Maximizing Social Security

Getting the most out of your Social Security? Maybe not. New ways to maximize your SS security ponzi scheme 2

Social Security is one of the most complex government run benefit programs that touches every U.S. citizen in one way or another. Often referred to as a Ponzi scheme (and justifiably so), if you expect to win at this game you need to get in early and stay as long as you can.

Hardly anything in OASDI (Old Age Survivors and Disability Income) program is more confusing than spousal and survivor benefits. Two new books and a website can help you get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.


Get the most out of your Social Security

Most advisers today say wait as long as you can to start your benefits. That means waiting until age 70 to begin drawing your check.

You can start as early as age 62 but baby boomers like myself must wait until age 66 before we have reached what Social Security terms our “normal retirement age”.

sleepless nightsThe Wall Street Journal advises, “getting smart about Social Security can put tens of thousands of extra dollars in your pocket”. They recommend two books, one new, one updated, to bring you up to speed on getting what is rightly yours.

The Social Security Handbook has 2,728 rules for determining your benefits.  If that isn’t enough there is POMS (Program Operating Manual System) to explain how to implement the rules.

Or you can get Laurence Kotlikoff’s book “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” and buzz through 300 pages. In there you will pick up gem’s like this in the section “25 Bad-News Gotchas That Can Reduce Your Benefits Forever.”

“If you get divorced just one day shy of 10 years, neither you nor your spouse will collect a dime in spousal or survivor benefits.” – WSJ

That’s going to leave a mark.

Assuming you even thought about this question, you could find it easily with Google. Here’s the answer.

If you have a surviving divorced spouse, he or she could get the same benefits as your widow or widower provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. – SSA

But in the midst of divorce, and even if you have thought about your (soon to be ex) dying, SS benefits are probably the furthest thing from your mind.

The benefit of books like this is, it prompts you to think about questions and solutions you never considered before.

If you don’t want to read 300 pages you can pick up the 2nd book mentioned in the WSJ by Jim Blankenship, “Social Security Owners Manual”.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices


Why not ask the folks at Social Security?

Did you really ask that?

When have you ever called any government office (or private industry) twice, posed the same question twice, and received the same answer?baby boomers collect SS

For many people, SS benefits comprise a large part of their retirement financial plan. Doesn’t it make sense to do it right from the start?

If you are not a reader and want to pass on “Get What’s Yours”, you should consider a comprehensive website by the same author.

Maximize My Social Security is available to consumers for a $40 annual fee. That is a small price to pay when it comes to analyzing and predicting your retirement income possibilities.

Plug in your information and in seconds the software analyzes numerous combinations of retirement scenarios. Here is a summation of what you get with your license.

Maximize My Social Security ask for the right inputs—all the right inputs and then, under its hood, its advanced algorithms consider thousands and often tens of thousands of alternative claiming strategies in suggesting the best strategy—the one that delivers the highest lifetime benefits. In the case of married couples, the program suggests joint claiming strategies since what one spouse does will affect what the other can do and vice versa. For widowed and divorced widowed households, the program suggests the best order in which to take widow(er) and retirement benefits. For divorced workers, the program considers when to take spousal and retirement benefits. And for households with children who qualify for benefits, the program incorporates if and when the parents should collect spousal with child in care as well as mother’s and father’s benefits.

The program goes far beyond any calculations that Social Security itself can make. For privacy and other reasons, Social Security’s calculators are not set up to jointly optimize over the claiming decisions of your or any household.



Maximizing your retirement health care dollars

Along with maximizing your Social Security benefts, retirees need to learn how to maximize their retirement health care dollars.

best medicare supplement plan FMost of us just took what our employers offered, grumbled that it wasn’t good enough and cost too much and then went on. When you turn 65 you finally get to pick your own plan. One that meets your needs and budget.

Sadly, too many make poor choices and don’t realize it until it is too late.

I have spent 40 years designing health insurance plans for corporations and individuals and I believe I understand what it’s all about. But a few years ago when I was looking toward turning 65 it was time for me to learn about Medicare, not just for myself, but my clients. Many of them would be turning 65 and going on Medicare and I knew they would turn to me for advice.

The first time I read through the Medicare manual I thought I must have had a brain freeze. Hardly any of it made sense. It took about 3 weeks of reading and re-reading the material plus talking to some very wise brokers in the Medicare market before the light bulb came on.

I am not dumb, but if it took me that long to understand the basics of Medicare, how much more difficult is it for those who haven’t studied health insurance for 40 years?

Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in Medigap and Medicare Part D coverage. We ask each potential client about their medical history, prescription drug history and doctors before ever making a recommendation. If you are turning 65 your decisions are even more crucial because you get only ONE initial enrollment period. After that you can change supplement plans at any time as long as you are in good health.

As a baby boomer going on Medicare in September, 2015 I have a unique perspective over most other agents that contact you. I have no problem telling you which plan and carrier I will pick and why it may or may not be right for you.

With more than 170 different Medigap plans, how do you find the right one?

We can help. Others talk, we listen.

Instant GA Medigap quotes online.

We NEVER sell your information!



#SocialSecurity  #Medicare #TurningAge65  #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GAMedigapQuotes





Identity Theft Prevention Act

The Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act of 2015 is proposed tax formslegislation whose time has come. Retirees are easy targets and carrying a Medicare card with your Social Security number on it is an open invitation to thieves. Medical identity theft is a so-called “victim-less” crime that often goes unnoticed until thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims have been filed.


Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act of 2015

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has introduced legislation aimed at curbing identity theft by offering more consumer protections for your Social Security number.

The Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act of 2015, among other things, would:

  • Allow the IRS to prohibit employers from displaying a worker’s full Social Security number on W-2 forms.

  • Phase out “unnecessary storage and display of Social Security numbers by Medicare and private health care providers.” Brown said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been asked for years about removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards but claims it needs congressional approval to do so.

