Some people do not realize how closely related Social Security and Medicare are. They are separate, distinct programs that serve the older population and disabled individuals, but they have one commonality. Social Security is involved in Medicare enrollment.
Medicare Enrollment through Social Security
The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) work together to help educate older adults about their Medicare enrollment. This includes education about the enrollment process, processing the applications, and collecting the premiums for Medicare Parts A and B.
If an individual is already receiving Social Security retirement benefits prior to age 65, the SSA will send them a “Welcome to Medicare” package at the beginning of their Initial Enrollment Period. This enrollment period begins three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday. On the day of your 65th birthday, the SSA will automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B – Original Medicare. Again, this automatic enrollment only applies if you have been receiving Social Security retirement benefits.
Individuals younger than 65 who have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for 24 months are also eligible for Medicare benefits. Enrollment will happen automatically on the 25th month of disability.
Individuals who wish to opt-out of Medicare Part B may do so. (Medicare Part A is usually premium-free, so there is no reason to opt-out of Part A. Part B, on the other hand, does have a monthly premium.) Individuals will need to have other creditable health coverage in order to delay Part B enrollment without incurring penalties.
If you are not receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you must apply for Medicare yourself. Again, you may do this during your Initial Enrollment Period. As we mentioned, this begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and then ends three months after your 65th birthday. This is a total of seven months. You can enroll online via SSA.gov, in-person at your local Social Security office, or over the phone by calling the Social Security Administration directly.
Paying Medicare Premiums through Social Security
If you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits and have enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you will owe a monthly premium for Part B. This premium will be deducted from your monthly Social Security payments.
If you are not drawing Social Security retirement benefits, you will receive a bill from CMS. In 2021, the Part B standard premium was $148.50. This premium typically increases each year due to inflation and the rising cost of healthcare.
Part B premiums are higher for individuals with high incomes. The Social Security Administration decides your premium based on your adjusted gross income from your tax return two years prior. Individuals with incomes higher than $88,000 or couples with combined incomes of more than $176,000 will pay higher premiums.
If you elect to enroll in Part D prescription drug plan or a Part C Medicare Advantage plan, you may also have these premiums deducted from your monthly Social Security retirement benefits.
My Social Security Account for Medicare Beneficiaries
If you have to enroll in Medicare on your own and you’d like to do it online, you will need a “my Social Security” account. You can create one of these accounts at SSA.gov, but it will require that you know some of your personal information and history, so make sure you have important documents handy when you create your account.
Once you have a Social Security account, you’ll be able to apply for Medicare and also check the status of your Medicare application. This account may also be useful if you’d like to look at your Social Security benefits or if you need to change the direct deposit information of your retirement benefits.
Need help deciding if it’s time to enroll in Medicare? Give our office a call today! We have qualified Medicare agents that can assist you as you begin your journey into Medicare.