Michael J. Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, joined award-winning actress Patty Duke and the cast of her hit 1960s sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show," on March 23 to unveil Social Security's newest online service an application for Medicare benefits.
"We are continuing to look for ways to improve our existing online services and to add new services that make it easy for people to do business with Social Security," said Astrue. "Providing the public with the best online services in the government and private sectors is one of our top priorities." To see all of Social Security's online services, go to (www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices).
This new online Medicare application, which takes less than 10 minutes to complete, is for people reaching the Medicare eligibility age of 65 who want to delay filing for Social Security retirement benefits. Currently about a half million Americans enroll in Medicare each year without applying for monthly Social Security benefits.
People receiving monthly SSA benefits are automatically contacted about Medicare before they reach age 65, earlier if receiving disability. People not already receiving SSA benefits should contact Social Security about three to four months before their 65th birthday to enroll in Medicare. With this new application, you can file for Medicare online from your own home or office without waiting for an appointment. The online Medicare application provides you another service option for completing your business with Social Security but, if preferred, you can telephone the SSA national number, 800-772-1213 or TTY 800-325-0778, or your local office for an appointment.
Specific information about the new Medicare online application is at (www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly). As an overview, you are asked a brief series of questions. If you have a question or need additional information, there are convenient "more information" links. When finished, just click the "Sign Now" button to submit the application. There are no paper forms to sign and usually no additional documents are required. If more information is needed, Social Security will contact you by phone or letter. The online Medicare application can be used by people who are at least 64 years and 8 months old wanting to sign up for Medicare but who do not want to start receiving SSA Security benefits in the next four months. To apply for Medicare online you must live in the United States or one of its territories or commonwealths.
No matter your preferred method of Medicare enrollment, consult in advance with your employer based health insurance provider and decide if you need Medicare Medical coverage (Part B) immediately or not. Consider also using the Social Security "Plan Your Retirement" tools at (www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2) to be sure a "Medicare only" decision is best for you. Remember that you can apply to start your Social Security retirement and enroll in Medicare online too if that is your decision. A demonstration of the online Retirement application is in the "Plan Your Retirement" section.
General Medicare information is on the SSA Web site (www.socialsecurity.gov). Detailed coverage information is on the Medicare Web site (www.medicare.gov).
Contact the Social Security Administration in several ways. Visit the SSA Web site at (www.socialsecurity.gov) for information, retirement planning tools, online applications and Business Services Online. Call the SSA national toll-free number 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for information about your benefits or to make an appointment. To reach the Minot office directly, call 852-0604 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Questions of general interest can be sent to him at email@example.com.