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65 and Still Working? What You Need to Know about Medicare

As more Americans continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, it’s not surprising that people are confused about their Medicare options. Do I have to enroll? When do I enroll? Who do I notify of my choices?

You’re eligible to receive full Medicare benefits when you turn 65. Whether or not you choose to sign up for Parts A, B, C, and D may depend on what type of health coverage you have through your employer and how long you think you’d like to continue working.

It’s a lot of complex information to sort out, and if you don’t act at the right times, you could end up paying more.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Sign up or make sure you’re already signed up for premium-free Part A.

  2. Your employer can’t drop your health coverage just because you turn 65 (unless you work for a very small company. See more details below.)

  3. Decide if you need Medicare Parts B and D.

  4. If you decide not to enroll in Parts B and D, let Medicare know you have “credible coverage.”

If you’re not working full time, you must sign up for Parts A, B, and D during the initial enrollment period or pay a penalty. COBRA and retiree coverage don’t count as “credible coverage.”

Here are some of the most common questions people ask us about what to do about Medicare while you’re still working.

Q: Do I have to enroll if I’m already receiving Social Security? A: No, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Part A (hospital insurance) if you’re already receiving Social Security. You have to enroll separately for Parts B and D, which each have a separate premium.

Q: I’m almost 65 and am not receiving Social Security, how do I enroll in Medicare? A: If you’re not already receiving Social Security, you have to enroll on your own. You can enroll in Medicare Part A online or call 800-772-1213 during the 7-month initial enrollment period which includes the 3 months before, the month of, and the 3 months after you turn 65.

If you miss this window, you may pay higher premiums for life. If you want coverage to start on the first day of the month you turn 65, make sure you enroll during the 3 month window before your birthday. If you wait to enroll 2 months before your birthday, coverage will not start until the month after your birthday and coverage will be delayed one month for each month you delay signing up.

Q: What if I get health insurance through my employer? A: There are a few things to think about here:

  1. Even though you have health insurance through your employer, you’re still eligible for full Medicare benefits once you turn 65.

  2. You should sign up for Medicare Part A because it’s free to those who have worked and contributed to social Security for at least 10 years.

  3. If you’re still working and have coverage through your employer, your employer can’t deny you coverage simply because you turned 65. * See exception below.

  4. If you have “credible coverage” through your employer, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare Part B and D right away. not sure what credible coverage is, talk with your Human Resources department. If you choose not to, make sure you notify Medicare and let them know about your credible coverage.

* Companies with fewer than 20 employees can opt out as your primary payer, meaning they’re your primary insurance coverage. Otherwise, your company must continue to offer you your same coverage.

Q: If I sign up for Part A, do I have to sign up for Parts B and D? A: That’s up to you, but considers this… Since you’re 65, you’re eligible for Medicare Parts B (medical/doctor insurance) and D (prescription coverage) in addition to Part A. You could choose to enroll in Parts B and D, but you’ll pay a premium for that additional coverage.

Even if you work for a large employer, you can choose to make Medicare your secondary payer (or backup provider) and use Part D to help pay for prescriptions.

Important Note: If you decide Part A and your employer-sponsored coverage are adequate for you, make sure you still notify Medicare that you have “credible coverage.” If you don’t let them know, there will be a financial penalty when you do end up needing Medicare.

Q: What if I have COBRA or retiree coverage? A: COBRA and retiree coverage are not considering “still working” and thus do not exempt you from enrolling in Parts B and D during the initial Medicare enrollment period. “Where we see people really get messed up is with COBRA or retiree coverage. Those are the areas where the rules are crystal clear. You have to enroll in Part B.  In the initial enrollment period or your special enrollment period 8 months after you lose that coverage.” says Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center.

In Summary… Here are the key points you need to think about as you turn 65 and are still working.

  1. Sign up or make sure you’re already signed up for premium-free Part A.

  2. Make a decision about whether or not you need parts B and D in addition to your employer-sponsored coverage.

  3. If you decide not to enroll in Parts B and D, let Medicare know you have “credible coverage.”

  4. If you’re not working full time, you must sign up for Parts A, B, and D during the initial enrollment period or pay a penalty. COBRA and retiree coverage do not count as “credible coverage.”

Questions? We’d love to hear from you. What challenges are you facing? Maybe you’re going through this yourself or helping a spouse or parent. Share your story in

#medicare #retirement #tips

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