  • Give victims the ability to pursue civil action against people who’ve committed fraud against them. – Cleveland

Georgia Medicare Plans supports this move to protect citizens from identity theft.


Protecting your Medicare card

In the past we have suggested carrying a copy of your Medicare card that has blacked out all but the last four numbers of your Medicare claim number which is also (usually) your Social Security number. This was not our original idea. We got it from Money Magazine.

But we have been taken to the woodshed by a MOM (Medical Office Manager) in this revealing post by a fellow blogger.

I was a bit perplexed when not once, but twice in the past few months, I had patients who presented a photocopy of their Medicare Card with their billing number (which is their social security number) blacked out. Each time I gave the “card” back to the patient and said I could not accept a photo copy, I needed the original card with all the information visible. You see, the only way I can get my doctor paid is to bill Medicare for your service and I need that number to bill. – InsureBlog

As Kelley goes on to say …….

because of identity theft and the ability to change insurances during the open enrollment each year (and sometimes more often), the physician has to confirm each time you visit that you do, in fact, have insurance, and that insurance is, in fact, yours. This is done by confirming your Insurance Number and Name with outside entities that assure your doctor that, yes, the insurance is active and you are you.

Thanks, Kelley, for pointing this out and helping us understand these issues from a doctor’s office perspective.


Medigap may offer more protection

In the battle against medical identity theft, a Medigap plan may offer you more protection than a Medicare Advantage plan.

As the Cleveland article pointed out, many insurance carriers use your SSN as part of your member ID number. Most retirees will review and often change Advantage plans on an annual basis. Each time you change that is more exposure to potential identity theft.

Contrast that with having a Medicare supplement plan that most will keep for years without making a change. We have clients who have had the same Medigap plan with the same carrier for 5 years or longer.

Contrast that with Advantage plans that are changed every 2 – 3 years.

When was the last time you reviewed your Medigap plan? Most of the people we talk to are paying too much for their plan by an average of $450 per year. We show them even more savings by swapping their expensive plan F for plan G or N.

With more than 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia, how do you find the best plan for you?

Shop and compare GA Medigap quotes

Instant online rates

Your information is NEVER sold.


#IdentityTheft #TaxFraud #MedicareCard #SocialSecurity #GAMedigapQuotes

How to Max Out Your Social Security

If you want to max out your Social Security benefit you will need to plan ahead. You can begin receiving Social Security at age 62 but most baby boomers will come out ahead to wait until FRA (full retirement age) at 66. Regardless of when you begin Social Security, most of us will go on Medicare A & B when we turn 65. How much is the spouse benefit?

How much does Medicare cost? Should I stay on my group plan or is it better to begin Medicare at age 65? Can I have Medicare without Social Security?


Social Security at age 62 or wait?

If you need to begin Social Security at age 62 for financial reasons, go ahead. It is your money. But if you want to max out your benefits the longer you wait the more you will receive each month. Apply for Medicare

The Catch 22 in your benefit is this. How long will you live?

If you are in relatively good health and your family has a history of living into their 80’s or older there’s a good chance you will have a long life too.

But we never know until we get there.

CNN Money addresses the question, “Should you tap your Social Security benefits early or wait?”.

Many people want to get their hands on their benefits as soon as possible, fearing (incorrectly) that Social Security will go broke. Others enjoy the sense of control they get from investing those funds instead of passively waiting for a higher payment down the road.

In spite of some claims, Social Security will not go broke. Technically, it already is. Excess payroll tax collections have mostly been borrowed by Congress to pay current obligations. The Trust fund is full of IOU’s but that does not mean Social Security will implode.

There are too many of us boomers out there and we are old enough to vote if they try and take Social Security away from us. Yes, I said us. I will turn 65 in September of 2015 and will go on Medicare. My plan is to delay SS until age 66 or possibly later.


Social Security planning

If you fail to plan you plan to fail. There is a lot to be said for that old saw.

Back in the old days when we wanted to go on vacation we planned ahead. Many of us ordered at trip planning kit from AAA that contained maps, information on lodging and restaurants and even included brochures of places to see.

That was then.

Now we go on the internet and let Google be our friend. We may map out our trip to get an idea of trip times but rather than bulky maps that never can be folded up neatly we rely on GPS to get us from point A to point B.

We don’t have a retirement GPS and we do need to plan ahead.

Of the items mentioned in the video, long term care planning is often the one that is most overlooked. I have a business associate that handles long term care for me. Let me know if you need an introduction.


Turn 65, go on Medicare?

At one time you had no choice. Most people retired at age 65 and some even a few years earlier. If you worked for a “big company” like AT&T or IBM you had a retiree health insurance plan.

But those days are mostly gone.

att retiree health insuranceMany large employers have cancelled their retiree health plan and shuttled their employees off to consultants like Aon or Towers Watson. Instead of a company health insurance plan you are forced onto Medicare. Your former employer may have set up a retiree HRA and made a deposit to help you pay for your Medicare Part B and either a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap plus Part D.

The advice given by the service reps at Aon or Towers Watson is mostly inadequate. You may have also been told the only way to participate in the HRA was to buy your coverage through the consulting firm.

In many cases that may not have been completely accurate.

We helped several retirees find a plan that fit their needs and budget and still retain access to the HRA funding. In every case the premiums for plans we suggested were lower than those for comparable plans through Aon or Towers.

With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one for you? I will be glad to discuss the plans I considered as well as the one I will pick when I go on Medicare.

You can begin your search on our site. View plans side by side to compare benefits and rates. Of course we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Still have questions?

Social Security can be confusing, even more so than Medicare. You are not the only one with questions.

Here are a few links to help you find your path and max out your Social Security benefits.

