Q: I am working full time as a Coast Guard civilian. I have Mail Handler’s self-only medical insurance, but I am also covered by my wife’s medical insurance, which is what I really use. Her provider sent me a letter informing me that because she is retired and I’m turning 65 on April 28 that I need to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B to continue my coverage through them. I signed up with her insurance company as a single member and my wife changed her plan. Her former employer and her annuity will continue to pay for our premiums. So, did I really need to sign up for Medicare Part B at this time? I have never used my Mail Handlers plan, nor do I intend to start. I plan to retire next year with more than 42 years of federal service.
My other question is, how do I pay for Part B? I have 40 credits with Social Security even though I am a Civil Service Retirement System employee. I worked a part-time job for more than 10 years during the early stages of my federal career. Should I wait until age 66 to start claiming Social Security or start now (to pay for Medicare Part B)?
A: I’m not qualified to answer questions about nonfederal benefits. I can tell you that if you are still working when you turn 65, you can delay enrolling in Medicare Part B without incurring any penalty. However, if you delay after retiring, you premium will be 10 percent higher for each 12-month period that you could have been enrolled and didn’t. Premiums for Part B can be deducted from your Social Security benefit if it is sufficient to cover them. If not, you can pay them directly. Note: Because you will be receiving an annuity from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, you will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. As a result, any Social Security benefit to which you are entitled will be reduced if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.