Toni Says: How Untimely Enrollment in Medicare Part B Can Overwhelm!

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Hello, Toni:

My husband retired several years ago when he turned 65. He enrolled in Medicare Part A but declined Part B because I put him on my Blue Cross Blue Shield policy provided by my employer. Lately I have read articles concerning failure to enroll in Medicare Part B and the additional cost each year that you delay enrollment.

I have planned to keep my husband on my policy until my retirement in 3 years when I turn 65. The coverage and cost are better than Part B or any additional supplement on the market. I spoke with a representative at the Social Security office and asked if he would be penalized for delaying enrollment in Part B. They said he would not if he provides evidence that he has maintained creditable health insurance.

This information seems counter to what I have been reading or what friends are telling me at church. Help Toni! I am so overwhelmed. Shirley from Dallas, TX

Shirley,

Social Security gave you excellent advice about your husband’s Medicare. Many times, in the past, I have written about the famous “Special Enrollment Period” form called CMS L564, “Request for Employment Information,” that needs to have the words “Special Enrollment Period” written at the top in red ink. You will need to have the CMS L564 form signed by your HR department whenever you leave company benefits, to avoid the Medicare Part B penalty.

When enrolling in Medicare Part B, the signed form must be sent by fax or mailed Certified with a return signature card (for your protection) to the local Social Security office. Remember to always make copies of what you send to government agencies.

Shirley, a person must have this form signed when one is past 65, whether leaving for a new job or simply retiring. This is necessary! The CMS L564 forms from all employment past age 65 must be sent to the Social Security office.

Last week a Toni Says® Medicare column reader visited the Toni Says® office for a Medicare consultation, due to his wife retiring. The husband had already enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and they are now experiencing the pain and agony of trying to enroll in a Medicare Supplement/Medigap as the husband must now answer health questions.

The husband who is 76 with spousal company benefits had enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B in 2015 when he retired. The wife, who qualified for the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment (6-month enrollment period) because her Medicare Parts A and B are beginning February 2022, did not have to answer one health question because she had filed in December her CMS L564 that the Toni Says® office emailed her. Now she can pick whichever Medicare Supplement plan she desires. I have written about this special 6-month window many times and have stressed the importance of enrolling in Part B at the correct time.

Due to health issues, the husband can only apply for a “guaranteed issue” Medicare Supplement policy because he had been enrolled in Medicare Part B past the 6-month window and has health conditions that keep him from qualifying medically. He can only receive a 63-day guaranteed issue period to apply for a Medicare Supplement, instead of 6 months.

You must have a current company benefits termination letter to prove to the Medicare Supplement insurance company that you are in a guaranteed issue period. No termination letter? Then you might not qualify and will have a Medicare Advantage Plan or original Medicare Parts A and B as your medical plan without a Medicare Supplement.

For a Medicare Checkup, contact Toni Says® Medicare team at 832/519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com regarding your Medicare options.

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