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Old 03-01-2017, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Idaho
4,627 posts, read 4,468,721 times
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This post details my experience this past Monday at the Social Security office relating to signing up for Medicare. If this topic is not of current interest to you, feel free to move on to more applicable threads/posts. Submitted for your consideration because my experiences just might help someone. Of course, your experiences with the SSA office will probably differ than mine.

- - -

My contact in our HR department that handles retiring employees very strongly advised signing up for Medicare in person, even though it is possible to do so on-line.

I went into our local SSA office and waited in line for 45-minutes at the check-in window. When my turn came, I explained to the clerk that I wanted to sign up for Medicare and she took a look at my birth certificate, Social Security card, (and driver's license for id purposes . . . I think, can't remember for sure). Also she perused a letter from HR explaining that I have had continuous, qualifying medical insurance since I turned 65. Satisfied with the documentation, she proceeded to make an appointment fo me a couple weeks into the future.

That appointment was on Monday. Even though my appointment was at 11:00, I was in line by 9:30 to check in. But I kept losing my place in line because knowing that parking was awful, I rode my Vespa, (which one can usually park anywhere). The guard kept calling be to move my scooter for various reasons.

Finally, the loudspeaker said that those who had an appointment can move to the front of the line, and within about five minutes I was able to finally check in. That was followed by another fifteen minute wait and a few minutes past my appointment time, I was called to a window. "We aren't meeting in the back?" "No, we grab whatever space is available at the time." Kinda bummed at that. Right behind me was a room full of noisy people lamenting having to wait so long. But, I was able to tune them out, and really didn't care if anybody was listening or not. I really didn't have any secrets.

The actual signing up for Medicare was pretty quick and painless. She kept a copy of that HR continuous medical coverage letter, so if you are in this situation, be sure to bring two copies. One for them to keep, one for your files. I requested for Medicare coverage to commence on April 1st, as I will be on my employer medical plan until the end of March. In about three weeks, I will receive my Medicare card and a bill for three months of Part B.

That surprised me, probably because I had assumed that one pays for Medicare on a monthly basis. It looks like it is quarterly. I asked about the rate because even tough my income is relatively high right now, when I start Medicare, I will be retired and will have a substantially lower income. She said that retirement is a "life qualifying event" and at that time, to come in and do whatever it is to get my Plan B payment lowered to 'normal' rates.

I want to give credit to the SSA lady. She was very, very patient and was willing to spend time with me for as long as it took to get all of my questions answered. After the Medicare stuff, she asked if I had any other questions and I moved on to applying for Social Security benefits. I indicated that I wanted to wait until some indeterminate time in the future, and is it possible to get a chart that shows me how much less, (pre-FRA), or more, (post-FRA), that I would get on a month-by-month basis.

She printed out a two-page table that is titled Benefit Matrix at the top. It is based on my earning history and hows how much, per month, I would get both before and after my FRA. (The difference, for me, is about $14 per month pre-FRA and about $17 per month post-FRA). Seventeen dollars a month doesn't seem like much by itself, but when you look at it over a year, it's something to seriously consider. This Benefit Matrix will prove useful in the decision of when I desire to start SS benefits.

Since my financial advisor recommends that I delay SS for as long as financially viable, I asked about drawing spousal benefits based on my ex-wife's earning history. I couldn't find her SS number, but the lady asked me several questions and was quickly able to find my ex-wife in the system. The items I had to give her to find the record was her first name, her maiden name, birthplace, father's first name, and mother's first name. That was all! I was mightily impressed.

Knowing that my ex-wife never had a 'career', her earning history was not very high. Turns out that I would only get $354 a month, and it would not start until my FRA. I guess one can not start spousal benefits before then. If I decide to go ahead with that, I will need to bring in a marriage certificate, a divorce certificate, and the divorce certificate from my second marriage, (yeah, I was married twice - but I've finally learned my lesson and there won't be a third). The second divorce cert is to confirm that I am not currently married.

- - -

p.s. The only other mention that I could find about the Benefit Matrix was in Nightengale212's post of July 2015. http://www.city-data.com/forum/40539159-post47.html


.
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Last edited by volosong; 03-01-2017 at 08:55 AM..
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Old 03-01-2017, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Sierra Nevada Land, CA
8,401 posts, read 9,145,702 times
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I signed up online last year. It was fast, painless and successful. After one follow up call on my cellphone (tip: avoid that landline phone tag*) I was done.

*And yes, the SSA calls you during business hours, when you are not home. Give them your cell number, not your landline.
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Old 03-02-2017, 10:58 AM
 
Location: USA
1,815 posts, read 2,243,650 times
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Question:


Why do you need the letter from employer that you've had continuous coverage?