How to Max Out Your Social Security Checks

How to Calculate the Spousal Benefit

Social Security Spouse Benefits – The Rules of the Road

If you found this post to be of benefit please share it with your friends. Let us know how we can help.


#SocialSecurity #Medicareturning65 #AT&T

Playing Politics with Social Security

Many baby boomers thought Social Security would not be around by the time they had their 65th birthday. We are barely 4 social security ponzi schemeyears into the boomer generation, born from 1946 through 1964, but already the folks in DC are wondering how to deal with 10,000 of us crossing the finish line every day. The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided so often there is little left in reserve to pay our benefits.

  • What is the problem with Social Security?
  • How did this mess occur?
  • What happened to the Trust Fund where reserves were held in a lock box?
  • What steps are being taken to preserve Social Security?
  • How should I plan for retirement?


Social Security and an aging population

As Suzanne Fields writes in the Washington Times

At the beginning of the 20th century, a baby born in America was expected to reach the ripe old age of 47. My grandson, delivered on Christmas Eve, can anticipate living to the age of 79. If progress continues, his life expectancy will rise to 88. At the end of the century, the norm may be a cool 100.

Along with The Greatest Generation, Boomer are living longer, healthier lives. Improved lifestyles and the miracle of modern medicine allows us to live longer, more productive lives.

When Social Security was created the average life expectancy was 61. Only 54% of men and 60% of women lived to age 65. Congress only had to fund benefits for less than half the people born in 1935. The rest would pay into the system but never collect.

And to think they threw Charles Ponzi in jail for his scheme which involved using funds from new investors to pay returns to social security ponzi scheme 2the early investors.

Social Security was always designed to be a “pay as you go” system where retiree benefits were funded by payroll taxes on the current labor force.

Despite popular belief, you do not have your own Social Security account. When you reach retirement age your benefits are paid from the payroll tax revenues on current workers. Money you paid in over your working lifetime were used to pay retirees.

The flip side is, if you die before you retire you get nothing. Your estate will receive a $255 death benefit. The rest of the money you paid in is gone.


How did we get to this point?


The folks in DC found a way to turn a promise of “security” into a vote buying scheme. Promise more benefits with the belief socia security ponzi workers to retireesthat the next generation can fund the promises.

In the distant past, Social Security was a “pay-as-you-go” system, where current tax collections paid for current benefits. The Social Security trust fund idea gave us the illusion that we were advance funding Social Security benefits, in a manner similar to the private pension system. In reality, though, Social Security is still pay-as-you-go, with the difference being that future generations will pay for both the benefits outlay and the repayment of principal and interest on the special government bonds in the trust fund. – CBS News

Congress borrowed from Peter to pay Paul. Current workers are not only funding current retiree benefits but also paying back the loans (in the form of government bonds).

Part of the problem is there are fewer workers for each retiree than there were when Social Security began. People are living longer now and retiring earlier. This is a problem.


Fixing the Social Security problem

Congress has created a monster with an insatiable appetite so what can they do to tame the beast?

Social Security is based on age assumptions rooted in the last century, but Social Security remains “the third rail of politics.” A president touches it at his peril. The last president who raised the qualifying age for benefits was Ronald Reagan, our oldest president. President Obama, with a new conservative Congress, will not likely do much more than talk about the problems of Social Security, although its pay formula remains unsustainable. – Washington Times

BOSTON, MA, USA - 30JAN02 -Three people are dreaming: National Security dreamer sleeps soundly; Houneland Security dreamer sleeps soundly; Socieal Security dreamer is wide awake. CARTOON: Clay Bennett / The Christian Science MonitorIn case you missed it, the normal retirement age for full Social Security benefits is no longer age 65 for the Greatest Generation, Boomers and those that follow.

People born in 1937 and earlier were the last generation that could draw full retirement benefits at age 65. If you were born in 1938 your NRA (normal retirement age) was 65 and 2 months. Born in 1939, NRA is 65 and 4 months and so on.

Age 66 is the new NRA for people born from 1943 through 1954. The last of the boomers must wait until age 67 to collect their NRA full benefit.

Every year our elected officials debate ways to keep Social Security solvent. Some of the ideas have already been implemented including raising the NRA and taxing benefits if you have earned income above a certain level.

Other ideas considered but not (yet) implemented include:

  • Chained CPI for future benefit increases
  • Raise FICA taxes
  • Increase the FICA cap on wages
  • Further increases in the NRA
  • “Means testing” for Social Security beneficiaries

We have no way of knowing which (if any) of these considerations will be implemented. What we do know is this. Congress can’t afford to keep kicking the Social Security can down the road and we can’t bury our head in the sand and pretend everything is fine.


Planning for retirement

Here are a few suggestions for those who will be retiring soon or are already retired.

  • Reduce pesonal debt
  • Improve your health
  • Match your Medicare plan with your needs and budget
  • Reduce your health care cost

Retirement planners and financial advisers suggest you enter retirement debt free but that isn’t always possible. In addition to a mortgage, many retirees still have student loan debt. Some is their own debt while others may be on the hook for loans as a co-signer. These calculators at Bankrate can be helpful if you have debts that still need to be paid off.

Improving your health has many benefits including lowering your monthly outlay for medication. Walking is something most of us can do and all it costs is a decent pair of walking shoes. I get mine at Kohl’s for less than $100. Best money I have ever spent on my health and I got a quick return.

Last summer I started walking 4 miles a day, usually in the A.M. before it got hot. Within a month I had lost 6 pounds and dropped my BP from 141/92 to a more respectable 126/82. Not bad for a chubby guy going on Medicare later this year.

My mother battled high BP all her life and died of a stroke at 82. I vowed not to follow in her footsteps and now maybe I am improving my odds.

