As individuals retire or age into Medicare, their insurance situation can change dramatically. There are a multitude of options open to those with Medicare. The terms are different, the prices are different, the products offered are dramatically different each year.
The purpose of this column is to give those who are eligible for Medicare, or soon to be eligible for Medicare, some understanding of their insurance options and how it could impact their health and finances.
These questions and answers are meant as a guide to help you understand the complex questions you are now thinking about. Each individual's specific situation may create a different solution. You shouldn't necessarily do what your friends, family and neighbors do.
Q: I am signing up for Social Security and wonder when I will receive my monthly checks?
A: Signing up for Social Security for most of us happens on or after turning 62. You may be eligible to receive early retirement benefits at age 62. If you begin drawing Social Security at this time, your monthly payment will be less than if you wait until later. There are also earning limits that may apply to you, and that will impact how much Social Security benefits you are eligible to receive.
Here is the information I copied from the www.SSA.gov website on earning and collecting Social Security benefits in 2013.
If you are under full retirement age, the earnings limit for workers will be $15,120. SSA will deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $15,120.
In the year you reach full retirement age, the earning limit for people turning 66 in 2013 will be $40,080. SSA will deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $40,080 until the month the worker turns age 66.
The month you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on earnings for workers who are full retirement age or older for the entire year.
Caution: If you apply for benefits more than six months after you reach full retirement age, SSA can only pay the benefits for the previous six months.
This information illustrates that there may or may not be a financial benefit to collecting Social Security before your full retirement age of 66. For some individuals eligible for Social Security who are working part time or at a lower wage, you may benefit significantly if you begin taking Social Security retirement benefits early.
Your question may have been directed at the date you would receive benefits, not the year you could receive benefits. In that case, this next section will address your question.
Most of us know that Social Security payments are no longer all issued on the third of the month. Many older seniors continue to get their check on the third, but those newly signing up with Social Security receive their checks based on their birthday.
Individuals who signed up for Social Security prior to May of 1997 receive their benefits amounts on the 3rd of the month and will continue to do so. For individuals who signed up after that time, or sign up in the future, their payment date is based on the date of their birthday. If their birthday is the 1st to the 10th, they receive their benefits on the second Wednesday; for the 11th to the 20th they receive their benefits on the third Wednesday; for the 21st to the 31st they receive their benefits on the fourth Wednesday.
This allows for SSA to spread out those payments throughout the month. It also spreads out the workload for our economy.
I can remember not too long ago that going to any bank or store on the 3rd, 4th or 5th of the month could be pretty hectic. By spreading the payments out throughout the month it spreads out the spending and the banking throughout the month.
If you want further information on this or any topic relating to Social Security you can do so at any time by contacting SSA either at the website, www.SSA.gov or the toll free national number of 1-800-772-1213 or the local SSA office at 321 Hazeltine Ave. Jamestown. Their number is 1-877-319-3079. The Dunkirk SSA office is at 437 Main St. Suite 2 Dunkirk. Their number is 1-888-862-2139.
Janell Sluga is a geriatric care manager certified and works for Senior Life Matters, a program of Lutheran Senior Housing, and has worked in Chautauqua County with seniors for more than 18 years. She is HIICAP (Health Insurance Information, Counseling & Assistance Program) counselor-trained by Office for the Aging. She does not sell insurance or represent any insurance company. She is an unbiased source of insurance and education to help seniors choose the best option for them.