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Savvy Senior: What to do about Medicare, Social Security when you move

Dear Savvy Senior: Next month, I am moving to a different state so I can be near my daughter and grandkids. Do I need to notify Social Security and Medicare about the move? — Relocating Grandma

Dear Relocating Grandma: Yes, if you’re a Social Security and Medicare recipient, you definitely need to let these federal agencies know when and where you move so there are no hiccups in your benefits or coverage. Here’s what you should know.

Updating your information

If you’re receiving Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, it’s required that you notify the Social Security Administration when you move to ensure your deposits continue and you avoid disruptions.

You’ll need to provide your new mailing address so they can deliver important documents to you such as your annual SSA-1099 tax form. And if you’re switching banks or credit unions, you’ll need to update your direct deposit information by providing your new financial institution’s routing number and account number.

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, they need your new mailing address as well.

You can update your Social Security and Medicare contact information online by using the My Profile tab in your My Social Security account at SSA.gov. If you don’t have an account, you can create one online for free in just a few minutes.

Or, if you need help or don’t have internet access, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office, and they will make the changes for you.

Private Medicare plans

If you’re enrolled in original Medicare, you can move anywhere within the United States without losing coverage. But if you have Part D prescription drug coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan from a private health insurance company and you move out of the plan’s service area, you’ll have to switch plans or you’ll face losing coverage.

Part D service areas typically are statewide or can extend to parts of neighboring states, while Medicare Advantage plans’ service areas vary by county.

Moving out of a plan’s service area qualifies you for a special enrollment period of at least two months to get a new plan. You may also qualify if you move within your plan’s service area and it offers options different from what you had. The enrollment timing depends on when you notify the plan.

If you tell your plan before you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month before you move and continues for two full months after you move. If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan and continues for two more full months.

To shop for new Part D and Advantage plans in your new area, use the Medicare Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/plan-compare.

You can also switch Part D or Advantage plans during open enrollment, which runs each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 for coverage starting Jan. 1.

Medigap plans

If you’re enrolled in original Medicare and have a Medigap supplemental policy you usually don’t have to switch plans if you move, but you do need to notify your provider. Some insurers let you keep the rate based on the state where you originally applied for Medigap. Others may change your premiums to coincide with their coverage in a different ZIP code.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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