UNITED STATES—Dear Toni: I am losing the battle with Social Security about me and my wife enrolling in Medicare Part B since I am losing my group benefits effective March 31. I took early retirement in April 30, 2020 when COVID-19 problems started and both me and my wife have been under company group health benefits.  I now find out that I had to be an active employee to enroll in Medicare Part B without receiving a penalty.  No one ever told me this. Please explain what Medicare rule I am not following.  Thanks, Vic from San Antonio, TX.

Vic: I do not have good news for you because you have missed your window to enroll in Medicare Part B after you retired April 30, 2020 which is over the 8-month Medicare Special Enrollment Period time limit.

You or your spouse are “still working” are magic words when it comes to enrolling past 65 and losing your and/or your spouse’s company benefits. The Medicare and You Handbook discusses under the title of “Should I enroll in Part B” about delaying Medicare Part B when you are leaving your or your spouse’s group benefits and “that you can sign up for Part B anytime during the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first.”

Vic, you have waited too long to apply. During a Medicare consultation at the Toni Says® office, whether just laid off or retiring, we stress the value of getting Part B for the first time and that Medicare Part B needs to be enrolled in prior to either enrolling in COBRA or retirement group benefits.

Vic, you have waited past the 8-month window to apply for Medicare Part B because your last working day was in April 30, 2020. You thought that you were protected because of your employer group health plan and your severance retirement package.  You never dreamed that you were past your time window to enroll in Medicare Part B properly.

Now is your time for you and your wife to enroll in Medicare Part B during Medicare’s General Enrollment period which ends March 31. You need to contact your local Social Security office to enroll in Medicare Part B with CMS form 40-B with Medicare Part B beginning July 1 due to General Enrollment Period rules not April 1st which is date you want but do not qualify due to Medicare enrollment rules.

Below are Medicare Enrollment Periods:

  • General Enrollment Period: January 1-March 31 when one who has not enrolled in Part B and now can enroll in Medicare Part B. WILL receive a Part B penalty. Part B will begin July1.
  • Special Enrollment Period: Enroll after 65 when delaying Medicare Part B due to working full time with company benefits. This is an 8-month window of signing up for Part B without receiving a Part B penalty. (Need CMS form L-564 Request for Employment Information form signed by HR returned to Social Security with CMS form 40-B Application for Part B)
  • Medicare Initial Enrollment Period: Begins 3 months before turning 65, the month one turns 65 and 3 months after one turn 65.

Toni Says®: Many are not aware of the Medicare Part B and Part D monthly penalty or No Part B or Part D coverage and you will pay 100 percent for those benefits. Don’t wait!!

2021 Confused about Medicare Zoom webinar is Thursday, February 25 at 4 p.m. Visit www.tonisays.com to sign up for Toni’s new webinar event.

Toni King, Medicare author/advocate is giving a $5 discount to the Toni Says® readers on the new 2021 Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com. Have a Medicare question? Call 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com.