UNITED STATES─Toni: My Medicare and Social Security nightmare began when I retired from my job, July of last year and enrolled in COBRA so that I could have a knee replacement in December 2018. I was given inaccurate information from a local Social Security agent and now I am going to receive a penalty because I did not enroll in Part B at the right time.

I am a 69-year-old female who has been employed by three different companies, and no one ever informed me that I needed to have a special form signed by each company I worked for since turning 65. I thought I had to get the Request for Employment form signed by my last company.

I spoke to the assistant district manager of the Social Security office and she asked me why I never enrolled in Medicare’s Part B when I left the company and enrolled in COBRA. I was then informed that my penalty is 40 percent, which is 69-65 or 4 years. The penalty is not for 1 year, but forever!!

I now must fight Social Security because they are under the impression that I have waited past the 8-month window to enroll in Medicare. What a nightmare!

Please inform your readers how important it is to enroll in Part B the right way when enrolling in COBRA. Cathie from West U.

Hello Cathie: Need help with rectifying your Social Security issues, then talk with your area’s Congressman’s office. Medicare and Social Security are federal programs and your Congress person’s office is the one to help you solve your issues. Many are finding a gigantic surprise when they enroll in Medicare Part B after being on COBRA.

At the Toni Says® office, we inform those who come to the office for Medicare planning to be sure that Part B begins the day you lose your company benefits or the day your COBRA plan begins.

In the Medicare & You handbook on “Should I get Part B?” it discusses the rules of COBRA when you were first eligible and what the late penalties are. Many think the Part B rule starts when COBRA ends in 18 months.

They are not aware that the Special Enrollment Period begins the month they lose their company benefits or employment ends and go on COBRA. They try to enroll in Part B like you did Cathie with a BIG SURPRISE finding they are penalized 10 percent each year or 12-month period, you could have had Part B, but didn’t. The penalty goes all the way back to the day he/she turned 65 or the day Part A began.

I have a client in Wharton, TX, 79 years old and was always on his wife’s company health plan. He never enrolled in Part B because she was the “working spouse,” but she lost her job…She was 62 and because she had health issues and the cost of COBRA was less than an Obamacare health plan, she enrolled herself and for Part B was not $135.50. It was $135.50 plus $189.70 penalty for late enrollment for a total of $325.10 per month which is a 140 percent penalty (14 years (79-65) x 10 percent) each month for the rest of his Medicare life. He did not enroll in “Part B” at the right time or the right way!

Remember…Toni Says®… always have Part B in place when leaving your job or losing your company benefits. There might not be a second chance! Call the Toni Says® office at 832-519-8664 to schedule a Medicare review

Toni King, author of the new Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition is giving a “Holiday” $5 discount for a Medicare Survival Guide and $10 discount for bundle package available only at www.tonisays.com.