“Hello, Stephanie—I’m 66 and was intending to work until 70. I was recently laid off from my employer due to the Coronavirus epidemic. I’m no longer going to have health insurance through my employer, and now I’m scared and don’t know what to do about health insurance. The HR department is not in the office and hasn’t been able to guide me. I know that I have to apply for Medicare, but with everything closed I don’t know what to do. I have not applied for any Parts of Medicare and I’m not currently drawing Social Security. I’m trying to hold off on Social Security until age 70. Please, help me figure this out. I’m so confused and scared to get penalized or be without health coverage. What should I do? Thank you—Herbert from Humble, TX.”

Hello Herbert,

This is an increasing concern for many Americans today. Many are either turning 65 or getting laid off from their employers. What follows is the best guidance I’m able to offer. Many employers and HR employees are working remotely from home. Contact your employer and speak to your HR department. You will need to complete two forms: one is an Application for Enrollment into Medicare Part B (CMS-40B); the second is a Request for Employment Information (CMS-L564). You must fill out the forms and have the paperwork signed by your employer, which will indicate that you’ve been on “True Creditable” coverage. Doing so will prevent you from incurring a penalty fee from Medicare. Once you’ve signed the forms, then write the following at the top of the form in RED letters—“Special Enrollment Period”. You have only a 63-day window to sign-up for Part D and an 8- month window to sign-up for Part B. However, given the chaotic goings-on surrounding Covid-19, you need to move on this ASAP. Contact the Social Security Administration Office at 1(800) 772-1213, and navigate the automated system to secure an appointment. The SSA will schedule the appointment for you with no options on time or day. Make sure to write down the time and day that SSA will be calling you back. All Social Security employees are currently working remotely from home. Make them aware that this is your first time enrolling in Medicare and that you have a “SEP—Special Enrollment Period”; SEP being the key term that will allow you to enroll into Medicare without incurring a penalty fee. SEP also affords you the privilege to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan without having to answer any medical questions.

If you need the form mailed to you, then please call Secure Your Legacy at (832) 953-4229. Alternately, you can download and print the proper documents from the following links:

Enrollment for Part B:  https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS40B-E.pdf

Request for Employment Information:  https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS-L564E.pdf

All documents will need to be signed and mailed to the Social Security Administration Office. For purposes of verification and reference, be sure to make copies of everything that you are submitting to the SSA Office. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, enrollment may be somewhat delayed. As long as you have mailed your information and have proof of documentation, then you should be okay. However, you must not delay in acquiring and submitting the abovementioned forms. Time is of the essence.

For more information, please visit us at /medicare/, or call Secure Your Legacy’s office at (832) 953-4229.

Hope this helps.

Stephanie Salcedo