UNITED STATES—Toni: My husband is finally retiring from the company he has worked at since 1995 and now our Medicare nightmare is beginning.  Jim’s company has changed ownership many times since he turned 65 in 2001 and we can only receive verification paperwork which goes back to 2012, leaving an 11-year gap.

Social Security will not approve our Part B to begin January 1and has stated that we need to come back and apply again any time from January 1 to March 31.

Jim is 82 and I am 76 and the Social Security agent said he would have a 110 percent penalty and I will have a 50 percent penalty. Why is this so complicated?  No one ever told Jim he needed to have paperwork signed when the company changed ownership.  He has never worked for another company for 22 years. No one in HR will verify because the records only go back to 2012.

What a mess! Please advise what we should do.  Claire from San Antonio, TX. Claire:

With companies laying off, changing ownership or closing the doors, America needs to know the rules of Medicare.  Many HR managers and their assistants are not aware that employees past 65 need to have the Social Security form #QMB No.0938-0787 known as “Request for Employment Information” which verifies proof of group health care coverage based on current or past employment.

Have the special form signed and retain it in a safe place for when you finally retire and need to apply for Medicare Part B for both yourself and your spouse (if they are also receiving benefits from your company).

Last week, a new client came to the Toni Says office for Medicare consultation and because he reads the column in his local newspaper, he was aware to go back to his past employers (which there were 3 since he turned 65) and have them fill out the form.

He specifically made sure that there was not a gap between these employers.  When he retires next year, he will have his current employer also fill out a form and take all forms to the local Social Security office.

I would speak with the HR manager and express your concerns.  If these forms have any gaps, then both of you will receive a Part B penalty. You will be enrolled as a General Enrollment Period, as the Social Security agent was talking about which has no Special Enrollment Period protection keeping you from receiving a Part B penalty.

Medicare Special and General Enrollment Periods are listed below:

•        Special Enrollment Period:  Enroll after 65 when delaying Medicare Part B for you and your spouse due to working full time with company benefits. All employers since turning 65 need to sign form. (Very Important)

•        General Enrollment Period: January 1-March 31 is the enrollment period when one who has not enrolled in Part B or cannot receive all employer benefit verification dates from current and/or past employers on the “Request for Employment Information” form since turning 65. During the General Enrollment Period, one can enroll in Medicare Part B, but WILL receive a Part B penalty for each 12-month period that you cannot prove you had employer benefits. The Part B penalty will continue for as long as you are using Medicare.  Your Medicare Part B will begin July 1.

Is the maze of Medicare confusing you? Visit www.abbs4u.com and attend ABBS (American Baby Boomer Society) Medicare courses for more Medicare education.

Merry Christmas from Toni and the Toni Says® team with a $5 discount on the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book and bundle packages for the Toni Says® newspaper article readers at www.tonisays.com. Email questions to info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.