UNITED STATES─Hello Toni: I turned 65 in December and have not received my Medicare card. I am working full-time with company benefits and not taking my social security check. A co-worker said I should have already received my card because her parents did at 65. Do I call Medicare or what to enroll? Do I have to be receiving my Social Security check to get Medicare? Can you please explain what I should do? Thanks, Janie, Longview, TX.

Janie: I have good news for you because your Medicare situation is fine! You are working full-time with company insurance. You are not receiving your Social Security check yet, so your Medicare card would not come automatically. When you decide to retire and are no longer under your or your spouse’s employer health insurance is when you need to apply for Medicare. This is one of the main topics during a Toni Says Medicare consultation.

Most people think that when they turn 65, a magical switch is turned on and poof automatically they are on Medicare! Medicare changed the rules during the Clinton administration, when Social Security extended the time to begin receiving 100 percent of one’s social security benefits.

For your Medicare card to automatically begin the first day of the month that you turn 65 depends on whether you are receiving your social security check. Receiving your social security check is your ticket to starting your Medicare at 65.

Every person’s Medicare situation is different and as I have written before trying to compare your Medicare to a friend’s sometimes does more harm than good.

For those who are either self-employed or working full-time with individual health insurance and not currently receiving their Social Security check, but will be turning 65 will want to apply for their Medicare to begin the month that they turn 65. Social Security has changed how they want you to enroll. Social Security wants you to enroll in Medicare online at www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.

It is important to set up a My Social Security account before you enroll in Medicare because you must have an account to start the enrollment. Visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount to get started by setting up your My Social Security account.

How to receive your Medicare at the right time:

  • Turning 65 and Receiving Your Social Security Check-is the easiest way to receive your card. Medicare will send your “Welcome to Medicare” kit 90 days before you turn 65 with your Medicare card in the kit.
  • Turning 65 and NOT Receiving a Social Security Check – because you are still working or may not be working but waiting past 65 to receive 100 percent of your Social Security. Go to www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare at least 90 days prior to turning 65 for your Medicare to begin the first day of the month you turn 65. It takes Social Security a few days to do the paperwork.
  • Turning 65 and “Still Working”- Talk to your Employers Human Resources. Ask if you need to enroll in Part B. If you do not need Part B because you are “still working” or your spouse is “still working” and you may be on their group plan.

Toni Says®: Take your time when enrolling in Medicare. Know your Medicare options. For questions regarding the maze of Medicare, call the Toni Says Medicare hotline at 832-519-8664.

Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® is giving a $5 discount on the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book to the Toni Says Medicare column readers at www.tonisays.com.