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Cradle Robber Can Get Medicare From Younger Husband
Q: I robbed the cradle and married a guy three years younger than me. This may be coming back to haunt me! I will be 65 this December. And he won't be 65 until December 2013. He is still working and doesn't plan to apply for Social Security until he is age 66. I have never worked outside the home and was planning to get Social Security on my husband's record once he files for Social Security himself.
But lately I've been worried about Medicare. Can he give me some of his Social Security credits so I can receive Medicare? If not, can I buy those credits? Someone else told me that I can buy Medicare coverage directly when I turn 65. Or if none of those plans work, do I have to wait several years until my husband is 66 to obtain Medicare on his record?
A: Before I answer your questions (and I've got some good news coming for you), I've got to give some background information to help you and my other readers understand the eligibility rules for Medicare.
There are two basic parts to Medicare. Part A provides coverage of in-patient hospital bills. It's paid for by Medicare taxes deducted from your paycheck when you are working. And just like Social Security coverage, you usually need 10 years of work and tax payments to qualify for Medicare Part A. If a person hasn't worked long enough to be insured, he or she could get Part A on a spouse's record IF the spouse is eligible for Social Security. And if a person doesn't qualify for free Part A coverage in one of the ways I just described, anyone 65 or older can buy Medicare hospital insurance. But the premiums can be rather steep, running as high as $461 per month.
Part B of Medicare, which covers doctor's visit, lab fees and other medical expenses, is not covered by Medicare taxes. It's paid by monthly premiums that are either deducted from your Social Security checks or billed quarterly if you're not getting Social Security. The premium is currently $110.40 per month for most people. So once we get you free Part A coverage (I said the good news is coming), you'll still have to buy Part B Medicare.
Now to answer your questions. No, your husband can't transfer some of his Social Security credits to your record in order to make you eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
Why? Because here is your good news. You will be eligible for free Part A Medicare coverage on your husband's record, even though he is not yet getting Social Security and Medicare himself. The key point is that he is old enough for Social Security. Because he will technically be eligible for benefits in December (by turning age 62), you can file for Medicare on his record at the same time. It's a good thing you didn't really rob the cradle like my wife did. I'm five years younger than her, so when she turned 65, she couldn't get Medicare on my record because I was only 60 and not old enough for Social Security.
And here is some bonus good news. You might be able to save yourself $110.40 each month by declining Medicare Part B coverage. The law says that if your husband is working and if you are covered by his employer's health insurance, then you don't need to take Part B at this time. Later, after he retires, you will have to take Part B, but you won't have to pay any late enrollment penalties.
A few years ago when I still worked for the Social Security Administration, your husband would have been required to actually file a claim for Social Security benefits. And you would file for spousal benefits on his record. Then your claims for cash benefits would be put in suspense because he is working and not due monthly Social Security checks yet. But just the fact that you both would have been on the Social Security rolls would have made you eligible for free Part A Medicare at 65.
However, I was recently talking to a former SSA colleague who still works for the agency. And he told me they changed the rules and you are no longer required to actually file a claim for Social Security benefits. Apparently, now they just push a few buttons that fool the computers into thinking you're eligible for Social Security on your husband's record. And that gets you the Medicare coverage you need.
So, call SSA's toll-free number at 800-772-1213 and make an appointment to get those buttons pushed!
If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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