Insurance and Medicare Part B


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.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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