Most people pick a Medicare plan based on the monthly premium. If you are like that you are looking at the wrong end of the equation. Retirees on Social Security should look at the cost of their health care rather than the premium. A low premium Advantage plan could leave you with several thousand dollars in out of pocket costs for health care or prescription drugs. Same can be said for Medicare Part D.

I ran a report for a new client that only takes two medications. He mentioned at $15 plan from Humana as one he had considered. When I ran a report for him a $20 plan offered a better value. Even with the $5 higher monthly premium he would save almost $400 per year in drug costs. It would have been very shortsighted to have looked at the premium alone.

This same client wanted Medigap plan F and was trying to decide between AARP/United at $180 and Blue Cross for $192. I showed him plan G for $132 but he insisted on plan F.

We compromised on plan F for $151 and still saved him money over plans he picked on his own.

He can stretch his Social Security check a little farther now by saving over $65/month on his medications and Medicare supplement.

We might be able to save you even more. It all starts with a free Medigap quote.


Should All Diabetics Take Cholesterol Medication?

Are you a diabetic with high cholesterol? Should you take a statin drug? Are you at risk for heart disease? How much should you expect to pay for your diabetic medications? bob on fb

Georgia Medicare Plans feels that retirees on Medicare need good information to maintain their physical and financial health. Free Medicare Part D review, free instant Medigap quotes and access to our most popular report “Medicare and Social Security” are just a few of the valuable services we provide.

This report has been viewed and shared over 1,000 times in the last few months.


Diabetic and High Cholesterol

Many diabetics also battle high cholesterol, but are statins the treatment of choice?

New guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) call for giving the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins to all people with diabetes to help prevent heart disease.

Health Day

But are diabetics at any higher risk for heart disease than anyone else with high cholesterol?

According to Dr. Richard Grant, not necessarily.

“We agree that the decision to start a statin should be based on a patient’s risk,” said Dr. Richard Grant, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and chairman of the ADA’s professional practice committee.

“It turns out that patients with diabetes have the same risk as people with heart disease, so all of our patients need to be on statins,” he said.

But are statins the only way, or even the best way to treat cholesterol?

According to  Dr. Grant, some diabetics may not need statins. Younger, healthier patients and older patients with other medical conditions may not benefit from statins.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of people with diabetes, Grant said. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes, he said.

The increased risk of heart disease in people with diabetes is what was behind the rationale for this year’s recommendations on statins, blood pressure and exercise, according to Grant.

Many people can control their blood pressure and cholesterol with diet and exercise alone. But some people, such as my wife, have high cholesterol as part of their genetic make up. No matter how much she exercises or how closely she watches her diet, she cannot get her cholesterol below 240.

She does take Red Yeast Rice (a natural statin) and fish oil at the suggestion of her doctor. This seems to help but she can’t overcome the genetics.


Diabetic medications

Treating chronic illnesses can be very costly for retirees. Georgia Medicare Plans works closely with their clients to help them find ways to save money while treating their diabetic condition.

Many type II diabetics can fill their metformin prescription at no charge at select pharmacy’s. Some diabetic supplies (including insulin) are covered under Medicare Part B. A good Medigap plan combined with original Medicare can save you several hundred dollars per year in out of pocket costs.



Medigap carriers will issue coverage to most type II diabetics (as long as you do not have complications associated with the disease) and some type I diabetics. You may even qualify for standard rates.

Switching from brand name drugs can save you anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year to several thousand dollars.

One such example is Glucophage (brand) vs metformin (generic). Most drug plans will not cover a brand name drug if a generic alternative exists. Glucophage will cost you over $1,000 per year at retail with a Medicare Part D plan. Switching to metformin lowers your cost to less than $150 per year and some pharmacy’s make metformin available at no cost.

Actos is another popular diabetic medication. If you are taking Actos and pick a low cost ($15) drug plan from Humana your annual cost for the medication will exceed $6,000 per year. Switching to a more expensive ($70) drug plan will drop your drug costs to $3,000 per year.

While these savings are significant, changing from Actos (brand) to pioglitazone (generic) will not only allow you to pick a lower premium drug plan ($15) but more importantly lowers your annual drug costs to a more respectable $300 per year.

Most agents are willing to help you find ways to save money on your Medicare supplement coverage but few are willing to explore savings on drug plans. We find that most of our clients who bought drug plans without any help are paying more than they need to both in premiums and out of pocket drug costs.

We save our clients $550 per year or more on their Medigap premiums but the savings exceeds $1000 per year on drug costs.

Recently we reviewed drug coverage for one of our clients. They were paying $115 per month for a drug plan and spending $13,000 per year for their medications. A 30 minute review showed them how to cut their premium in half and drop their drug costs to $6,000 per year.

You don’t have to be a diabetic to realize these kind of savings. Your path to saving money begins with a free Georgia Medicare Plan quote.

medicareshopcompare2 (1)


#diabetic #Medicare #cholesterol #MedicarePartD

Medicare and Social Security

Medicare and Social Security. Having a birthday? Turning 65? Did your Medigap rates increase? Medicare open enrollment? This is a good time to review your plans and happy birthday 65make changes where possible. Are you collecting Social Security or have you deferred your benefit? When is Medicare Part A free? Can you collect Social Security if you refuse Medicare? When can you enroll in Medicare? Do you need Medicare Part A and B? If you have an employer health insurance plan, do you still need Medicare? What are the Medicare penalties? Should I file for Social Security early or wait? Medicare and Social Security, like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other. Medicare Part D, the most overlooked piece of the puzzle and often the most costly.

Medicare looks complicated but is reasonably simple, once you understand how it all works.

Social Security looks simple, but is complicated.

I believe the government does it this way just to test our resolve.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices


Social Security

At one time Social Security was simple. You turn 65. You collect Social Security.

Then they changed the rules.

Congress spent all the money they took from our paychecks during our working years and spent it. Yes, they told us it was in a trust fund, but the truth is they BORROWED against the fund and replaced it with IOU’s.

