Applying for Medicare

medicareWill you be turning 65 soon?  If so, you need to consider when to apply for Medicare benefits.  If benefits are not applied for in a timely fashion you could pay a premium penalty for the rest of your life.

There is a 7-month initial enrollment period when you are first eligible for benefits.  This begins 3 months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after your 65th birthday.  There is no delay in receiving benefits if you sign up during the initial enrollment period.

If you miss the initial enrollment period, there is an annual enrollment period running from January 1 until March 31 of each year.  However, signing up during this time frame delays your benefits until July 1 of the same year and you may be charged a higher premium for late enrollment.

If you still plan on working after age 65, and are covered by a group health plan from your employer, there is a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare.  You can sign up any time as long as you or your spouse is working and you are covered by the group health plan through the employer.  You also have an 8-month special Enrollment Period starting with the month after the employment or group health plan ends (whichever occurs first) to sign up without being penalized.  COBRA and retiree health plans are not considered coverage based on current employment.

If you are currently working, you may want to consider delaying your Medicare application if you have the opportunity to contribute to an HSA (health savings account).  Once you apply for Medicare you can no longer make contributions to an HSA.  You also should contact your benefits manager to determine how Medicare eligibility will impact your other health benefits.

KatzAbosch can help you navigate your way through the Medicare and Social Security Application process.  Please contact lkirk@katzabosch.com or 410-828-2727 with any questions.

Prepared by Lori Kirk, CPA, a shareholder at KatzAbosch and Chairperson of the Estate Administration Services Group.

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