By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those with disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure.
If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who has been informed that you must pay more for your Medicare Part B or Medicare prescription drug coverage premium because of your income, and you disagree with the decision that you need to pay a higher premium amount, you may request an appeal. The fastest and easiest way to file an appeal of your decision is by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal.
You can file online and provide documents electronically to support your appeal. You can also file an appeal online even if you live outside of the United States. You may also request an appeal in writing by completing a Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561-U2) at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa-561.html.
If you don’t have access to the internet, you can request a copy of the form by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Learn more by reading our publication “Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10536.pdf.
Know someone who hasn’t signed up for Medicare yet? They can use our online Medicare application if they:
• Are at least 64 years and 9 months old;
• Want to sign up for Medicare but do not currently have any Medicare coverage;
• Do not want to start receiving Social Security benefits at this time; and
• Are not currently receiving Social Security retirement, disability, or survivors benefits.
Remind them that they should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65, even if they are not ready to start receiving retirement benefits. They can opt out of beginning to receive retirement benefits now once they are in the online application. Then they can apply online for retirement benefits later.
You can learn all you need to know at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare and easily share these resources with family and friends.
Q: Are Social Security numbers reassigned after a person dies?
A: No. We do not reassign Social Security numbers. In all, we have assigned more than 460 million Social Security numbers. Each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. There are over one billion combinations of the nine-digit Social Security number. As a result, the current system has enough new numbers to last for several more generations.
Q: Is it true I can save about $4,900 per year if I qualify for Social Security’s “Extra Help” with the Medicare prescription drug program?
A: Yes. If your income and resources meet the requirements, you can save nearly $4,900 in prescription costs each year. Resource limits for 2018 are $14,100 (or $28,150 if you are married and living with your spouse). Income limits are $18,210 (or $24,690 if you are married and living with your spouse). If your income or resources are just a bit higher, you might be eligible for some help with prescription drug costs. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
Q: My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?
A: No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. Keep in mind that you are still subject to the annual earnings limit if you are working. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication “Survivors Benefits” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: I got married and I need to change my name in Social Security’s records. What do I do?
A: If you change your name due to marriage, or for any other reason, you’ll need to report the change and get a corrected Social Security card with your new name. You will need to fill out form SS-5. You can get a copy of this form by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc or by calling our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You’ll also need to provide the original marriage certificate showing your new and old names. You can mail or take the documentation to your local Social Security office. In some cases, we may need other forms of documentation as well. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.