The majority of seniors opt into Social Security benefits as early as possible at the age of 62, rather than waiting until the current full retirement age of 66. There are various reasons that seniors choose to get their benefits early but because it is considered “early retirement”, monthly payments are reduced by about 25%. One of the advantages of receiving your Social Security benefits by the age of 65 is that you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare (Part A and Part B), with coverage starting the month you turn 65. Seniors receiving Social Security benefits should receive a “Welcome to Medicare” package in the mail explaining that they have been enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. A Medicare card then arrives in the mail three months before the individual turns 65.
If you are not receiving Social Security benefits at the age of 65, you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare. If you are nearing 65 and have not yet claimed your Social Security benefits, it’s time to start thinking about signing up for Medicare. There are many decisions you will need to make and it’s important that you follow Medicare enrollment periods.
What Seniors Need to Know About Signing Up for Medicare Before Claiming Social Security
There are several things to know about signing up for Medicare before claiming Social Security:
1. Social Security and Medicare are both programs run by the federal government but by different agencies, though the Social Security Administration does determine Medicare eligibility.
2. There is no obligation to sign up for both programs at the same time.
3. You can enroll in Medicare before or after claiming Social Security, and each program has its own set of eligibility criteria.
4. Unlike Social Security, Medicare benefits always begin at the age of 65 except for those who qualify early because of certain disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease.
5. You will need to use your initial enrollment period to sign up for Medicare to avoid late enrollment penalties.
6. If you miss your initial enrollment period, you can sign up during the open enrollment period each year between January 1 and March 31. Your coverage would generally start on July 1 of the same year but you will most likely be assessed a late enrollment penalty.
7. You can delay signing up for Medicare if you are still working and have group health benefits when you turn 65. Once you retire or your group benefits end, your initial enrollment period will begin.
8. When you sign up for Medicare without Social Security benefits, you will pay your Part B Medicare premiums through a monthly bill. (Part B Medicare premiums are automatically deducted from Social Security checks for seniors who are receiving Social Security benefits).
Whether you will be automatically signed up for Medicare because you are already receiving Social Security benefits or you won’t because you haven’t claimed them, you should not wait until you turn 65 to start researching your Medicare options. It’s not too early to start looking into Medicare two to three years before you turn 65. You will need to decide whether to stick with Original Medicare plus Part D with or without supplemental insurance or whether to receive your benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan. Our Medicare insurance agents specialize in helping seniors transition from employer coverage to Medicare coverage; we are here to answer all your questions and help you find the right plan for your needs.
Our independent insurance agents are dedicated to assisting people on Medicare and those who are ready to transition from employer coverage to personal retirement coverage. We help kupuna understand their benefits options and apply for additional coverage, as needed. Because we represent all the major Medicare Advantage and supplement plans in Hawaii, we are able to offer unbiased advice; all at no cost to our clients.
At PBC, our clients are our number one priority and we look forward to getting to know you and your needs. Call us today at (808) 738-4500 to see how we may be of assistance.