Q: I began coverage under Medicare two years ago. My wife just began coverage under Medicare this month. We received statements from Social Security for our 2011 benefits. My wife’s coverage is based partly on my entitlement and partly on some part-time work she has done over the years. Her deduction for Medicare medical is $110 and mine is $96. Why is hers so much higher than mine?
A: Because you were already enrolled in Medicare Part B and had those premium deductions taken from your Social Security benefit, you were protected by the “hold harmless” provision of the Social Security Act. Because you didn’t receive a cost-of-living adjustment in your Social Security benefit, your Part B premiums were frozen at the 2009 level. Your wife, on the other hand, was charged the 2010 premium rate because she enrolled in Part B on or after January 1, 2010. Because there won’t be any Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2011, neither of you will see an increase in your 2011 Part B premiums, as long as they continue to be taken out of your Social Security benefit payments.