Ask the Expert: Delaying Social Security

If your spouse postpones his Social Security application,

If your spouse postpones his Social Security application, his benefit will keep growing until he turns 70, even if he’s not working. But make sure he signs up for Medicare at 65! (Credit: iStock)

Lynn Brenner

Lynn Brenner Lynn Brenner

Brenner answers questions about all aspects of family finance.

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I'm 57 and will work until my full retirement age. My husband, who'll be 62 in May, is eligible to retire from his job with a pension that includes medical benefits. Longevity runs in his family; both his parents are 90 years old, healthy and active. Can he delay his Social Security benefit even though he'll be receiving a pension?

 

Certainly. If he postpones his Social Security application, his benefit will keep growing until he turns 70, even if he's not working. But make sure he signs up for Medicare at 65! That's when his retiree medical plan turns into supplementary insurance that only pays for what Medicare doesn't cover.

When your health insurance is provided by an employer with 20 or more workers, for whom you or your spouse is actively working, that coverage is primary even after you turn 65. But if you have health insurance through a former employer -- i.e., retiree medical benefits -- it becomes secondary to Medicare when you turn 65. To maintain seamless primary coverage, your husband should enroll in Medicare a month before turning 65.

To avoid permanently higher premiums, he must sign up by the end of the third month after his birthday month. (If he turns 65 in May, this deadline is Aug. 31.) If he misses his original Medicare enrollment window, his premium will rise 10 percent for each 12 months he delays in signing up. He may also face months without primary health insurance. If he misses his original deadline, he must wait for Medicare general enrollment between Jan. 1 and March 31 -- and his coverage won't start until July 1.

The bottom line Delaying Social Security can make sense, but double-check your Medicare enrollment deadline -- and don't miss it!

Websites with more information bit.ly/WfBVkG and bit.ly/159BKgy

 

TO ASK THE EXPERT Send questions to Ask the Expert / Act 2, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4226, or email act2@newsday.com. Include your name, address and phone number. Questions can be answered only in this column. Advice is offered as general guidance. Check with your own advisers for your specific needs.

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