA, to avoid any tax penalties you will need to stop contributing to your HSA six months prior to your application. The money remaining in your HSA will always be yours to spend on qualified medical expenses.
- You will need to have your company’s Human Resource department complete a CMS Request for Employment Information Form to provide proof to CMS that you did have creditable coverage through your employer since you turned 65.
- You will then need to return this form with the Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B to your local Social Security office either by fax, mail, or in person.
I’ve Enrolled in Medicare, What Now?
Once you have enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B, your Seniority Benefit Advisor will assist you in determining your next steps. Whether it is a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement and Prescription Drug Plan, your advisor will help you determine the best course of action based on your specific needs.