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Medicare and Social Security

In the United States, Social Security and Medicare are two of the most recognized government programs.  Each was designed to be a protective measure to safeguard the health and financial well-being of the most at-risk Americans, senior citizens. Both programs have structured guidelines about when you are eligible to enroll or if you choose to postpone enrollment. They are separate programs and you do not have to elect to take them at the same time.  However, the Medicare program and Social Security often work together to serve their beneficiaries.

Social Security was created as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal by the Social Security Act of 1935 to give financial help to seniors during the Great Depression. It acts as a type of economic support of national retirement and, eventually, disability pension, in the form of monthly payments from the government. The amount of the payment is calculated based on your income over a period of years prior to collecting.  You have the option of starting to collect as early as age 62.  However, the payment is lowered if you collect earlier than your full retirement age, which is now 66 and 10 months for people turning 65 in 2024.  Many people are putting off retirement until their SS full retirement age. 

Medicare is the United States Federal health insurance program created in 1965, for people who are 65 or older. It is also available for certain people younger than 65 with disabilities or people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Original Medicare consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) and Part D (Prescription Drug Plan).  There are out-of-pocket deductibles and coinsurance costs for Medicare Part A and Part B. These out-of-pocket costs can be reduced by completing your coverage with a Medicare Supplement or opting to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. 

How does SS and Medicare work together? Enrollment in Medicare and payment of any premiums is influenced by whether you are collecting Social Security or not.  If you’re receiving Social Security benefits when you become eligible for Medicare, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Any premium cost associated with Original Medicare Part A, B or D can be automatically deducted from your Social Security benefit. 

If you are not collecting Social Security yet, you will need to enroll in Medicare.  You can do this by establishing an account online at, calling Social Security 1-800-772-1213 or going in person to your local Social Security Office.  You will be billed quarterly for any premium cost associated with Part A, B or D of Medicare.

Many people delay enrolling in Medicare and Social Security because they continue working past the age of 65.  Some may need to continue health insurance coverage for other family members, while Medicare is only single coverage for those who qualify.  If you can choose to continue your health insurance coverage through your employer because of necessity, or it’s a better deal than your Medicare Plan options as far as cost and benefits, you can bypass your initial enrollment period (aging in at age 65).  You will be entitled to a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) when you retire and discontinue your employer coverage.  You will need to show proof of coverage when enrolling in Medicare at this later time.

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