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How to enroll in Medicare after being laid off

Dear Toni: My husband, Steven, has been laid off from a company he worked with for over 20 years. His employer is downsizing, and May 31 will be his last day.

Steve is 68, enrolled in Medicare Part A but never enrolled in Part B because he had employer benefits. He is stressed, wondering how to apply for Part B properly to avoid receiving a penalty. I am turning 65 in September and also will need to enroll in Medicare.

Please explain what our enrollment options are since we are different ages and have different situations. — Patti, Midland, Texas

Dear Patti: There are two rules regarding enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B that apply to your household, and I will keep the process for you simple.

Here are the Medicare enrollment rules:

Past 65, leaving employer benefits and the simple way to enroll in Medicare Part B: Steve needs to apply for a special enrollment period by downloading the forms CMS-L564 (Request for Employment Information) and CMS-40B (Application for Enrollment in Medicare — Part B) from SSA.gov/forms. Have Steve’s human resources department sign off on the CMS-L564 form and attach it to CMS-40B. Under the remarks section on the CMS-40B, write the month when Part B coverage should begin. (Steve’s start is June 1.)

File both forms with the local Social Security office. Advise the representative that Steve is losing his company benefits and needs his Part B to begin June 1 since his last day of employment is May 31. (Make copies of every document given and received from the Social Security office.)

Turning 65, not receiving your Social Security check, and enrolling in Medicare: Patti, your way of enrolling in Medicare is simple and quite different from Steve’s because you are turning 65 in September. Go to SSA.gov to sign up at least 90 days before you turn 65 and apply for a Sept. 1 effective date.

Turning 65 and already receiving your Social Security check: Your “Welcome to Medicare” kit with your Medicare card will arrive by mail 90 days before your 65th birthday.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.

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