Your Social Security Advisor

I Need Guidance on Social Security and Medicare – Ask Rusty

dreaded irmaa provision file benefit social security benefitsDear Rusty: I am turning 67 in October and as of today am still employed full time. I really do not plan on retiring unless I am forced to. But how do I arrange my Social Security and Medical care stuff. It seems this subject is like a color, and everyone has a different color they like. Is there any way for me to figure this out with help or on my own? I could really use some guidance. Signed: Perplexed

Dear Perplexed: Okay, let’s look at your Social Security and your Medicare separately, because they’re two totally independent programs.

You do not need to do anything about Social Security until you are ready to start collecting your benefits. Since you have already reached your full retirement age (FRA) of 66, you are now earning Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) at the rate of .667% per month. That means that your benefit in October, if you were to claim it then, would be 8% more than it would have been at age 66. If you continue to delay applying for SS benefits, you will continue to earn those DRCs up to age 70, when your benefit amount would be 32% more than it would have been at your FRA. The choice of when to claim your Social Security is yours to make, considering your need for the money, your health, and your expected longevity. The longer you wait (up to 70) the more your benefit will be, and if you expect at least average longevity (about 84 for a man your current age) then you’ll get both a higher benefit amount and more in cumulative lifetime benefits by waiting to claim your Social Security.

As for Medicare, if you are now covered by your employer’s “creditable” healthcare plan, you can delay enrolling in Medicare until your current employer coverage ends (when you stop working). “Creditable” is a group plan with more than 20 participants. If you now have “creditable” employer healthcare coverage (including drug coverage) you won’t be liable for a Late Enrollment Penalty for enrolling in Medicare (or a drug plan) later. If you are still working and know your creditable employer coverage will end soon, you can enroll for Medicare benefits to start coincident with the end of your employer coverage. Or, after you stop working, you can enroll in Medicare during a “Special Enrollment Period” (or “SEP” for those transitioning from employer coverage to Medicare coverage). Your SEP for Medicare will last for 8 months after you stop working, but you only have 63 days after the end of your employer drug coverage to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan.

The bottom line is this – you don’t need to enroll in Medicare until your creditable employer healthcare coverage ends. And you don’t need to apply for Social Security until you wish to start receiving benefits (just don’t wait beyond 70).

One final point because you were born in 1953: if you are now married and your wife is already collecting her SS, you can file a “restricted application for spouse benefits only” and collect only a spouse benefit from your wife, while still allowing your own benefit to continue to grow until you are 70. But this option is only available to you because you were born before January 2, 1954.

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at [email protected].


If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

While I was still working, I wasn’t told whether my insurance was “creditable” employer health care coverage, and was told that I “must” file for Medicare benefits in this state before turning 65. My employer told me that I could not remain covered by company insurance if I was eligible for Medicare. Apparently, it’s a state-by-state regulation…or my employer preferred it that way.

But before that, I had read that we should file for Medicare a few months before turning 65. For those filing late and wanting to be covered by Medicare, the premium would be higher for the rest of their lives. True, this is separate from when to begin collecting Social Security. There are insurance agents that will help us figure out which plan is best, and they administer the policies at no charge (to us).

So, to avoid the higher premium, wouldn’t you recommend that we file for Medicare within 3 months before turning 65? Might as well apply for it, get it on record, and then decide whether to start paying for Medicare or to keep company insurance, if you can. Assuming your company’s insurance is “creditable” could cost you.

Dan W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Kim

I will be interested in Rusty’s replies to your questions.

I am not aware of any state requirements impacting Medicare filing. Maybe your employer’s plan had less than 20 participants or maybe your employer simply wanted your liability off of the company’s books.

I think that some people with creditable coverage still file for Medicare Part A when they turn 65 since the premium for Part A is $0.00. Otherwise, it seems logical to keep your creditable employer coverage unless your monthly premiums with your employer were higher than the monthly Part B and Part D premiums.

1 year ago
Reply to  Dan W.

When I was at that job, before turning 65, I was hospitalized for 3 days. The policy, the best the employer said she could find for 50 employees, had a $7300 deductible, thanks to the ACA, she said. So, I paid it out of pocket, and the insurance company paid the rest.

The boss told me that state law said I had to take Medicare, and a follow-up call to some agency confirmed it. Maybe it’s different now. After leaving, though, a few of us former coworkers came to doubt some of what we were told.

In any case, I encourage everyone approaching 65 to check in with Social Security/Medicare to avoid those higher premiums. That doesn’t obligate you to start taking the benefits, though.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x