In order to keep the promised benefits they had to change the rules. They did this in 1983 when most of us weren’t paying attention and some of us thought we would never live to 65.

retire 5 yrs after I die2Baby Boomers

For the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1943 and 1954) collecting FULL Social Security at age 65 isn’t possible. We have to wait until age 66 before we can get our full benefit. We can still collect at age 65 but our benefit is 7% less than it would be at age 66.

We can still go on Medicare at age 65, earlier if disabled, but if we want the full retirement amount we have EARNED we have to wait until age 66.

We can collect Social Security as early as age 62 if we don’t mind taking a 30% pay cut. If your Social Security benefit at age 66 is $1200 per month your age 62 benefit will be $840. Other than COLA increases, or if you continue to work while receiving Social Security, your pay cut will remain in effect for as long as you live.

Should you collect your benefit early?

It depends on how long you are going to live.

If you started receiving Social Security at age 62 it will take you (on average) to age 80 to collect the same total amount if you had waited until age 70 to receive benefits.

Up to 85% of your Social Security benefit can be taxed if you have other income. Social Security benefits are also subject to an earnings test and your benefit can be reduced if you have other income. If you have a spouse you may want to consider a file and suspend

What happens if you are receiving Social Security and you want to opt out of Medicare at age 65?

You forfeit your Social Security benefits. The courts have ruled you cannot collect Social Security if you refuse Medicare.

If you have coverage through an employer group plan that continues past 65 you may not want or need “automatic” enrollment in Part B.

Don’t allow your current health insurance carrier to auto-enroll you in a Medicare plan they have “chosen” for you.



Most people will qualify for Medicare at age 65, and for most, Medicare Part A is “free”.

ee card like wine we get better with ageWell, not really free. You paid for it all the years you worked but the government still tells you it is free.

And they say that with a straight face.

Medicare Part A is free, but Part B isn’t.

In case you missed it earlier, not only did Congress spend most of the money in the Social Security trust fund, they also mismanaged our Medicare taxes.

In 2014 your Medicare Part B premium is $105 ………… unless you earned a lot of money 2 years ago …………… then you pay more.

This is another trick cooked up by Congress to collect more tax dollars to make up for the ones they wasted studying the sex life of termites in Africa.

What does Congress consider rich?



Medicare Penalty Tax

If your MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) from two years ago was $85,000 or higher ($170,000 if married filing jointly) you pay a penalty tax in addition to your Medicare Part B premiums. In 2014 your wealth tax could be as much as $231 in addition to your Part B premium. Ask your tax preparer about what is counted in your MAGI.

You will also pay more for Part D. Your wealth tax for your drug plan can be up to $66 in addition to your regular Part D premium

These amounts are DEDUCTED from your Social Security check.

If you have income after age 65 your wealth tax could continue for as long as you live.

There is also a penalty tax if you do not enroll in Medicare Part B and Part D when the government says you must. It’s called an LEP (late enrollment penalty). There are ways to get around the penalty if you know the rules.


When to Enroll in Medicare?

If you qualify for Medicare and are not working the simple answer is age 65. But if you have coverage under an employer health plan the answer is, it depends.

If your employer coverage is a retiree plan, Medicare pays first. If the coverage is for an active employee (you or your spouse) Medicare might pay first, or your group plan might pay first.

It depends. best medicare supplement plan F

If you have double coverage (employer health plan and Medicare) you may not need Part B or D.

It depends.

You might be able to delay Medicare Parts B and D without penalty.

It depends.

Confused? Go ahead. Pour a glass of wine. You might need it.


Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage?

Now the real fun begins.

Original Medicare or private insurance?

Some enroll in Medicare Advantage because of the low premiums. Nothing wrong with that as long as you understand what lies ahead. Advantage plans are high maintenance and require you to review your plan every year and every time you move. When your plan is discontinued if you don’t pick a new plan within the prescribed time frame you are automatically enrolled in original Medicare.

Advantage plans have moving parts and limited networks. Many doctors and some hospitals do not participate in any Advantage plans. Most cancer treatment centers, many skilled nursing facilities and most psychiatric professionals do not accept Advantage patients.

grammarly reading is how to install new software in your brainOriginal Medicare typically does not have those stumbling blocks. Most providers have no problem accepting Medicare. When they accept Medicare they also will accept ANY Medicare supplement plan.

Medicare is simple. No networks. Keep your existing doctor(s). Very few changes from year to year and if you pick the right Medigap plan, most of the changes are nominal or are absorbed by your supplement plan.

There are over 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia from roughly 40 different carriers. Picking the right one is not as easy as it seems, but it is very easy to make the wrong choice.

My rule of thumb is this. Avoid any carriers that have not been in the Medigap business at least 5 years. Avoid the “big name” trap. All plans with the same letter are identical in every way except price. When you pay more you don’t get more, you simply paid too much.

Conversely, a low premium may be only temporary. Some carriers are notorious for offering low “sucker” rates that blow up on you in two years.

Medicare + Medigap is the perfect choice for some people and for others Medicare Advantage is the right choice. Understand the merits and costs of each before forging ahead.

It’s OK to ask your friends for advice but keep in mind they probably bought what their friends suggested. A plan that works for Alice may be totally wrong for Mary.

Almost everyone we talk with had bad advice, do not really understand what they have, and in the case of a Medigap plan, are paying way too much.

Don’t make the same mistakes!

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices


Medicare Open Enrollment

Every year, beginning on October 15th and ending on December 7th (unless the government decides to change the dates), Medicare open enrollment comes around. Take advantage of this time to review your Medicare Part D drug plans or your Medicare Advantage coverage.

Advantage plans come and go. What you had this year may not be available next year. New plans may crop up in your area ……… or not.

