8 Common Questions People Have When They Turn 65

Turning 65 is a big milestone. (Such a big milestone that even a local Florida celebrity had a festival held to honor their 65th birthday.) Yet, we know that it's not all confetti and cake. With each milestone you face in life, you have questions about what's next. If you have questions about turning 65, you're not alone. More than 20% of all Floridians are Medicare-eligible; and we've supported thousands of Florida seniors as they celebrate 65 and make the transition into Medicare. In this article, we've taken the time to answer some of the most common questions that turning 65 brings. 

1. Can I retire at 65? What is considered the full retirement age?

Although many people believe that the answer is 65, the social security retirement age (at which individuals become eligible to claim all of their Social Security benefits) has increased from 65 to 66. That age is scheduled to continue to rise to age 67 over the next few years. 

This increase in age is a result of the rise in life expectancy – the idea is that if people are living longer, there is evidence to back the increase in the retirement age. Regardless of the retirement age requirements, be sure to keep in mind that you still become eligible for Medicare benefits three months before your 65th birthday. 

2. Will I automatically be enrolled in Medicare?

Individuals that receive Social Security are automatically signed up for Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. 

Medicare A is for hospital insurance and covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and home health care. Medicare B is for general medical insurance and covers certain doctor's services, outpatient care, and preventative services. There is a premium for Part B, but this can be deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or Civil Service Retirement check.

To access the benefits, individuals turning 65 need to be aware that Social Security will be sending detailed instructions at the beginning of the initial enrollment period – approximately three months before their 65th birthday.

On the other hand, if you are not already receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, then you won’t automatically be enrolled. And you won’t receive any information from Social Security regarding your eligibility. 

If you fall into the latter category, you’ll be solely responsible for enrolling in Medicare.

No matter which category you fall into, it is important to meet with a Medicare advisor to ensure that you not only get enrolled in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, but that you also enroll in the right plan – you’d be surprised how many options are available to you!

3. Do I have to enroll in Medicare?

You should sign up for Medicare at age 65, and it is essential to enroll in Medicare benefits during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). 

The IEP is the seven-month window around your 65th birthday (three months before and the three months after). 

If you miss your window, you could face gaps in health insurance coverage, incur late enrollment penalties, and have to wait for another enrollment period such as the Annual Enrollment Period. 

4. Can I enroll in Medicare without receiving social security?

You can, but if you plan to do so, be vigilant about enrollment deadlines because Social Security will not automatically sign you up for Medicare benefits. 

Although Social Security and Medicare are not the same programs, the Social Security Administration is the party that completes enrollment for Original Medicare (Plans A and B). Therefore, if you choose not to receive Social Security benefits but still want Medicare benefits, you'll need to enroll yourself. 

Instead of relying on automatic enrollment, you'll complete the process either online, through calling the Social Security office, or by contacting a Medicare professional.

5. How do I enroll in Medicare?

You can use the Social Security Administration's online application to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare is generally available for any individual approaching or at the age of 65. And in some cases, people under the age of 65 might qualify because of specific disabilities. You can check your eligibility using our Medicare Eligibility Check.

6. What if I'm still working and have employer insurance?

Your company size will determine how you approach Medicare if you're still working and have employer coverage. 

If you find that you have group health coverage, you might be able to delay Parts A and B and avoid the lifetime late enrollment penalty for enrolling later.

7. Does Medicare cover expenses when I travel?

The Medicare.gov website offers details on which expenses Medicare will cover when you are traveling

However, it is essential to note that in most cases, Medicare does not cover health care that is accessed outside the United States. The administration defines outside the U.S. as "…anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands." 

Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, have their own coverage details, and some may cover your healthcare expenses when you travel. 

It’s important to access how often you plan to travel in this stage of life and factor that in when choosing your Medicare plan.

8. I’m turning 65 soon, what should I do?

Turning 65 is a big milestone – congrats! Nevertheless, turning 65 can come with a lot of changes.

Here are a few action items and Florida programs/resources you should look into as you approach 65:

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