UNITED STATES—Hi Toni, I turned 65 in August of 2018 and am still working covered entirely by my large company health plan. My wife is 63 and covered by the plan. My question is… Do I need to enroll in Medicare Part A now or can I wait until I retire? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Brian from The Woodlands

Brian: Since you are past 65 and have not enrolled in your Medicare Part A, you are fine.  You can enroll now in Medicare Part A only since you are working full-time with employer benefits. Or you will be enrolled in Medicare Part A only when you decide to start your Social Security check and keep working full-time when you are at your full retirement age.

A few years ago, I learned a valuable Medicare Part A lesson from a gentleman that I was meeting with to help with his Medicare retirement planning.

He was 72 and failed to enroll in Medicare properly receiving the “famous” Medicare Part B penalty.

At 70, he retired and began his Social Security benefits.  He chose to enroll in his company COBRA and delay his Medicare Part B because his Part B premium would have been over $400 a month due to his income.  He waited until his COBRA ended 18 months later which was past his Medicare Part B enrollment time and received a Part B penalty.

When I met with him, I discovered that his Medicare Part B penalty was 20% for 2 full 12-month periods since he began receiving his Social Security check at 70.  Remember, he was 72 when we met.  I figured his penalty would have been 70% for 7 full 12-month periods (72-65=7).

The Medicare Part B penalty as defined in the Medicare and You handbook is that your Medicare Part B premium may go up 10% for each full 12-month period you could have had Medicare Part B but failed to enroll. If you sign up for Medicare Part B during a Special Enrollment Period, you will have an 8-month period which begins when your employment ends, or group coverage ends which every comes first.  This person waited until 18-months when his COBRA ended because he didn’t know the Medicare rules.

This is when I discovered that Medicare Part A was not mandatory to begin at 65 if one is working full-time with employer benefits or covered under their spouse’s full-time employer benefits.

When this person does delay beginning their Medicare Part A/or B until they decide to begin their Social Security check or have decided to retire leaving their or their working spouse’s employer benefits.  It is at that time that their Medicare Part A will begin 6 months prior to apply if this specific person is past 65. Yes, your Medicare Part A will begin 6 months before the date that you apply.  Apply June 1st and your Medicare Part A will begin January 1st.  Confusing…. I know!

If one is turning 65 and applying for Medicare Part A only, then Medicare Part A will begin the 1st day of the month they turn 65.

If you are still confused and would like to discuss your specific Medicare circumstances email info@tonisays.com so the Toni Says® team can help you.

Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® is giving a $5 discount on the  Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book and bundle packages for the Toni Says® newspaper article readers at www.tonisays.com.