Both Advantage plans and drug plans have sneaky provisions so you must be careful. Premiums may rise or fall and lull you into a sense of security.

Don’t fall for it!

The premium you pay for your Advantage plan or drug plan is insignificant. The REAL cost associated with these plans is how much you pay for care and your medication.

Doctors, hospitals and other providers are routinely dropped from Advantage networks. Do not assume that, just because a provider you use is in network this year they will be in network next year.

Drug plans have preferred pharmacies. Changing pharmacies can alter your copay’s up or down by quite a bit. A simple change in your drug or Advantage plan can save or cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of the year.

Some plans will offer the Lantus SoloSTAR for less than $25 while others will charge you over $170 for the same pen.

We ran a report for one of our diabetic clients and found his annual cost ranged from just over $3,000 to almost $9,000 for the exact same medications!

Review plans carefully for changes and pay extra attention to your out of pocket costs. Failure to do so can put a severe dent in your wallet.

One of the free services available for clients of Georgia Medicare Plans is an annual review of your drug costs. Savings can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

Open enrollment is also a good time to check your Medigap plan premiums. If you bought from a carrier that was new to the market last year and offered a low, introductory rate you may be surprised to find your renewal premiums are no longer competitive.

Two new carriers, Omaha Insurance Company and Manhattan Life entered the Georgia market in 2013 with very competitive rates. In some cases they are so far below market they will be forced to increase rates to make up for losses. Shop and compare your Medicare supplement plan now. We have access to over 170 different plans, many more than you will ever find by yourself, and we also track 5 year renewal rates to see who is stable and which carriers are subject to wild rate increases.



Questions that need answers

If you have coverage through an employer group plan that continues past 65 you may not want or need “automatic” enrollment in Part B.

Don’t miss your enrollment periods, especially for Advantage or Medigap.

Understand the limits of Medicare plans if you travel outside the country.

Make plans for paying for Part B if you are not receiving Social Security.

Know exactly when your Medicare benefits begin so you don’t overpay for double coverage.grammarly never make same mistake

In addition to the publications from Medicare, this booklet from SSA sums up Medicare in an easy to follow form.

If you need to enroll in Medicare Part B only, you cannot enroll online.

Don’t underestimate your total maximum cost for health care, especially if you choose an Advantage plan.

Annual enrollment is only for certain plans. Some Medicare plans have only one “free” enrollment period.

When considering Advantage plans, look beyond the low premium.

All Medicare drug plans have donut holes. Understand the ways to work around or completely avoid the donut hole.

Do you need extra coverage to fill the gaps in Medicare Advantage? If you think you do you probably don’t really understand what you are buying.

When you turn 65 and go on Medicare you may only have one chance to set up your coverage correctly. Choose wisely.


Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D is the red-haired stepchild of the Medicare puzzle.

Most agents avoid discussing it.

Most retirees take it for granted.

The truth is, researching Medicare drug plans can be time consuming and offer little reward for the agent. Very few agents will take the time to truly compare plans for their clients. There are more than 40 different drug plans in Georgia with monthly premiums ranging from less than $20 to over $100. The agent certification process is time consuming and repetitious. Most agents will certify for a couple of plans and those are the only ones they will recommend.

When they do recommend a plan the compensation averages around $2 per month.

Georgia Medicare Plans earns $0 on recommended drug plans but we save our clients an average of $1,000 per year. You can save even more with a donut hole work around.

Last year we saved one client over $7,000 per year in drug costs and cut his premium from $115 to $56.

We show you where to find the lowest prices for medications including some you can get at no charge.


Ready to shop?

If you are ready to shop for plans, we have a convenient quote engine for our visitors. Shop and compare plans online in the comfort of your home. Instant quotes. Click the image below to get started.



#medicare #age65 #medicareopenenrollment

Do You Know the Secret to Increasing Your Social Security Check?

There is a little known secret to increasing your Social Security benefits check. Don’t expect the Social Security office to tell you. If they did it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? Secret to increasing your Social Security Benefits

Actually there are 4 ways to boost your Social Security payments. All very simple and legal.

Add as much as $1000 per month to your monthly benefits.

We can also show you ways to save money on your Medicare supplement premiums. Shop and compare up to 40 plans in 60 seconds. > > > >

GA Medigap Quotes


Increasing your Social Security Benefits by Beginning Again

What if you could take a Mulligan on your Social Security filing? A do-over. Start all over again and begin immediately collecting more money each month from Social Security.

My guess is no one at Social Security ever mentioned form 521

Out of the 32 million retirees who collect Social Security benefits, Rothenhoefer was one of just 71 people this fiscal year to take advantage of an obscure option that lets you halt your current benefits, pay back all you have collected interest-free, and restart your benefits at a new, higher rate based on your current age.

It’s perfectly legal, says Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration. But don’t expect the claims representatives at your local Social Security office or the employees who answer the agency’s toll-free number (800-772-1213) to be familiar with the details.


John Rothenhoefer was 70 years old when he learned the secret about increasing your Social Security benefits with form 521. Using this tactic he increased his monthly check by almost $1000 per month.

Not only does he enjoy the additional money each month, but if his wife survives him she will receive the same amount for the rest of her life.

John Greaney, creator of Retire Early discovered another benefit to the Social Security do-over.

When Greaney took the time to research it last summer, he realized that it was an even better deal than he had first thought. That’s because when you repay your Social Security benefits, you can claim either an itemized deduction or a tax credit (whichever results in bigger savings to you) for the taxes you paid on your benefits in previous years. The calculations are complicated, but you can get all the details in IRS Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits


You May Qualify for a Tax Refund

You could increase your Social Security benefits PLUS get a tax refund from prior years where you paid taxes on your Social Security benefits.

