Working Past 65 and Medicare

Jim is in his mid-70’s and is still working. His current employer offers health insurance, but it’s not that good so he decided it was time to sign up for Medicare Part B.

I sent him the form his employer needed to fill in and sign to show that he has had employer health insurance. I told him to take that form to the Social Security office and sit down with a representative who can get him enrolled in Medicare Part B for September 1st.

Working Past 65 and Medicare can get complicated.

Social Security is very efficient, but I tell people with a special situation to go to the local Social Security office and enroll in-person for Part B. That way, if there is any problem, it is identified right on the spot.

Jim called me to say he had waited a couple of hours to speak with a Social Security rep and he wasn’t happy with what he was told. It turns out that Jim’s current employment only goes back a couple of years and Jim did not have documentation to prove he had employer health insurance before that (when he was over 65). So Jim had to get another form and take it to his previous employer.

He took that completed form back to the Social Security office, waited two hours to talk to someone and…. he still has a problem.

It turns out there was a period of six months (after he had turned 65) during which Jim had no health insurance from an employer. The Social Security rep could see that the two forms he provided were showing a six month gap of coverage (since he turned 65). The rep said Jim might be refused a “special enrollment period” for Part B because he did not have continuous employer health insurance coverage since he turned 65 almost ten years ago.

If that gap in coverage prevents Jim from signing up for Medicare Part B, he will have to wait until the “General Enrollment Period” which is January through March. He could apply for Part B during that time, but his Part B would not begin until July 1st next year.

But…. the Social Security rep said he might be approved because Medicare allows a person to go eight months without employer coverage (after they have turned 65). The rep said she would submit his application for Part B and that he could check back with her in a few days to see if he was approved.

Wow. I had not run into this type of situation before. I’ve learned something new: a person must get a signed form from each of the employers for whom they worked when they were over 65.

That could get complicated, especially if a company went out of business.

Jim’s current employer doesn’t offer good health insurance and he would be better off with Medicare. Unlike Jim, many people don’t compare Medicare coverage to their employer coverage.

Some people think Medicare is not good health insurance – and they are very, very wrong.

Medicare is very good coverage – especially with a Medicare supplement. A Medicare Advantage plan is also very good coverage, with no deductibles that usually come with small-employer health plans.

Unfortunately, many people who are working past 65 do not realize how good Medicare is and that they would be better off signing up for Medicare at 65.

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4 Responses to "Working Past 65 and Medicare"

  1. Dave Van Daele says:

    Excellent and helpful post about a very scary situation.

  2. Denise says:

    UPDATE: Jim got approved for Medicare Part B with no late-enrollment penalty.

  3. Lois LeFleur says:

    There is a l_at the beginning of my email address, which I don’t see.That’s a lower case L.
    Anyway, my question concerns avoiding the increase for Medicare that some are going to get.
    I started collecting SS last April on my 66th birthday, but still work full-time. I only signed up for Medicare Part A because of my insurance from work for the last 8 years. i plan to retire at the end of 2015 and was going to start Medicare Part B in January of 2016. Should I start part B earlier, if that is possible? Or do I not have to worry because I already collect social security? I will definitely not fall into the higher income category.

  4. Denise says:

    Lois: I sent you an email with answers to your questions.

    A person who has good employer health insurance doesn’t need to pay for Medicare Part B – but many people actually have lousy health insurance through their employer and would be better off using Medicare. In fact, if your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you must use your Medicare A and B as your primary coverage.

    I do not know the answer to your question about not having to worry because you are already collecting Social Security.

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