UNITED STATES—Toni: Five years ago, when I was laid off, I enrolled in Medicare Parts A&B when I turned 65 in August. By November, I found a new job with benefits and terminated my Medicare Part B. In October of 2023 I finally retired. After filing my Social Security forms, I discovered that I was denied enrollment because I had a past due bill of $405 from when I was enrolled in Medicare Part B, which was never paid.

Please alert your Medicare column readers about terminating Medicare Part B and what happens when you do not pay the Medicare Part B premium. Enrolling in Medicare will be put on hold. I do not remember ever receiving a bill from Medicare. My Medicare Part B is being issued February 1 and I will be having a “famous” Medicare Part B and D penalty.

I hope to help Americans understand Medicare issues that can affect them when enrolling in Medicare past 65. Thanks, Toni. – – Greg from Spring, TX.

Greg: I am sure that the Medicare stress you are experiencing is overwhelming. Medicare does allow those turning 65 with employer benefits to delay Medicare Part B enrollment without a penalty when you want to enroll in Medicare later. Delaying Medicare does require having employer group health coverage from you or your spouse’s employment.

Readers, if you find yourself in Greg’s situation, Social Security should interview you to terminate Medicare Parts A and/or B by phone or by visiting your local Social Security office. Tell the representative that you need to terminate your Medicare since you are covered by employer’s group health coverage and made a mistake by enrolling in Medicare. You will need to file Social Security form CMS-1763 “Request to Terminate Medicare Part A (hospital) or Part B (medical)”. (*Remember: When mailing forms to Social Security to always make copies, and always send them via priority mail and ask that you can receive a signed copy when received with return receipt.)

While talking with the Social Security agent from either your local office or Social Security’s main office # 1/800-772-1213, ask the agent to view your Social Security account and verify whether you owe any back Medicare Part B or D premiums. Be sure to pay off the past due premiums. No one wants to experience what Greg did by not knowing that there is a past due Medicare premium.

Here are Medicare enrollment situations that DO matter:

  • A Working Spouse: If the working spouse is providing health insurance benefits from their current employment group health coverage, then you may want to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B. You may continue to work either part-time or as a self-employed individual while taking advantage of the coverage provided by your working spouse.
  • Self-Employed:  If you are turning 65, not covered under an employer’s group health plan and waited to enroll in Medicare Part B, then you can receive a 10% penalty for each 12-month period that you were not enrolled in Part B when turning 65.
  • Past 65 and “still working”: Verify with your (or your spouse’s) employer’s HR department if you should delay enrolling in Part B because you (or your spouse) are “still working” and are on an employer group health plan. As soon as you will are no longer covered by an employer group health plan, have the HR department fill out and sign Social Security form CMS-L564 “Request for Employment Information” and you fill out and sign, CMS-40B “Application for Medicare Part B. Contact your local Social Security office to file both forms to justify your delay in enrollment in Medicare and avoid needless penalties.

Remember with Medicare it’s What you DON’T know that will hurt you! Email your Medicare questions to info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.