Two other income-boosting strategies give couples a way to maximize their Social Security benefits. A recent paper by the Center for Retirement Research recommends that the spouse who is eligible for lower benefits collect them early, while the higher-earning spouse delays taking benefits until they are worth more. Then, when the primary breadwinner dies, the spouse with the lower benefit will “step up” to a much higher survivor benefit as the smaller retirement payment drops off.

As they say on TV, but wait, there’s more!


About Those May-December Marriages

Additional benefits for the older man, younger woman.

Older men who are widowers or divorced often get remarried to younger women, and it’s not uncommon for them to start second families. So when these do-over dads start collecting Social Security benefits, they may still have minor children at home. More than 500,000 children currently receive monthly payments based on a parent’s Social Security retirement benefits.

This can apply to women who re-marry as well.

So there you have it. Four secrets to increasing your Social Security benefits without cheating.

And don’t forget to check out your Medigap options. Find affordable Medigap rates with our free, instant quote. We also have rates offline that may be even lower.

Social Security Disability

SSDISocial Security Disability Income (SSDI) is available to those who are totally and permanently disabled and have at least 20 Social Security credits in the last 10 years. Most full time workers will have 4 credits for each year worked.

In order to be eligible for Social Security disability, you must be  “disabled.” For Social Security purposes, a you are “disabled” if you have a  medical problem that prevents you from performing “substantial gainful activity.”  Substantial activity can be employment, volunteer work or even school.  In addition, your medical problem must be severe enough that it has lasted or will last at least a year.  Social Security disability does not pay for short term problems.

As a practical matter, I can tell you that Social Security disability is primarily about your capacity to work.  Stated another way, in order to  prove that you are disabled, you often need to prove that you cannot work even a  simple, unskilled job. For example, imagine yourself working as an packer, where  you sit at a table and pack items in a box; imagine yourself as a cashier at a  parking lot; imagine yourself as a nighttime security system monitor. Could you  perform one of these very simple, low stress, low exertion jobs 8 hours a day, 5  days a week?

Jonathon Ginsberg – Georgia Social Security Disability Attorney

Before you can file an SSDI claim, you must have been totally and permanently disabled for 5 consecutive calendar months.

Most initial SSDI claims are denied and the average wait time from filing to approval is roughly 18 months.

If you do not have enough quarter hours of coverage for SSDI, then you may be eligible for SSI, which is a welfare program that pays a set amount (currently $710 per month in 2013).  In addition if your medical condition left you unable to work months or years in the past, you sometimese can get payments dating back to the time when you left your last job – this may amount to tens of thousands of dollars payable as a lump sum. 

Just because you cannot work, there is no reason to lose your dignity.

Money is available through federal programs and you have every right to claim your share.

Social Security Disability Income is for those who genuinely deserve the assistance. It is not a “gimme” nor is it an entitlement. Jonathon Ginsberg lists 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid if you expect to collect Social Security Disability.

If you are found disabled and you have enough credits to qualify for SSDI, you automatically become eligible for Medicare.  However, you do not get Medicare immediately.  Instead, you become eligible beginning with the 25th month after your first SSDI payment.

Once you qualify for Medicare, you will be eligible to purchase a Medicare supplement plan or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. You should also consider Medicare Part D (drug plan), especially if you require several prescription medications.

Georgia Medicare Plans will be glad to advise you on your options.

Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – All Discretionary Spending


George Will says all federal spending is ultimately “discretionary”

Members of Congress are actively working to cut the federal budget and bring down spending. But they’re steering clear of the politically difficult, big-ticket items such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt and national defense.

“It’s not being debated because they say we’re only going to debate discretionary spending. We should ban that word,” said conservative commentator George F. Will on This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

“It’s all discretionary, other than interest on the national debt. Social Security is discretionary. We have the discretion to change the law. Same is true with Medicare and Medicaid,” Will said.

We thought Will’s statement was a provocative and interesting way to frame the debate. But was it true? We decided to check it out.

We’ll begin with a brief lesson on the terms Congress uses to describe the federal budget.

Discretionary spending means government spending that Congress sets every year through a process known as appropriations. It includes spending for most federal agencies, such as transportation and health. It includes foreign aid and defense spending. And it includes most grant programs administered by the federal government.

Non-discretionary spending, on the other hand, is spending that is controlled by legislation that sets eligibility criteria or spending formulas. It includes entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in which you are legally entitled to benefits as long as you meet certain criteria. It also typically includes programs for which individuals automatically qualify, such as farm subsidies or military benefits. Sometimes non-discretionary spending is called mandatory spending or direct spending.

We ran Will’s comments by four experts on the federal budget. They all said that Will was essentially correct, that non-discretionary spending can be changed at any time by passing new legislation that changes the particular program.

A recent example of this is the health care law supported by President Obama and Democrats in Congress. The law made many changes to Medicare, to reduce its spending, in order to offer subsidies for health care insurance to the uninsured.

“There is no constitutional roadblock to Congress changing any spending at any time. In that sense, all spending is discretionary,” said Marc Goldwein, policy director for the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The reasons members of Congress are now so focused on discretionary spending is because it’s more politically difficult to change programs that affect benefits for so many voters.

“But you can’t stabilize the debt by focusing on only 12 percent of the budget,” Goldwein added. “Trying to do so is going to make the cuts far more painful than what would be necessary if we were to look more broadly.”

Both Medicare and Social Security were on the table in previous years when the budget needed adjustment, said the experts we consulted on both sides of the political aisle. Jim Horney of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that “every major deficit reduction plan in the last 20 years has made significant changes to Medicare.” Brian Riedl of the conservative Heritage Foundation pointed out that Social Security was changed significantly in 1983 in a deal between Democrats in Congress and President Ronald Reagan.

Interest on the federal debt is a required payment unless the government is willing to default, a highly unlikely scenario. There are a few other contractually obligated payments the government has to make, typically for insurance programs such as mortgage insurance, flood insurance, and federal deposit insurance. But those payments are relatively small.

