UNITED STATES─ Toni: My Medicare Part B enrollment nightmare began when I was laid off from my job on March 10. I was given inaccurate information when I left my job and enrolled in COBRA to have knee surgery when I turned 67.

I am a 69-year-old female who has been employed by 3 different companies, and no one ever informed me that I needed to have a special form CMS-L564, “Request for Employment Information” signed by each company I worked for since turning 65.

I spoke to the district manager of my local 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 informed that my penalty is 40 percent, which is 69-65 or 4 years. The penalty is not for 1 year, but forever!! Because I did not enroll in Part B at the right time.

Toni, please inform your readers how important it is to enroll in Medicare Part B when enrolling in when leaving or losing your employment or applying for COBRA after 65. Cathie from Tulsa, OK.

Cathie: Last week, the Toni Says® Medicare office had repeated phone calls regarding this matter. Many that have been laid off and losing benefits were never told that they needed to have the CMS-L564 “Request for Employment Information” signed by every company they worked for since turning 65and covered by employer benefits.

Americans do not realize how important it is to enroll the right way. 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 starts.

Many try to enroll in Part B like you did Cathie with a BIG SURPRISE discovering they are penalized 10 percent each year or 12-month period, you could have had Part B. The penalty goes all the way back to the day he/she turned 65 or the day Part A began.

Cathie, your penalty is for 40 percent and the average Part B premium for 2020 is $146.40.  Your penalty will be $146.40 + $58.56 = $204.96 per month for 2020. The amount will change each year.

The process to enroll in Medicare Part B past 65 whether laid off or retiring is the same:

Write in red letters Special Enrollment Period on each form for the Social Security agent that is processing them to know that you are signing up at the right time and keep from giving you a penalty. You are applying for a SEP (Special Enrollment Period). (These forms are also available at the Toni Says office by emailing info@tonisays.com or calling 832-519-8664.

1)       Form #1 Request for Employment Information (CMS-L564) for proof of group health care coverage based on current employment. This information is needed to process your Medicare enrollment application. If you have had 2 or more jobs since turning 65, then each company will have to sign this form. Be sure to have forms signed for both you and your covered spouse.

2)       Form #2 Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B(CMS-40B): Social Security fills out this form.

***Currently, all Social Security offices are closed due to COVID-19 situation and both forms must be faxed or mailed together when sending to the Social Security office for yourself and/or spouse when applying for Medicare Part B. Please be sure to keep a copy for yourself.***

Confused…. you are not alone! America is confused about Medicare rules!

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.