What You Need to Know About Medicare if You're Retiring


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As someone approaches retirement age, many questions arise. A lot of those questions are related to when it's time to apply for benefits, especially Medicare. "When should I sign up?" "What isn't covered by Medicare?" These and other questions can make the process very confusing. Start learning what you need to know about Medicare if you're retiring!

Qualifying for Medicare

While working, a Medicare tax comes out of your paycheck each month. After you turn 65, you become eligible for Part A benefits. However, to be eligible for Part A benefits, you must have contributed enough to earn 40 credits, which works out to be about ten years of contributions through your earnings. If you have not met the required amount of credits, you may be able to qualify on the work record of a spouse. If you are unable to qualify, you can choose a Part A plan and pay a monthly premium. Part A helps pay for inpatient care, skilled nursing facilities after a hospital stay, hospice care and some at-home care. You can consider Part A coverage as your hospital insurance plan.

Part B coverage helps pay for doctor care and supplies that are not covered by hospital insurance. Part D coverage assists in paying for prescription medications. To qualify for Part B and D coverage, you must be 65 years or older and be an American citizen or a legal resident of the United States for a minimum of five years.


Do you qualify for Part A coverage?

  • Are you 65 years of age or older?
  • Have you earned 40 credits? 
  • Has your spouse (deceased, alive or divorced) earned enough credits?

Do you qualify for Part B or D coverage?

  • Are you 65 years of age or older?
  • Are you an American citizen or legal resident of the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years?

Are you not sure if you are eligible for Medicare? Determine if you are with this eligibility calculator!

Where Can I Sign up for Medicare?

Wouldn't it be nice if you could simply call Medicare to sign up? Unfortunately, that's not how it works. The Social Security Administration handles Medicare enrollment, eligibility issues and penalties. If you are already receiving your Social Security benefits at the time you go to sign up for Medicare, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you are not receiving Social Security, you must apply for Medicare. If you'd like to apply for Medicare, you can either call your local Social Security office or visit their website.

Preventative Care

In the first 12 months that a person has Medicare Part B, they receive a free preventative care visit at their doctor's office. After the first year, you are then eligible for an annual wellness visit to your doctor to create a personalized health care plan. This is an excellent opportunity for people who might not have the ability to to come up with a prevention and health promotion plan before becoming a part of Medicare.

Besides the wellness exams, Medicare now has many free preventive services that do not require a deductible. However, if an issue is found in the preventative service, then you will have to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the service.

What Isn't Covered by Medicare

In a Part A or Part B plan, Medicare doesn't cover everything. For some instances, you will have to pay for services unless you have supplemental insurance or you're in a Medicare health plan (Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan). Some of the services not covered by Medicare include:

  • Dental care
  • Eye examinations
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Acupuncture
  • Hearing aids and the fitting exams
  • Routine foot care

Will Medicare Cover Living Expenses?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not pay for senior care. This can include assisted living, residential care homes and any long-term care. Medicare should be just be viewed as health insurance for short-term care. What is considered short-term care? Hospitalization, rehabilitation at a nursing home after hospitalization and home rehab therapy are all considered short-term care under Medicare.

Plan With Creekside Retirement Community

Though we can't plan all of your retirement for you, we can help you enjoy it! At Creekside Retirement Community, we provide assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, and rehab therapy. Whether you're looking for a little help when needed or comprehensive 24-hour care, Creekside Retirement Community can meet your needs. Discover how Creekside is the right place for you to live worry-free.