Questions about the Medicare Eligibility Age?
We are headed into the Christmas Season and all the joys and emotions of the season. The kids have holiday programs at school and your husband has the annual work Christmas party. Life is busy and now dad has decided he has had enough of work and finally, at age 68; he is going to retire the first of the year. Now, the questions come up: what happens with his group health insurance? Does he need to talk with anyone concerning his Medicare coverage? Does he need to make any changes? What should he do; and he has asked you to help get these answers. Life today is active, especially for women aged 45 – 55 who care for both their parents and children.
These are the people caught in the “sandwich generation”. Depending upon Dad’s group plan and size of company there may be an issue here. He may have waived Part B, the medical coverage of Medicare, when he decided to work past age 65.
Look at his Medicare ID card and see if Part B has an effective date. If not, he will need to talk with the Social Security office, within 30 days of retirement, and ask for form 40B. (The closer to 30 days, the better) This form will allow him to gain Medicare Part B coverage the first day of the month following the loss of his group plan (if this form is filed timely). The goal is to show that dad had creditable coverage after age 65 and therefore, he would not be penalized for not having coverage during that time period.
Form 40B will need to be completed and signed by the company were dad works and returned to the Social Security office. Dad will also need a letter from his company stating that he has worked and been covered by their group health plans since date ____ until date of retirement ____. Then dad will have a multitude of options: he can, most likely, continue COBRA, or have guaranteed enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or apply for a Medicare Supplement, and a MedicareRX Plan as long as it is done within 63 days of loss of coverage.
So, this whole issue can be complicated. Be sure to keep copies of all completed forms. Like most insurance issues, it is best to secure the help of a well qualified, insurance professional who specializes with Medicare plans. It is of utmost importance that dad handles the Medicare and Social Security process correctly and gets the appropriate help from Social Security as needed.
Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis.