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How to Apply for Social Security Benefits

Wondering how to apply for Social Security benefits? There are three ways. One is preferred; others may be necessary depending on your case.

ABC’s of Medigap Policies

Get to know the ABC’s of Medigap insurance coverage. Also known as Medicare Supplement coverage, this is an important part of your coverage.

Medicare is Not Automatic

Enrollment in Medicare is not automatic, unless you are actively receiving Social Security benefits. If you miss the enrollment window, you’ll be penalized.

What’s Up With Medicare Premiums? How Increases Are Determined

How are Medicare premiums determined each year? Sometimes there is an increase, and other times there’s not (at least for some).

Medigap Plan C and Plan F are going away

If you first become eligible for Medicare in 2020 or later, you will not be allowed to purchase a Medigap Plan C or Plan F.

Changes to IRMAA for 2019

There are changes to IRMAA for 2019 that will affect your Medicare Part B premium. A new premium adjustment applies when incomes reach higher levels.

Medicare and Social Security Ages Decoupled

It used to be that Social Security and Medicare both came to you at 65. Changes to the system have decoupled these two programs.

Medicare Enrollment Periods

Do you completely understand the Medicare enrollment periods? If so, you’re among the minority. This article is a quick reference for you.

IRMAA for Medicare

If you know someone named Irma, don’t hold this against her. IRMAA (subtle difference) can be a real nasty surprise for many Medicare Part B & D enrollees.

Deductible and Coinsurance for Medicare Part B

The deductible and coinsurance for Medicare Part B can become very costly if you don’t have a means to cover it by a Medigap policy.

Deductible and Coinsurance for Medicare Part A

Understanding the deductible and coinsurance for Medicare Part A is important so that you can use this information to plan your medical expenses.

Medicare Late Enrollment Penalty

A late enrollment penalty can apply to your future Medicare premiums if you have failed to enroll during the initial enrollment period.

Medicare Enrollment

Chances are, Medicare enrollment rules are a mystery to you – they’re pretty complicated. This article is a primer on the important points you need to know.

Do you need a Medicare plan?

It’s not the cut-and-dried standard insurance that you think it is. Included here is an outline of the factors to include in your Medicare plan.

Medicare Premium Part B Premium Increase for 2016

Note: these numbers have been finalized for 2016 at slightly less than originally reported. Apologies for any confusion. As we discussed in a previous post, with the lack of a Cost of Living Adjustment coming for Social Security recipients benefits in 2016, for most Medicare Part B participants the premium will remain unchanged at $104.90 in 2016.  However, approximately 30% of Part B participants will see an increase to their premium for 2016 – and originally this amount was going to be a 52% increase. Lost in all of the hullabaloo around the elimination of File & Suspend, a part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 helped to reduce that increase, which will be “only” 16% for 2016. Instead of increasing to nearly $160 per month, the Medicare Part B premium will only increase to $121.80 per month for most of those affected. This change was taken care of in […]

Social Security Trustees Report – 2015

Every year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds release reports to Congress on the current financial condition and projected financial outlook of these programs. The 2015 reports, released on July 22, 2015, show that, despite some encouraging signs, both programs continue to face financial challenges that should be addressed as soon as possible, with the Disability Insurance Trust Fund needing the most urgent attention. What are the Social Security trust funds? The Social Security program consists of two parts. Retired workers, their families, and survivors of workers receive monthly benefits under the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program; disabled workers and their families receive monthly benefits under the Disability Insurance (DI) program. The combined programs are referred to as OASDI. Each program has a financial account (a trust fund) that holds the Social Security payroll taxes that are collected to pay Social Security benefits. Other income […]

Why You Should Consider Long Term Care Insurance

Long term care insurance is insurance that will pay in the event that an individual needs caregiving due to a number of afflictions or diseases. For example, if an individual is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia they made needs round the clock care. Generally, that care is provided by family members, with the majority of caregivers being daughters and spouses of caregiver. The costs for needing long term care can be expensive. Depending on the area of the country, care can range from $50,000 to $80,000 per year to stay in a nursing home and may run in the range of $20 to $30 per hour for care outside of the home. Based on the numbers above, long term care expenses can quickly drain an individual’s retirement savings, or other assets that were planned for other uses.

File For Part B Medicare – COBRA Isn’t Enough

For most folks, when you reach age 65 and have ceased regular work, filing for Medicare Parts A & B is an automatic thing. If you don’t file during the 3 months before or after your 65th birthday, you may have penalties to pay. This applies even if you have recently been laid off of work and are covered for health insurance under a COBRA plan. Part A carries no cost if you’re fully covered (40 quarters of coverage), but Part B requires a monthly premium. When laid off from an employer who has provided health insurance coverage to you while employed, you have the option of continuing the health coverage for a period of time, up to two years. This continuation of coverage is called COBRA, named for the law that put it into place (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). You have to file in a timely manner for […]

Net Unrealized Appreciation is not subject to the 3.8% surtax

When you take advantage of the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) treatment for stocks transferred from your employer retirement plan, you need to fully understand the tax treatment both when you transfer the stocks and when you eventually sell the stock. Stock that you’ve chosen to treat with NUA tax treatment has three potential tax components – The basis of the stock – this is the original purchase cost of the stock, which is subject to ordinary income tax the year when you transfer the stock from the employer’s plan into your brokerage account. The Net Unrealized Appreciation – this is the difference in the total value of the stock minus the basis (from #1 above) on the date that you transfer it from your employer’s plan. This amount is not taxable until you sell the stock, and then it is taxed at long-term capital gains rates, no matter how long […]

Medicare Part B and D Premiums for 2014

Even though other retirement-related items increased for 2014, such as the taxable income limit for Social Security tax ($117,000, up $3,300), the earnings limits for pre-Full Retirement Age Social Security benefits ($15,480 before FRA year, $41,400 during FRA year), and the COLA for Social Security benefits (+1.5%), the premium for Medicare Part B coverage remained the same for 2014, at $104.90 per month. However, if your income in 2012 was above $85,000 for single filers or $170,000 for married filers, you will have to pay more for your Medicare Part B insurance, but it’s the same increase as in 2013.  Medicare Part D coverage for upper income folks will rise slightly.  The maximum increase for both Part B and Part D tops out at $300.10 per month, for a total premium of $405 per month. This income amount is actually your Modified Adjusted Gross Income, which is equal to your […]