What happens if you don't have continuous coverage when you turn Medicare age?
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Idaho
4,627 posts, read 4,468,721 times
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Red, if one does not sign up for Medicare in that initial seven-month window around their 65th birthday, they are subject to a 10% penalty per each full year of delay . . . for the rest of one's life!!! That seven-month window is three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and the three months following your birthday month.

In my case, my 65th birthday was last August. The initial sign-up window for me ran from May 1, 2016 through November 30, 2016, inclusive. Since I was still employed and had employer-subsidized qualifying medical coverage, I did not need to sign up for Medicare at that time.

Providing that letter to the SSA mitigates having to pay that penalty each month until I die. The longer one delays signing up, the higher the penalty. If one lives a long, long life, it could be a substantial amount.


On your second question, I'm not sure what you are asking. I think 'nothing' happens. The SSA, as it concerns Medicare, really doesn't care if one has or does not have medical insurance prior to turning 65. It's a non-issue as far as Medicare is concerned. (Note: I'm not talking about 'special' cases; of which I know nothing.)


.
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:44 AM
 
Location: USA
1,815 posts, read 2,243,650 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volosong View Post
Red, if one does not sign up for Medicare in that initial seven-month window around their 65th birthday, they are subject to a 10% penalty per each full year of delay . . . for the rest of one's life!!! That seven-month window is three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and the three months following your birthday month.

In my case, my 65th birthday was last August. The initial sign-up window for me ran from May 1, 2016 through November 30, 2016, inclusive. Since I was still employed and had employer-subsidized qualifying medical coverage, I did not need to sign up for Medicare at that time.

Providing that letter to the SSA mitigates having to pay that penalty each month until I die. The longer one delays signing up, the higher the penalty. If one lives a long, long life, it could be a substantial amount.


On your second question, I'm not sure what you are asking. I think 'nothing' happens. The SSA, as it concerns Medicare, really doesn't care if one has or does not have medical insurance prior to turning 65. It's a non-issue as far as Medicare is concerned. (Note: I'm not talking about 'special' cases; of which I know nothing.)


.


Thank you Volosong! You answered my questions.


I didn't realize you were past 65 when you were signing up -- I guess I need to read a little more closely
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:45 PM
 
Location: Planet Woof
3,139 posts, read 3,509,293 times
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Ah, VS! A fellow scooter rider! *grin*
Very helpful post! I did not know about the penalty, tho my app for MC is a few years off. Good to know.
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:25 AM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
25,330 posts, read 41,438,561 times
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I just asked my wife how I signed up for Medicare as I do not recall the process. She said it was when I turned 65, about 2 years ago. My wife did it for me, on line, on her computer... She said it was a "virtually painless process".
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:57 AM
 
246 posts, read 226,420 times
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Very interesting process you went through but glad it turned out ok. I signed my husband up about 2 years ago on line. He applied for social security at the same time and his medicare payment comes out of the social security check monthly. You are fortunate to be able to pay quarterly.
The entire process was painless and benefits started on time. It is one of the few government run organizations that are efficient and accessible when a problem arises.
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Old 03-03-2017, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
14,242 posts, read 44,919,845 times
Reputation: 12828
Volosong, if you signed up for Medicare Part B, how do you go about paying for it? DW is just turned 65, full retirement age for her is 66, so we don't want to take the SS payments (which would be reduced) yet. I understand once you are taking SS, Part B is deducted from your payments.

I had a similar experience to you, signing my wife up, she just turned 65, and had to go to the SS office rather than do it online, because she is going on "my" medicare, she has not worked enough quarters to have her own. The website kept kicking me out, but did not offer any rational explanation. The guy in the window said that putting her on "my" SS was not possible online. So anybody reading this who has a similar situation, realize you need to travel to SS office in person, you won't be able to do this online.

We went down and talked to the guy in the window, a time-wasting wait but the only way to get it done. She has a phone interview about 3 weeks after the in-person visit, I need to mail a copy of our marriage certificate to SS (got that with me today, if I get a chance will get it out in the mail today).

This should be a relatively simple process.
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Idaho
4,627 posts, read 4,468,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
Volosong, if you signed up for Medicare Part B, how do you go about paying for it? DW is just turned 65, full retirement age for her is 66, so we don't want to take the SS payments (which would be reduced) yet. I understand once you are taking SS, Part B is deducted from your payments...
In reference to the bold text above, I asked, and the 'lady at the window' said that in about three weeks, I would get my Medicare card in the mail and an invoice for the first three months. I think that I will be billed quarterly until such time that I begin Social Security benefits. As you state, at that time, the Part B will be deducted from my benefits.

.
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