When I'm 64...

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

As you move into 64 years, on God’s green earth, and you near your 65th birthday, you’ll face a whole lot of important decisions—and a flood of mail, and possibly many telemarketing phone calls.

The Medicare Sales Pitch has begun.

Some of the information you receive may be helpful, like a Medicare pre-enrollment checklist, and a phone number to call for help. Just keep in mind that the people contacting you have nothing to do with CMS, which is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and they represent insurance companies and large brokerage firms.

Rarely will any of them come to your home and help you in-person, or quite frankly, be there for you in the future.

Most just want to sign you up for “some type of plan”, free of charge of course.

But there are some important decisions you need to start thinking about if you are considering signing up for Medicare at age 65.

Many of you may have already began receiving Social Security income, and many of you may want to continue to work past 65.

If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Part A, for most people, cost you nothing. The Part B coverage has a $148.50 premium in 2021, that will come out of your social security monthly income. So, if you are working, and on your employer’s health plan, you may want to contact social security to have them stop the Part B premium.

If your employer has a good health plan, you can wait to add the Part B medical coverage, when you stop working and lose your employers health coverage.

If you have not started Social Security and will continue to work and use your employer’s health plan, then you don’t have to do anything.

Even if you will keep working, most experts say, it doesn’t hurt to apply for Medicare Part A, when you turn 65, even if you’re still working full-time, because it doesn’t cost you anything.

If you work for a company that doesn’t provide health insurance or has fewer than 20 employees, or you’re self-employed, sign up for Medicare parts A and B, three months before your 65th birthday, which is the earliest you can enroll. That way, you’ll receive benefits as soon as you’re eligible.

If you don’t have prescription drug coverage from another source, such as retiree health insurance, you should also sign up for Part D, which covers prescription drugs. Premiums vary depending on the plan you choose but average, about $35 a month.

Even at 65, if you’re working for a company that provides health insurance, your employer must offer you the same group health plan, it offers all other employees. For that reason, again, you may want to delay signing up for Part B, until you leave your job. Otherwise, you could end up paying monthly premiums to Medicare, and premiums for your employer-provided coverage.

At least you can know that you won’t be alone, in working past 65. In 2024, approximately 36% of those of us between age 65 and 69, will be working, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 22% in 1994.

Three months before you decide to definitely retire, and give up your employer’s health plan, you will want to sign up for Medicare. Please, do it early. Remember, Medicare is a big government agency, and they rarely do things quickly.

Probably the biggest challenge, as retirement approaches is all the homework you should do, and the harsh hits you take, in terms of penalties and coverage gaps, if you don’t play by the rules and meet the deadlines.

Timing is everything - Meet the Medicare deadlines.