Do I Have to Sign Up for Medicare if I Don’t Retire at 65?
March 31, 2020 | Tom Peterson
One question we are asked consistently is, “What do I have to do if I will continue working past my 65th birthday?” For many Americans, they’re not ready or able to retire at 65 and want to continue with their current health insurance coverage before signing up for Medicare.
Good news: You can still enroll in Medicare at a later time if you are currently employed when you turn 65.
However, there are a few steps you should take to make sure you’ll have coverage in the short term and not have to pay more in the long term.
Note: At the time of publishing, Minnesota is under a stay in place order. If you are turning 65 during this time or are leaving your position and need to apply for Medicare, you are still able to apply for Medicare at this time. Please contact us directly if you’re in this position so we can direct you on how to apply.
Step 1: Maintain creditable employer or spousal plan coverage
The term ‘creditable’ is a fancy word used by the health insurance world. Creditable means that the drug portion of your health plan is as good as original Medicare.
There are 3 places you can verify if your coverage is creditable:
1.) Your human resources professional
2.) Call the customer service number on the backside of your health insurance card
3.) Check the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for language around “creditable coverage” or “as good as original Medicare”
If your plan is creditable, you can delay signing up for Medicare. When you retire, you’ll have a special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare without a penalty.
Once you have verified that your plan is creditable, you do not need to report this to anyone. However, we suggest you maintain a paper copy stating this, in case you have to verify this again in the future. Cobra and MNSURE plans are examples of plans that ARE NOT creditable. If you have VA coverage while working, VA coverage is considered creditable.
If you choose an employer health plan that is not creditable, you will incur a penalty from Medicare in the future. In that case, you will need to sign up for a Medicare Part D plan.
Step 2: Narrow down your retirement month
Knowing the month that you will enter the “goof off stage” of your life will help lower your stress level as you check off a number of important tasks. We suggest clients to clarify one major question surrounding their health insurance plan & that is: “If I retire, what date does my health plan terminate?”. Knowing the answer to this will help you determine three things:
1.) When your Medicare Part B date will start. If your plan seizes immediately or in the middle of the month, you will want your Medicare Part B to go into effect the 1st day of that specific month to ensure you will not have a lapse in coverage. If it ends at the end of the month, your Part B date will be the 1st day of the month following.
2.) Make sure you have an appointment to process your Medicare Part B application with social security two months before you intend your Medicare Part B to begin. We advise providing the federal government two months, which is sufficient time for social security to complete your request. We suggest calling your closest social security office for a specified appointment to process your completed Part B application. Feel free to email or contact our office for this application.
3.) Call for an appointment with Twin City Underwriters. The earliest we can meet you to officially submit an application on your behalf is the month before your Part B start date. Please contact us right away once you have determined this. One of our agents will assist you in narrowing down your health options and determine what is most suitable for you based on your health and lifestyle needs.
Plan to retire on or before your 65th Birthday?
You will have a seven month period to apply for Medicare. This period is bookended by three months prior & three months after your 65th birth month. We suggest you apply during the first three months to lock in your Part A & B dates of the 1st day of your 65th birth month. In this situation, applying online through social security’s website is the most efficient process. Once you have applied, we suggest calling us for an appointment at your earliest convenience.
If you are collecting social security, you will automatically be enrolled into Medicare and receive your Medicare card three months prior to your 65th birth month. Once you have received your card in the mail, call us to setup an appointment.
This information and our experienced team will provide you a smooth transition as you plan on retiring. The health insurance plan you choose is a major variable in protecting the hard-earned money you have set aside your whole working life; we are confident that our SurePlan™ Medicare System will offer you peace of mind when making Medicare decisions. This system ensures that you have 24/7 support, even outside of open enrollment. This is vital for those who won’t retire at 65, because your birthday may not overlap with open enrollment. We’re here for your no matter the time of year.