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

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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.


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.