National Asian Pacific Center On Aging (NAPCA)

National Asian Pacific Center On Aging (NAPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of AANHPI older adults and their families.  We operate a NAPCA Senior Assistance Center for Older Adults and Caregivers which is available in five (5) different languages.  In this column, we want to share some of the important questions we received from readers.  Hope you will find them useful.

Q1. My husband is turning 65 soon and he is still working. He and I are covered by his employer’s medical insurance. He does not have 40 working quarter credits yet. Do we still need to join Medicare?

Most people sign up for both Medicare Part A and Part B when they turn 65. However, if they do not have more than 40 working credits that allow them to get premium-free Part A, they must pay $278 (30-39 credits) or $506 (less than 30 credits) per month.

If your husband’s employer has more than 20 employees and employer-sponsored insurance is “creditable”, he may delay signing up for Medicare until he stops working or loses the current employer coverage whichever comes first. He will not pay a penalty for delaying enrollment.

Whether delaying Medicare or enrolling in Medicare, he should check his coverage policy with his employer before making his decision.

Q2. What happens if I work and get Social Security retirement benefits?

You can get Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time. However, if you are younger than FRA (Full Retirement Age which is between 65 and 67 depending on the year you were born) and make more than the yearly earnings limit, your benefit will be reduced. If you are younger than FRA during all of 2023, Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn above $21,240. If you turn FRA during 2023, your benefit is deducted $1 for each $3 you earn above $56,520 before your birth month. Starting with the month you reach FRA, your benefits will not be reduced no matter how much you earn.

Q3. Should I pay taxes on Social Security benefits when I work while receiving retirement benefits?

Some people must payfederal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits. The portion of benefits that are taxable depends on your COMBINED INCOME* and filing status.

If you file as an individual;

1) you pay no tax on your benefits when your combined income is below $25,000,

2) you pay taxes on 50% of your benefits when your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000,

3) you pay taxes on 85% of your benefits when your combined income is more than $34,000.

If you file as a joint return;

1) you pay no tax on your benefits when you and your spouse have combined income below $32,000,

2) you pay taxes on 50% of your benefits when you and your spouse have combined income between $32,000 and $44,000,

3) you pay taxes on 85% of your benefits when you and your spouse have combined income more than $44,000.

*COMBINED INCOME = Your adjusted gross income + Nontaxable interest + ½ of your Social Security benefits

Q4. I have been a legal permanent resident for over 15 years. My husband worked at a job during all those years. I did not work because he wanted me to stay at home and raise our three children. Last year my husband divorced me. My children are grown so he does not have to pay me anything. Am I eligible for Social Security or Medicare?

Yes, as a divorced spouse you are entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A and collect Social Security Benefits based on your husband’s work credits. If you have been married for over 10 years and remain unmarried after being divorced, you can apply for Social Security Benefits when you turn 62 and premium-free Medicare Part A when you turn 65.

Q5. I am over 70 and it has been just over 5 years since I received permanent resident status. Now I am qualified to sign up for Medicare and I found that I must pay high monthly premiums because of the lack of Social Security working credits, but I cannot afford it. Should I still sign up for Medicare or can I keep my current individual plan that I got through the Health Insurance Marketplace?

If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A and are not enrolled in Medicare yet, you can keep your current individual Marketplace plan and premium tax credit benefits. However, if you choose to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B later, you will have to wait to sign up and you may have to pay late enrollment penalties.

Depending on your state’s income and asset limit, you may be eligible for Medicare Savings Program (MSP), which can help you pay Medicare part A/part B premiums. To be eligible for MSP, you must enroll in Medicare. Please check your eligibility with the Medicaid office in your state.

If you have additional questions regarding the above, or around the topics of Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, or others, there are three ways you can reach us.  We will answer all of your questions in a timely manner.

Call our Senior Assistance Center at 1-800-336-2772


Mail: NAPCA Senior Assistance Center, 1511 Third Avenue, Suite 914, Seattle, WA 98101

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