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Confused over Medicare’s turning 65 rule?

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Toni,

My issue regarding how to enroll in Medicare is different from any enrollment problem that I have read in the Toni Says Medicare column. I understand from an email a friend received from Medicare.gov last year that there are new “turning 65” enrollment rules in Medicare.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and turn 65 on February 20. I need my Medicare to begin May 1 because my husband is retiring and losing his company benefits as of that date.

I am a non-working spouse due to my health issues and do not have enough work quarters to receive Medicare on my own. I do not know how to apply using my husband’s Medicare benefits. What do I do?

--Heather from Nashville, Tenn.

Hi Heather:

 

It is very important for you to enroll in Medicare correctly since you are short of the 40 quarters of working and paying taxes to qualify under your Social Security number. For your Medicare, you will have to qualify under your husband’s Social Security number (if he has the 40 quarters to qualify).

Call your local Social Security office (or the main Social Security office at 800-772-1213) to arrange an appointment, either over the phone or in-person, and ask how to apply under your husband’s work record. You will need an “original” certified marriage license to show Social Security that you are currently married.

Prior to talking with a Social Security representative, set up a www.ssa.gov account. Social Security may want you to enroll in Medicare online by visiting www.ssa.gov/medicare/sign-up when talking with the representative who is guiding you through this process. Heather, with you being short 40 work quarters, the process is a little bit more complicated than for someone using their own benefits.

The changes that your friend mentioned regarding enrolling in Medicare when turning 65 began January 1, 2023. Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period is the 7-month period which occurs 3 months before turning 65, the month you turn 65 and 3 months after turning 65. (Chapter 1 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition explains enrolling in Medicare in detail.)

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