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Turning 65 with questions, confusion about Medicare

Dear Toni: I am turning 65 in July and am being bombarded with mail and telemarketing calls. I am not receiving Social Security — do I have to be in order to get Medicare?

I was waiting to apply for Social Security until I can receive 100 percent of my benefits. Currently, I have an individual health plan with a $6,000 deductible, so having Medicare benefits would be a blessing. — Joan from Phoenix

Dear Joan: Enrolling in Medicare can be very confusing. Most people think that when they turn 65, a magical switch flips on and — poof! — they are on Medicare.

But Medicare does not enroll you — Social Security is the government agency that enrolls America into Medicare.

Let’s discuss how to take your Medicare at the right time:

Situation 1

Turning 65 and receiving your Social Security check: This is the simplest way to receive your Medicare card. Social Security will notify Medicare that you have turned 65. Medicare will send your “Welcome to Medicare” kit, including your Medicare card, 90 days before your birthday.

Situation 2

Turning 65 and still working: Talk to your employer’s human resources department. Ask if you need to enroll in Part B. If you do not need Part B because you are still working, or your spouse is, and you have health benefits, you may want to delay your Part B. You may want to enroll in Part A (hospital coverage).

Situation 3

Turning 65 and not receiving your Social Security check, without employer’s health benefits: Individuals approaching 65 under these circumstances need to initiate their own enrollment online at SSA.gov. It’s a good idea to open a Social Security account well before you turn 65.

Joan, this is your Medicare situation, because you want to enroll in Medicare and are waiting past 65 to receive 100 percent of your Social Security.

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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