“I would add that even interest on the debt is in some way discretionary, because levels of debt can be changed by decisions to tax and spend and not run budget deficits,” said Josh Gordon, policy director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that wants to eliminate deficits.

Will said that federal spending is “all discretionary, other than interest on the national debt. Social Security is discretionary. We have the discretion to change the law. Same is true with Medicare and Medicaid.” Will is making a broad statement here and leaves out a few details. But he’s largely correct, and we rate his statement True.

Turning 65 – Need to Buy Medigap Insurance

Buy Medigap insurance in Georgia when you turn 65. Do you want the best rate for plan F? Georgia Medicare Plans is an excellent resource for low cost plans when you need to buy Medigap in Georgia.

U. S. News and World Reports offers 7 tips for seniors and baby boomers retiring at age 65 in 2012.

Sign up for Medicare on time. You can first enroll in Medicare during a seven-month window beginning three months before the month you turn 65. Sign up during the months leading up to your 65th birthday if you want your coverage to begin the month you turn 65. (If your birthday is on the first day of the month, your coverage can start as early as the first day of the prior month.) If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B during this initial enrollment period, your premiums may increase by 10 percent for each 12-month period that you delay enrollment. If you are still working and covered by a group health insurance plan at work, sign up within eight months of leaving the insurance plan to avoid the penalty. Make sure you buy Medigap coverage to protect you against huge medical bills.

Schedule your free physical. Beginning this year, Medicare provides a one-time free physical exam within the first 12 months you have Part B coverage by a doctor who agrees to be paid directly by Medicare. The visit may include a review of your health, vision and blood pressure screenings, education and counseling about preventive care services covered by Medicare, and referrals for treatment you may need. Other preventative services you may be able to get at no out-of-pocket cost include cardiovascular and breast cancer screenings, bone mass measurements, and flu shots.

Delay Social Security until next year. While Medicare eligibility for 1946-born baby boomers begins this year, they still will not qualify for the full amount of Social Security benefits they are entitled to. Boomers will have to wait another year, until age 66, if they do not want their entitlement checks to be reduced. Retirees who claim Social Security this year when they turn age 65 will get about 93.3 percent of their full monthly benefit, because they will be getting payments for an additional 12 months. Social Security payouts further increase for each year boomers delay claiming up until age 70.

Develop a retirement spending strategy. Before you plunge into retirement, develop a plan for how you will spend down your assets. Recognize that you will need to pay income tax on withdrawals from traditional 401(k)s and IRAs and withdrawals from those accounts become required after age 70½. Retirees who don’t withdraw the correct amount will face a 50 percent tax penalty on the required withdrawal amount. Also, consider adding some inflation-fighting investments to your portfolio, such as Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), or some exposure to the stock market, commodities, or real estate. “You are probably better off trying to work a little bit longer, recover some of the losses in your retirement plan, and let the market do a little bit of the work,” says Robert Baxter, CEO of Dryden Mutual Insurance Company in Dryden, N.Y., and a 1946-born baby boomer who will turn 65 in August 2011. “If you think about retirement at 65, you may end up living 20 or 25 more years and could outlive your income.”

Keep your job skills sharp. Baby boomers who haven’t saved enough to retire may need to spend several more years in the workforce. Make sure you stay on top of training and computer skills and continue to pursue new projects and opportunities at work. You don’t want to get pushed out of the workforce before you are a ready to retire. Also consider offering to mentor younger employees and pass along your skills to upcoming workers within your organization. “We have all of this great experience and knowledge in a lot of different industries and everyone is going to retire and we’re not passing it on to anyone,” says Andrew Seybold, a 1946-born baby boomer in Santa Barbara, Calif., who runs his own mobile wireless industry consulting business. “I think we owe it to people following us to try to pass some of that information on to them.”

Negotiate a new work schedule. Instead of retiring completely, many baby boomers are interested in working a more flexible and less demanding schedule. When asked about the life changes they have planned for the next few years, more than half (55 percent) of employed baby boomers turning 65 this year say they are interested in cutting back on their work hours, according to a recent AARP survey of 801 adults born in 1946. And about 15 percent of the retired baby boomers plan to go back to work. “People are going to use the guise of retirement to get a break, rest up, and essentially get ready for a new phase of life,” says Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of the upcoming book The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage between Midlife and Old Age. “Retirement is becoming a transition, rather than a destination. True retirement is going to get deferred to much later in life.”

Plan your new life. Develop a plan for the activities you would like to try next. Baby boomers turning 65 this year say their top priorities for the next few years are maintaining their physical health (84 percent) and spending time with family (81 percent), AARP found. Other popular planned retirement activities include interests and hobbies (76 percent), doing things you have always wanted to do (74 percent), and travel (61 percent). Although you may need a rest after decades in the workforce, eventually you will want to channel your energies and abilities into a new project.

In addition to signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B, you should buy Medigap coverage, or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Original Medicare and a Medigap plan allow you access to almost every doctor and hospital in the country. There are no networks. No referrals. You can choose any doctor (including your own). You never have to worry about your coverage when you have Medicare and a supplement plan. Many Medigap plans cover almost all of your routine medical expenses with little or nothing out of pocket.

Medicare Advantage plans have networks that require you to use THEIR doctors and hospitals. Most medical services require you to pay a deductible, copay or both out of pocket. Advantage plans are not portable. If you leave the state or even travel to another part of Georgia away from your home you may have difficulty finding a doctor or hospital that accepts your plan. Even still, you may have to pay a significant portion of your medical bills that are not fully covered by your Advantage plan.

You can find information about Georgia Medigap rates and plans, guaranteed issue, initial enrollment period and more on our site.

When you are ready to buy Medigap coverage, Georgia Medicare Plans has the best Medigap rates in the state for seniors turning age 65.