What to know if turn­ing 65 in 2017

Record Observer - - SENIOR SATELLITE - By MIKE ZIM­MER

For most peo­ple, turn­ing 65 means you’re el­i­gi­ble for Orig­i­nal Medi­care, Part A and Part B. This fed­eral pro­gram pro­vides hospi­tal in­sur­ance and some med­i­cal in­sur­ance to older Amer­i­cans and those un­der 65 with cer­tain dis­abil­i­ties.

At this time, you may also choose to en­roll in Medi­care Part C, also called Medi­care Ad­van­tage. These plans are avail­able from pri­vate in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and must of­fer the same ben­e­fits as Part A and Part B, but may add more cov­er­age such as vi­sion, den­tal, or pre­scrip­tion drug ben­e­fits. Or you could add a stand-alone Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug plan to your Orig­i­nal Medi­care to re­ceive pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age. Medi­care Sup­ple­ment in­sur­ance (called Medi­gap) is also avail­able to add to your Medi­care cov­er­age and help cover the “gaps” in Orig­i­nal Medi­care.

Au­to­mat­i­cally En­rolling in Orig­i­nal Medi­care If you are get­ting ben­e­fits from So­cial Se­cu­rity, you will au­to­mat­i­cally get Part A and Part B start­ing the first day of the month you turn 65. (If your birth­day is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.)

If you are un­der 65 and dis­abled, you’ll au­to­mat­i­cally get Part A and Part B after you get dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits from So­cial Se­cu­rity for 24 months.

If you have ALS (Amy­otrophic Lat­eral Scle­ro­sis, also called Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease), you’ll get Part A and Part B au­to­mat­i­cally the month your So­cial Se­cu­rity dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits be­gin.

If you are au­to­mat­i­cally en­rolled, you’ll get your red, white and blue card in the mail 3 months be­fore your 65th birth­day or 25th month of dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits. If you do noth­ing, you’ll keep Part B and will pay Part B pre­mi­ums. You can choose not to keep Part B, but you may have to wait to en­roll and pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B.

Man­u­ally en­rolling in Orig­i­nal Medi­care If you are not get­ting re­tire­ment ben­e­fits yet, you will need to sign up man­u­ally for Medi­care Part A and/or Part B through So­cial Se­cu­rity. • Visit the So­cial Se­cu­rity Web­site (https:// www.so­cialse­cu­rity.gov/medi­care/ap­ply.html). You can ap­ply for Medi­care only, if you’re not ready to re­ceive re­tire­ment ben­e­fits.

• Call So­cial Se­cu­rity at 1-800772-1213, Mon­day through Fri­day, from 7AM to 7PM

• Ap­ply in per­son at your lo­cal So­cial Se­cu­rity of­fice

First-time Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries have what is called an Ini­tial En­roll­ment Pe­riod. This pe­riod starts three months prior to your 65th birth­day, in­cludes your birth month, and ex­tends three months after your birth month. It’s im­por­tant to en­roll dur­ing this time. If you do not en­roll dur­ing the Ini­tial En­roll­ment Pe­riod, you may in­cur late fees or have to wait un­til the Gen­eral En­roll­ment Pe­riod be­tween Jan­uary 1 to March 31 of the fol­low­ing year.

If you or your spouse are still work­ing when you turn 65 and you have health in­sur­ance through this em­ployer, you might con­sider de­lay­ing en­roll­ment in Part B. You may not wish to pay the Part B pre­mium if you don’t need the cov­er­age. Con­tact your cur­rent em­ployer’s Hu­man Re­sources De­part­ment to see if that cov­er­age is suf­fi­cient and find out how it might work with Medi­care Part B be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

When your em­ployer cov­er­age ends or you are no longer ac­tively em­ployed, you will be pro­vided with a Spe­cial En­roll­ment Pe­riod that lasts eight months to sign up for Medi­care Part B with­out in­cur­ring a penalty.

En­rolling in Ad­di­tional Medi­care Cov­er­age After you’ve en­rolled in Medi­care Part A and Part B, you can en­hance this cov­er­age with a Medi­gap plan and a pre­scrip­tion drug plan (Medi­care Part D). Or you could choose to get all your cov­er­age in the form of a Medi­care Ad­van­tage plan.

Mike Zim­mer is pres­i­dent of Bay State In­sur­ance Agency Ltd. in Cen­tre­ville. He is avail­able to an­swer your ques­tions or speak to your groups re­gard­ing Medi­care, Medi­care Ad­van­tage, Medi­care Sup­ple­ments and Medi­care Part D (Pre­scrip­tion Plans) He may be reached at 410-758-1680.

MIKE ZIM­MER

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