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Guest Blog: Planning Your Retirement

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Planning Your Retirement: 5 Ways to Get Started with Medicare

Guest Blog from University of Vermont Medical Center

It’s never too early to start your Medicare planning. For most, Medicare benefits begin at age 65. For others, Medicare benefits may begin earlier due to Social Security Disability Insurance.

Today, many people are working past the age of 65 and have two separate decisions to make:

 

  1. When do I start my Medicare health insurance?
  2. When do I begin my Social Security monetary benefits?

The Social Security Administration can help you with answers to both questions.

1. Start Your Medicare Benefits at 65

Let’s tackle the first question. Medicare starts at age 65, and your initial enrollment period into Medicare begins three months prior to your 65th birthday. You may start Medicare through the Social Security Administration or Medicare.gov. As for the second question, Social Security monetary benefits may be redeemable sooner, depending on your personal situation. You can talk to Social Security to find out what your situation is. It’s important to get the conversations started, so you don’t miss out on your benefits!

2. Ask Yourself These Important Questions

When you arm yourself with the answers to these questions, you will be well positioned to move forward with your retirement planning. Medicare.gov is a great resource to help you answer these questions.

  • Am I planning on working past 65?
  • What are the rules to delay Medicare coverage without a penalty?
  • Do I have insurance through my current employer?
  • What is the size of my current employer?
  • Do I have retirement insurance options?
  • Do I need drug coverage if I don’t take medicine?
  • I have Medicare, but what about my spouse who isn’t eligible for Medicare yet?
  • What is the cost of Medicare?
  • What are my coverage options?
  • Can I get financial help paying for Medicare? 

3. Avoid Late Penalties

One of the costliest mistakes is not following the rules and laws around delaying Medicare Part B medical coverage due to an active Employer Group Health Plan.

The size of the employer and whether you are actively working are both critical factors to understand whether or not you decide to delay Part B. (There are different employer size requirements for employees 65 and over versus younger than 65 and on Medicare.)

For every 12-month period that you delay Medicare Part B, there is a 10 percent late penalty added onto your monthly premium. Currently, the Medicare Part B premiums are $104.90 or $121.80 per month, depending on when you started Medicare, along with other factors. If an individual doesn’t enroll into Medicare Part D drug coverage during their Initial Enrollment Period, they too may incur a late penalty upon enrollment.

4. Select Medicare Coverage for a Medicare Part D Drug Plan, Medicare Supplemental Plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan

It’s always important to understand what your personal and financial needs are. You will want insurance to take care of yourself. If you don’t join a drug plan when you are first eligible, there may be penalties and you may not have coverage. Select your Medicare coverage to ensure you have access to prescriptions and providers who provide your care. Some great sources of Medicare information are the Medicare & You Handbook, the website Medicare.gov, or your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

5. Get Local Unbiased Information Through Local Experts

Age Well, a nonprofit organization serving seniors in Northwestern Vermont, offers the Helpline, a toll-free, confidential resource answered by professional and certified staff. To receive assistance, call the Helpline: 1-800-642-5119 and ask for help with Medicare.

The Vermont State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) at Age Well offers Medicare counseling, classes and is a great resource for federal and state financial help. The SHIP counselors work closely with to Vermont Senior Medicare Project to protect seniors from health care fraud. 

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