Janie Slaven: TONI SAYS: How can I stop my Medicare Part B?

Jan. 25—Toni:

I have just enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B because I turned 65 in January. I am currently working, with my husband and myself covered under my employer plan.

I am being charged a much higher premium for Medicare because our 2021 tax return showed higher earnings. Can you please explain what one turning 65 with employer benefits should do? I made a big mistake enrolling in Medicare and working with employer benefits, and I need assistance to stop my Medicare Part B. Thanks.

—Tammy from Sugar Land, Texas


I have good news for you because Medicare does allow those turning 65 with employer benefits to delay Medicare Part B enrollment without a penalty when you want to enroll in Medicare later. Delaying Medicare does require you to have employer group health coverage from your or your spouse's employment.

Social Security must interview you to terminate Medicare Parts A and/or B, and you can do so by calling your local Social Security office. Discuss with the representative that you need to terminate your Medicare since you are covered by employer's group health coverage and made a mistake by enrolling in Medicare. You will need to file Social Security form CMS-1763 to terminate Medicare Part A (hospital) or Part B (medical).

Here are the different Medicare enrollment options:

1. If you are turning 65 and receiving your Social Security check, this is the easiest way to receive your Medicare card. Medicare will mail your card 90 days before you turn 65.

2. If you are turning 65 and NOT receiving your Social Security check — either because you are still working or are not working but waiting past age 65 to receive 100% of your Social Security benefits, you can enroll in Medicare online at www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare 90 days before you turn 65.

3. If you are over age 65 and still working or your spouse is still working, you should talk to your (or your spouse's) employer's human resources department. Verify whether you should delay enrolling in Part B because you and/or your spouse are on an employer group health plan. When you/your spouse will no longer be covered by an employer group health plan, have the HR department fill out and sign Social Security form CMS-L564 "Request for Employment Information" and CMS-40B "Application for Medicare Part B." Call your local Social Security office and fax the forms to justify your delay in enrollment and avoid needless penalties.

Medicare enrollment situations DO matter. Here are a couple:

— Working Spouse: If the working spouse is providing health insurance benefits from their current employment group health coverage, then you may want to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B. You might continue to work either part-time or as a self-employed individual while taking advantage of the coverage provided by your working spouse.

— Self-Employed: If you turned 65, were NOT covered under an employer's group health plan, and waited to enroll in Medicare Part B, then you will receive a 10% penalty for each 12-month period that you were not enrolled in Part B. So, if you waited till turning 67 to apply for Original Medicare Parts A and B, you will pay an additional 20% for your Medicare Part B every month for as long as you are on Medicare or the rest of your life.

"Confused about Medicare" Zooms are back for 2023! Find the link at www.Tonisays.com to register for the session on Thursday, February 9, from 4-6 p.m. Central time.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. For a Medicare checkup, email: info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.