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Should You Apply for Medicare Even Though You're Still Working? ^ | July 28, 2013 | Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

Posted on 07/28/2013 9:14:44 AM PDT by Kaslin

Dear Carrie, I'm turning 65 next year and plan to work for a couple more years. Should I apply for Medicare even though I have coverage through my employer? --A Reader

Dear Reader, This is an important question that affects a growing number of workers. In fact, data from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study (2006 to 2010) sponsored by the National Institute on Aging shows some eye-popping trends. According to the study, 79.5 percent of respondents expect to work past age 65, with 65.2 percent expecting to retire by age 80 -- and 22.4 percent planning never to retire at all!

Your question is doubly important because, while enrollment in Medicare is automatic if you've already filed for Social Security, if you're still working and not receiving Social Security, enrollment is in your hands. And it's not just a question of whether or not you need Medicare coverage right now. You must apply for Medicare within a certain time window to avoid getting hit with a penalty for late enrollment.

Know your options and timing

Even if you're not receiving Social Security benefits at age 65, you're still eligible for full Medicare benefits. This includes the premium-free Part A (hospitalization), as well as Part B (doctors visits and outpatient care) and Part D (prescription drugs), for each of which you pay a premium. But it's up to you to contact Social Security to sign up, and you must do this within what's called your Initial Enrollment Period. Generally, this period extends from three months before the month you turn 65 until three months after the month you turn 65 -- a seven-month period in total. If you want your Medicare benefits to start right when you turn 65, you have to sign up during the three months before your birthday.

If you miss this Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait until what's called the General Enrollment Period, which runs from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year. There are a couple of drawbacks to waiting. First, your benefits won't start until July 1 of the year in which you enroll. And second, you may have to pay a penalty.

Apply at least for Medicare Part A

The good news is that, in a situation such as yours, you don't have to enroll in all parts at once. If you have insurance coverage through an employer plan, you can apply for the premium-free Part A only and still meet the enrollment deadline. Part A might help pay for some of the costs not covered by your group plan. And as long as you have group coverage, you won't be penalized for delaying Part B; you can choose to enroll at any time while you're still covered by that plan. When your employment or group coverage ends, you then have eight months in which to sign up.

Consider whether you need Part B

Whether to enroll in Medicare Part B is a cost/value decision. Monthly premiums range from $99.90 to $319.70, depending on your income and filing status. So your decision to enroll in Part B while you're still working might depend on how much money you're making.

You also need to consider what you're getting. If you work for a company with 20 or more employees, your group health plan is still the primary payer of your medical bills, making your Medicare benefits of limited value.

However, if your company has fewer than 20 employees, Medicare would be the primary payer and your company plan the secondary payer. In this case, it's best to talk to your employee benefits administrator. The Part B coverage may well be worth the monthly premium.

What if you want to drop Part B?

It's not unheard of for insurance needs to change as people move in and out of the work force. So what happens if you retire, enroll in Part B and then find yourself back at work with employer coverage once again? In this situation, you can drop Part B while working and reenroll at any time while you have group coverage or during the eight months after your employment ends without risk of penalty or higher premiums.

Stay on top of the dates

For now, I'd mark the dates of your Initial Enrollment Period on your calendar. Then when the time comes, call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to sign up. You can also go to for more detailed information. No matter how long you choose to work, there's no reason not to take advantage of the benefits you've earned.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: carrieschwab; government; medicare; parta; partb; personalfinance; retirement; socialsecurity; ss

1 posted on 07/28/2013 9:14:44 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Most employers will kick you off your plan as soon as you reach 65.

2 posted on 07/28/2013 9:16:19 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Kaslin

What if you don’t want any of this crap. Can you get a refund?

3 posted on 07/28/2013 9:36:45 AM PDT by DaxtonBrown (
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To: DaxtonBrown

No. Just bend over......

4 posted on 07/28/2013 9:38:49 AM PDT by Lakeshark (KILL THE BILL! CALL. FAX. WRITE)
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To: Kaslin
I am a Financial Planner specializing in the Medicare and Retirement markets.
The answer to the question is:
“It depends”
On the size of the employer.
On the rules in the employer plan.
On the price of the employer plan.
However, if you choose to go “T” -— the designation on your Medicare card for those who opt not to take Social Security but opt into Part “B”? -— Well make sure you never miss a payment, or never go late. Medicare is unforgiving. Medicare will boot you out of “B” and then make you wait until 1 July of the following year to get it back, and then charge you a 10% penalty for the rest of your life!
(If you are still working, and below the “retirement age” or “full benefit” age, figuring out if you should take Social Security or not is a no-brainer. DON'T as the “claw back” on the benefit itself is high, if you have “earned income” and then you get taxed on the benefit anyway, after you take it.)
5 posted on 07/28/2013 9:43:49 AM PDT by Kansas58
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To: Mamzelle
Most employers will kick you off your plan as soon as you reach 65.

I am retired Air Force, and got kicked off when I turned 65. I had no say in the matter, even though I am still working.

6 posted on 07/28/2013 9:50:12 AM PDT by Mark17
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To: Kaslin

If you can continue a private plan insurance, you have another factor to consider. Does your doctor take Medicare patients? Do you have health needs that require specialists who either take no insurance or only private plan insurance?

