Still Working: the magic words for enrolling in Part B correctly

Toni King

Dear Toni:

I’m losing the battle with Social Security about me and my wife enrolling in Medicare Part B since I am losing my group benefits effective January 31. I took early retirement in July 2016 and both me and my wife have been under company group health benefits. I now find out that I had to be an active employee to enroll in Medicare Part B without receiving a penalty. No one ever told me this.

Please explain what Medicare rule I am not following.

Thanks, Vic from San Antonio, TX


I do not have good news for you because you have missed your window to enroll in Medicare Part B after you retired in July 2016. You are to follow Medicare’s enrollment rules as Social Security deems.

You or your spouse are “still working” are magic words when it comes to enrolling past 65 and losing your or your spouse’s company benefits. The Medicare and You Handbook discusses under the title of “Should I enroll in Part B” about delaying Medicare Part B when you are leaving your or your spouse’s group benefits and “that you can sign up for Part B anytime during the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first.”

Vic, you have waited too long to apply. During a Medicare consultation at the Toni Says® office, whether just laid off or retiring, we stress the value of getting Part B for the first time and that Medicare Part B needs to be enrolled in prior to either enrolling in COBRA or retirement group benefits.

Vic, you and your wife have waited past the 8-month window to apply for Medicare Part B because your last working day was in July of 2016. You thought that you were protected because of your employer group health plan and your severance retirement package. You never dreamed that you were past your time window to enroll and that your HR representative would put July 2016 on your form that she will not change to January 31, 2018 when you are leaving your group benefits.

You and your wife have a big problem because your group plan is leaving January 31 and you cannot get your Medicare Part B to begin until July 1, 2018 due to General Enrollment Period rules.

Below are Medicare Enrollment Periods:

--Special Enrollment Period: Enroll after 65 when delaying Medicare Part B due to working full time with company benefits. This is an 8-month window of signing up for Part B without receiving a Part B penalty. (Need Request for Employment Information form signed by HR returned to Social Security)

--General Enrollment Period: January 1-March 31 when one who has not enrolled in Part B and now can enroll in Medicare Part B. WILL receive a Part B penalty. Part B will begin July1.

--Medicare Initial Enrollment Period: Begins 3 months before turning 65, the month one turns 65 and 3 months after one turns 65.

Toni Says®: Many are not aware of the Medicare Part B and Part D monthly penalty or No Part B or Part D coverage, and you will pay 100% for those benefits. Don’t wait!

Toni King the author of Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced, is offering a free Medicare workshop DVD with each bundle package at www.tonisays.com. If you have any questions regarding this article or any future Medicare issues that you would like Toni to address, please feel free to reach out to her at 1-832- 519-8664 or email at info@tonisays.com.