Can My Wife Apply For Spousal Benefits And Not Apply For Part A Of Medicare?

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Jul 13 2019 - 8:29pm

I am 70 and am self-employed and am drawing social security benefits from my account. My wife was born in 1951 and is still working (at a community college employer which has over 20 employees). She plans to retire in January 2020 at which point she will switch to a medical plan through the educational retirement board. She has been working continuously since she was in high school. She recently learned that she could draw a benefit equal to 1/2 of my benefit. She went to the Social Security office and explained that she would like to draw an amount equal to 1/2 of my benefit (and based on my benefit, not hers) until she turns 70 in April 2021 when she will apply for her retirement insurance benefit. The Soc Sec team member, according to my wife, became a bit confused and disappeared into the back to consult with her boss. The Soc Sec team member came back and said, yes, you would be entitled to receive ~$1,100/month, but you would be required to sign up for Medicare Part A as a condition of the Restricted Application. However, my wife has excellent group coverage with her employer and does NOT wish to sign up for Part A in the course of her applying for the $1,100/mo benefit. My question is whether my wife can apply for the $1,100 spousal benefit but NOT apply for Part A. The benefits person at the community college told my wife that when Soc Sec issues her a letter of acceptance my wife would bring it and then she would be dropped from the college's plan. I called someone at my wife's insurance company who said that switching out of a very good group plan into the individual market would not be a good idea, and I believe her. If my wife would be required to sign up for a red white and blue Part A and Part B, could she not do that, and simply move forward with two policies and simply use the college's plan which includes an excellent prescription drug benefit? Yes, she would have a few hundred bucks/mo deducted from the SIB check but we would still be money ahead. Thank you!

Hi,

No, since your wife is at least age 65 she couldn't file for monthly Social Security benefits on either your record or her own record without automatically being enrolled in Part A of Medicare. She would not be required to sign up for any other part of Medicare, though, and her Part A Medicare coverage would be premium free.

If your wife's employer group health insurance plan covers at least 20 employees, they can't terminate her coverage simply because she enrolls in Medicare. Your wife could choose to continue her employer coverage even if she enrolls in Medicare, and her employer plan would then continue to be her primary coverage for as long as she continues working.

As long as your wife continues her employer coverage she could delay enrolling in Part B of Medicare until she retires, at which time she could enroll without any penalties for late enrollment. You may want to read the following article written by Phil Moeller, who co-authored Larry's book 'Get What's Yours - The Secrets To Maxing Out Your Social Security (Revised Edition)', for more information: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/making-sense/working-after-65-what-....

Best, Jerry