Social Security

Enrolling in Social Security

Social Security through ssa.gov helps you prepare for retirement (beginning to collect Social Security), by providing the information you need to make an informed decision.  Social Security’s website offers tools that make you aware of the possibilities available:

Medicare

Medicare is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Social Security works with CMS by enrolling people in Medicare.  The Medicare section of the Social Security Administration website provides information about the Medicare program and answers general questions on Medicare and applying for Medicare.

Medicare has four parts:

When applying for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). If you decide to delay enrolling in Part B, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it (unless you qualify for a special enrollment period). If you’re eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period ”from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll.

New Medicare Cards Start Mailing in April 2018

Beginning in April 2018, CMS will start mailing out new and improved Medicare cards  With these new cards, the Medicare Claim Number is no longer based on the beneficiary’s Social Security number. It will be a randomly-generated series of 11 letters and numbers. The goal is to make seniors less vulnerable to identity theft.

This is an example of what your new card will look like:

Social Security Card

See the chart below to determine mail delivery. For more information on the new Medicare card changes, visit Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or Medicare.gov.

New Medicare Card Mailing Schedule

Medicare Mailing Graph
 

Watch out for scams

Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.  Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card.  If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up.

 

MEDICARE AND THE NEW YORK STATE HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM (NYSHIP)

Medicare and NYSHIP

Upon turning 65, Medicare is primary to NYSHIP for you or your covered dependent(s) who are eligible to enroll in Medicare. NYSHIP requires you and your eligible covered dependents to be enrolled in Medicare when it is primary to NYSHIP.

It is YOUR responsibility to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when first eligible for primary Medicare coverage. Enrollment is not automatic in all cases.

The New York State Department of Civil Service Employee Benefits Division sends out a reminder to help you understand the importance of enrolling in Medicare, i.e.; a Happy 65th Birthday Letter approximately five months before you or a spouse/domestic partner turns 65, whether you are active or retired which includes a brochure/DVD entitled Medicare and NYSHIP.

New York State Health Insurance Program Medicare Part B Differential Reimbursement

In December 2016, NYSHIP sent out a letter notifying enrollees/dependents about the Medicare Part B reimbursement for 2017 and that NYSHIP was unable to reimburse the exact Medicare Part B standard premium since they did not have access to the exact amount an enrollee/dependent was paying for the Medicare Part B premium (there were approximately 80 different rates).  The proliferation of rates was created by the fact that the 2017 Social Security COLA was such an odd number: 0.3%.

To deal with this very unusual circumstance, NYSHIP lumped the 2017 basic premium reimbursements into three distinct categories pertaining to your Social Security as follows:

Regardless of your enrollment date, ALL IRMAA enrollees should have been charged the $134 basic premium.  It is possible that if your Medicare basic premium in 2017 was $134 due to IRMAA, you may have actually been reimbursed by NYSHIP at one of the lower amounts.  The $134 basic premium was deducted from your Social Security check, but NYSHIP remained unaware of that, hence the shortfall in the reimbursement.

RPEA has recently been informed that when NYSHIP processes your 2017 IRMAA application, they are now updating this information and issuing the Medicare differential reimbursement as a lump sum payment either in your pension check or as a refund.  State retirees who are owed a substantial refund due to the update of the Medicare Part B premium amount, you will receive a Medicare credit of $500 (the maximum amount authorized by regulation) in your pension check and the remainder of your refund will be sent to you in a separate check approximately six to eight weeks after the initial pension check credit.  NYSHIP will send a letter when the refund is processed.  If you have any questions regarding your Medicare Part B premium reimbursement, you should call the Employee Benefits Division of the New York State Department of Civil Service at 1-800-833-4344.

Furthermore, NYSHIP is still seeking to obtain a data share agreement with Social Security wherein they will be able to see the exact amount an enrollee/dependent is paying for the Medicare Part B premium so that records can be adjusted accordingly.

To prevent his from happening again, NYSHIP has decided to reimburse EVERYONE at the $134 rate effective, January 1, 2018.  As noted in their December 2017 letter, if you are overpaid, they retain the right to ask for a refund at a later date, which would be an offset against future payments.

IRMAA (Income Monthly Related Adjustment Amount)

 Earlier this year, the NYSHIP sent out a notice regarding the reimbursement of the 2016 Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).  IRMAA for 2016 is assessed by Medicare to individual income tax filers with MAGI of more than $85,000 per year and married income tax filers with MAGI of more than $170,000 per year.  Any enrollee and their covered dependent(s) who were subject to a higher Medicare Part B premium due to IRMAA in 2016 are eligible to be reimbursed by the NYSHIP for any additional IRMAA premium paid for 2016 over the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium.  If you did not receive the letter and the letter and the reimbursement application, you can visit the Department of Civil Service website at www.cs.ny.gov to download the form and submit it to the NYSHIP.

Retirees of Participating Agencies enrolled in the NYSHIP

Under NYSHIP rules, your former employer must reimburse you and/or your Medicare primary dependent the standard Medicare Part B premium and any IRMAA you must pay for Part B.  Medicare reimbursement practices vary from employer to employer.  Check with your former employer to find out how it handles the Medicare Part B reimbursement and IRMAA, and to determine if you are eligible for a premium differential payment.