By now, you’re probably familiar with both the social Security and Medicare programs that you may be offered as you reach your retirement. These are both great financial aids for you and your older years. As you look at your options pertaining to the two of them, you may begin asking yourself what the large difference between the two is and whether having one will affect your chances of gaining the other. There are a lot of questions you have to address with insurance and financial programs, but it all starts with discovering the basics.
So, what is the difference between Social Security and Medicare?
In this article, we’re going to cover:
- What they do for you
- How one may affect the other
- Things to keep in mind
What they do
Medicare is a health insurance plan that is offered to seniors or those who qualify through their disability. It’s broken up into four parts that tailor to the recipient’s needs: Parts A, B, C and D. Generally, a recipient is 65 years old and has a specified period of time in which he or she can enroll in Medicare.
Social Security is a benefit program that is run by the federal government. Generally, the earliest a recipient is able to start collecting his or her Social Security benefits is at 62 years old, assuming he or she meets the other specified qualifications.
To be eligible for Social Security, you must be working and paying the Social Security taxes. Although you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for Social Security, you must work in order to earn the benefits. This is translated into having 40 credits, which you can gather as you pay the Social Security tax on your earnings. You can earn up to four credits per year, equating to 10 years’ worth of work.
To be eligible for Medicare, you must have been working long enough to be able to receive Social Security benefits. You must also be a citizen of the United States. The final qualification for Medicare doesn’t apply to everyone, but it may apply to you. You may also be eligible for Medicare if you or your spouse is a government employee who hasn’t paid into Social Security but has been paying payroll taxes for Medicare.
You may have already known about the basic functions that the two offers, but you may still be wondering about what makes the two similar. Let’s dive into that.
The similarities between Social Security and Medicare
The first similarity is one we briefly touched on earlier, and that is that the two are federally funded. It’s also important to note that the two aren’t exclusive to those who are approaching retirement age. The two programs also provide benefits to those who have disabilities.
According to the federal government, you can qualify for Medicare below the age of 65 if you:
- Have been entitled to Social Security benefits for at least 24 months. These months do not have to be consecutive.
- You receive a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board and meet certain conditions.
- You have Lou Gehrig’s disease. This is formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- You have permanent kidney failure.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can qualify for Social Security benefits as a child if you are unmarried and:
- Younger than 18.
- 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12).
- 18 or older that began before the age of 22.
In special cases, benefits can also be awarded to stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren or adopted children if they:
- Have at least one parent who is disabled or retired and eligible for Social Security benefits.
- Have a parent who has passed away after working long enough to earn enough credits at a job where he or she has paid Social Security taxes.
The final core similarity between the two is the enrollment. Believe it or not, you must enroll for both programs through the Social Security Administration. On the SSA’s website, you can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits, as well as check the status your applications or appeals.
How one may affect the other
Although the two programs offer different things to recipients, there are a couple of ways in which the two programs work in tandem. Here are some examples:
- If you’re already receiving Social Security, you will have automatic enrollment into Medicare Part B. You can receive Social Security benefit as early as 62, but you cannot enroll in Medicare until three months prior to your 65th birthday. So, if you began collecting your Social Security early, you will be enrolled into Medicare Part B when you are first eligible.
- Medicare premiums can be deducted from your Social Security benefits. Part A of Medicare is free for most people, but you are expected to pay premiums for Part B, your medical coverage. However, you can deduct your Part B premium from your Social Security payment. Let’s say you receive $1,800 a month from Social Security, and your Medicare Part B premium is $200 a month. That means you will receive $1,600 as your payment.
Things to keep in mind
Many people confuse Medicare with Social Security, and it’s easy to do so. Noting the similarities and differences between the two is important to know because that core understanding will help you maximize your plans to your benefit. But there are also a few other things you need to keep in mind while you consider the relationship between the two.
First, you can begin your Social Security benefits anytime between 62 and 70. And, unlike Medicare, it’s encouraged – if you are healthy and able – that you receive your payments as close to 70 as you can, because that way, you will earn a higher paycheck. With Medicare, however, it is important to enroll during that initial enrollment period, which begins three months before you turn 65 and lasts until three months after you turn 65. Otherwise, you face permanent penalties.
You also want to keep in mind the fact that you do not have to be receiving Social Security benefits to enroll in Medicare, nor do you need to be enrolled in Medicare to receive Social Security benefits.
If you are not enrolled in Medicare, then it is important to determine what the important enrollment dates are. You are first eligible for Medicare when you are just about to turn 65. If you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, then there is still time. You can enroll during the Annual enrollment Period, which is held annually from October 15 through December 7.
If you have any remaining confusion about how Social Security and Medicare share a relationship, let us help you. At The Best Senior Services, we specialize in educating seniors about programs that apply to them and their loved ones and connecting them to a local licensed agent who will help seniors get what they need at their best interest. Don’t delay any longer. Call us at 855.979.8277, or visit our website today.