Time flies when we are having fun.
In this case, it still flies and we’re not having any fun during this pandemic crisis. It is May and we are 3 months into this mess. The economy is in a tailspin, we have had overcrowded hospitals in a few hot spot states, and the media is still reporting a lot of misinformation. With that being said, I am having a lot of trouble assisting some new Medicare beneficiaries trying to obtain their Part B through their Social Security administration offices.
As a lot of businesses have been shut down and most people are hunkering down in their homes it has felt like the entire planet has stopped spinning. This isn’t so for a lot of folks as they are continuing to turn age 65 and retiring. This pandemic has even forced a lot of early retirements. These folks are forced to take their Medicare, but Medicare has not been ready for them due to this virus.
I am writing this from personal experience over the last couple of months. I have had numerous soon-to-be beneficiaries call me asking for their advice on how to sign up for their election for Part B. This is not something new because in all my years assisting folks with their Medicare needs, this is a common occurrence.
However, these are different times and it seems during the shutdown it has even affected your local social security offices. For those of you who don’t know, when you turn 65 and retire chances are most of you have to enter into the world of Medicare unless your former employee is still willing to cover health benefits.
The first step is to make sure you sign up for Medicare Part B. You need both Parts A & B to be eligible for a Medigap plan or an Advantage plan. To sign up for Part B you contact your local social security office for the proper forms you need to bring to your employer to be filled out correctly. You need to make sure your Part B starts immediately when your employer coverage ends.
In most cases this does get done in a timely fashion unless you wait until the last minute. I always advise my clients to at least get it done about 60 days beforehand so this way it becomes a smooth transition. There have been numerous times where it does slip some people’s minds but still get it done in time for the coverage period desired.
Since this shutdown started the system has become an issue for some folks. It seems a lot of calls at social security offices are not being answered and when some people do get through, they are left waiting on hold for hours only to get disconnected. It has become an issue and has become scary for these beneficiaries worried they may be left without health coverage.
Just about a month ago I assisted a new client and explained what he needed to do to obtain his Part B. When he finally got through, a social security admin told him he needed to mail his completed forms to the Jamaica New York office.
He is Medicare eligible living and paying taxes in Pennsylvania. I didn’t question this at the time because with everything that was going on, I figured they were handling the overload of new recipients. Long story short when everything finally got settled, his Part B was finally put into effect, but 30 days later than my client desired.
This tells me the social security offices are running a skeleton crew at this point and admins who do not normally answer the phones are answering the phones and mistakes advising folks. I am here to tell you do not wait until the last minute especially if you know ahead of time of the date you will be retiring, and your employer coverage ends. Instead of 30 or 60 days, try putting the wheels in motion about 90 days before. At least until the dust settles on this virus.
Now in fairness to the social security offices throughout the United States of America, as I mentioned earlier more and more people are forced into retirement because of the pandemic and I think with this shutdown no one was ready for the surge of applicants they have been receiving on a daily basis.
And when the Medicare beneficiary who is under a time constraint and does not receive the help or answers they need, panic starts setting in. I will say this, over the past week or so I have had a few new clients who are now getting word from social security their Part B is approved and at least received verbally their new social security numbers which helps me greatly as a broker to turn around and assist them in their Medicare coverage needs.
As I said earlier, and I stress this point, if you know your retirement date start putting the wheels in motion by contacting us at BGA Insurance. We are licensed Insurance Agents and are able to service many states across the USA! We are courteous and patient; we are committed to our clients from the first conversation to our annual reviews of their plans.