Most people who are about to retire have very little working knowledge about Medicare, and when they should enroll. A recent article in the New York Times highlights when you must enroll in order to prevent penalties.
In a nutshell, you normally have seven months — the month in which you turn 65 and the three months both before and after it — to apply for Part B without penalty. This is true even if your normal retirement age is 66 or 67. However, if you are still employed at age 65, and working at a company or organization with 20 or more employees (or your spouse is), and covered by an employee health plan, you may not need Part B yet. Instead of paying premiums, it could make financial sense to hold off. But it’s important to know that after losing employee coverage — due to retirement, layoffs or any other reason — you have an eight-month “special enrollment period” to sign up for Part B.
Knowing what medical terms in medical records mean can be critical to your client’s Social Security disability claim. We recently had a case involving primarily back problems. The treating physician completed a medical source statement indicating that the claimant was experiencing pain at a level that would seriously interfere with the timely completion of job tasks. To support this, the doctor wrote, among other things, that his patient had an “abnormal gait.”
The Administrative Law Judge dismissed the doctor’s opinions, and found that the claimant was not disabled. In particular, the Judge found that the doctor could not be believed because the doctor’s own records repeatedly indicated that the patient did not have an “ataxic” gait.
We ended up appealing the case to Federal District Court, pointing out in our brief to the Court that the hearing Judge apparently did not understand the terms “ataxia” or “ataxic” gait. Ataxia is a neurological condition which describes a lack of muscle control or coordination, and usually is the result of damage to the part of the brain which controls coordination. An “antalgic gait,” on the other hand, is a limping gait adopted so as to avoid pain on weight-bearing structures. Therefore, a person can have an antalgic (abnormal) gait, and yet not have an ataxic gait.
The Court agreed, and reversed the decision of the hearing Judge on that basis.
Have you ever wondered what the best time is to start collecting Social Security –
should you do it as soon as you turn 62? Or, does it make more sense to wait until your
“full retirement age” (either 65, 66 or 67, depending on when you were born)? Or, are
you better off waiting until age 70?
There’s a big financial advantage for those who wait. For each year past your full
retirement age that you can put off applying for Social Security, your monthly check will
increase by 8 percent.
For example, let’s say you aim to retire next month at 62, having worked 40 years and
ending up with a final salary of $80,000. Your benefit would come to around $1,455 a
month, according to Social Security’s website. But if you could wait and keep working
until 66, your full retirement age, you’d get $2,074 a month. And, if you can wait till age
70, your benefit would be $2,833 — almost double the check you would get at 62.