7 posted on 07/28/2013 10:45:37 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: DaxtonBrown

There is an existing lawsuit fighting over the legal mandate to enroll in Medicare upon age 65; the rulings so far are that you have to sign up for Medicare when you take Social Security or you can opt not to use either, but there is not either/or of SS but no Medicare or Medicare but no SS.

Medicare Lawsuit Update

8 posted on 07/28/2013 10:58:14 AM PDT by tbw2
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To: Kaslin

It was my understanding that I had to enroll in part A at 65 although still working. I started Social Security and Part B when I turned 67 and continued to work. The following April Uncle Sam wanted a big bite of those SS payments as they become taxable while working. My employer no longer carries any coverage for me but reimburses me for the supplement. All things considered, I came out ahead although those extra big quarterly payments to IRS are painful.

9 posted on 07/28/2013 11:09:28 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: Kaslin
I am an independent insurance specializing in Medicare plans.

Bottom Line when you turn 65:
You are entitled to Medicare A (Hospitalization) if you worked for 10 years or 40 quarters where money was deducted from your paycheck and paid to the US treasury for you.

You do not have to enroll in Medicare B if you have group insurance that is as good as or better than Medicare B benefits. By not joining until you lose your group insurance benefits, you save the monthly premium of $104.90 (minimum).

One may be penalized if one does not have a prescription drug plan as good as or better than Medicare Part D if they do not enroll in a Part D plan when first entitled to Medicare A or enrolled in Medicare B and wants to enroll in a Medicare Part D Drug plan at a later date. The penalty for enrolling at a later date is 1% times the monthly national average for a stand alone Part D Plan. If valid, this amount is taken out of one’s Social Security benefits every month they are subsequently enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

10 posted on 07/28/2013 11:58:48 AM PDT by Tucson Jim
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To: Kansas58
I'm on Medicare part A. I don't have parts B or D, as I don't use pharmceuticals and one doctor's visit a year is about it for me. Why is there an assumption that "B" and "D" are good for everyone? They seem pretty expensive.

I am putting what would've been my monthly payments aside in case I need them for futrue medical care.

11 posted on 07/28/2013 12:07:18 PM PDT by grania
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To: Mark17

Same here. I am a retired Marine and it was a problem finding a doc who would now take medicare in our was existing pts only or not taking new I go to a concierge doc, former Navy doc...membership is 2500.00 for me ( other plans for families) and it is great..I get a superbill and send it to TFL. Best of all, she calls back, I can get in anytime ( she takes only 200 pts) and has several military retirees..
Also if you do take medicare out later than at age 65 you get fined and if you are drawing social security you are paying for part B anyway.

12 posted on 07/28/2013 12:21:16 PM PDT by celtic gal
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To: grania; All
Obviously, you do not understand the financial risks that you are taking.
Forgive me for being blunt, but quite frankly that is MY JOB! What you are doing is foolish and reckless.
Often, a terminally ill client, or a client with serious, chronic illnesses will spend FAR more on Part B and Part D services, than they ever will in a Hospital (Part A) or Skilled Nursing Center (Part A).
I have clients who's “Discounted Retail Cost” for Prescription Drugs (Part D) are WELL over $60,000 per year.
I have clients with MS who have motorized wheel chairs that cost $20,000.00, and this would be a “Part B” charge for DME or Durable Medical Equipment.
Medicinal Oxygen can easily be $1000 per month, if needed for home health care. This would ordinarily be another “Part B” charge.
Cancer patients often run far higher medical bills, for Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment, done on an OUT PATIENT “Part B” basis, than they ever cost on “Part A” Hospital services.
Kidney Dialysis would, quite frankly BANKRUPT YOU with Part “B” charges, unless you are quite wealth, if YOU are not covered by Part “B”.
Your cost, for covered Part B charges are 20% after you meet the Annual Deductible of $140 per year. In your case, since you “opted out” of Part “B” you could EASILY pay bills in excess of $20,000.00 or more for cancer treatments.

Let me ask you, do you still pay homeowners insurance even though your mortgage might be paid off?
How many fires have you had?
Do you get my point? YOU WILL BE SICKER IN 5 YEARS than you are today, unless of course you are dead by then. You are planning the future based on your past.
That is a VERY stupid thing to do. Your past is NOT a crystal ball into your future, not at all!

13 posted on 07/28/2013 6:06:07 PM PDT by Kansas58
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To: tbw2; All

You are wrong.
I have MANY clients who do not draw Social Security yet ARE on Medicare Part A AND Medicare Part B.
Likewise, I have a client who did not take Medicare Part B until he was over 80 years old, as he continued to work until then, but he DID draw Social Security for many years before he took out Medicare Part B.
Please do not post nonsense, this is serious business.
I do this for a living and you should not advise people

14 posted on 07/28/2013 6:09:41 PM PDT by Kansas58
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To: Kansas58

FWIW, my past experience with doctors and medical treatments has caused me to decide to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can.

15 posted on 07/28/2013 7:04:07 PM PDT by grania
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To: Kansas58

Thanks for the cautionary information.

I just hit my initial enrollment period, retired but I won’t be taking SS benefits until 67.

I think I need more information from my HR dept on my secondary insurance before I actually do the Medicare application.

16 posted on 07/28/2013 8:54:40 PM PDT by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: Kaslin

We were notified by our insurance companies that on our 65th birthday our insurance would be canceled.

we’ve both been on medicare for over 10 years and still work.

17 posted on 07/28/2013 9:15:32 PM PDT by dalereed
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