Questions? Social Security has answers

Apr 21st, 2016 | By | Category: News

Question: 

What is the monthly premium for Medicare Part B?

Answer:

The standard Medicare Part B premium for medical insurance in 2016 is $121.90.

Some people who collect Social Security benefits and have their Part B premiums deducted from their payment will pay less. This is because there was not a cost of living increase this year for Social Security benefits. Social Security will send a letter to all people who collect Social Security benefits (and those who pay higher premiums because of their income) that states each person’s exact Part B premium amount for 2016.
Since 2007, higher-income beneficiaries have paid a larger percentage of their Medicare Part B premium than most. Depending on their income, these higher-income beneficiaries will pay premiums that amount to 35, 50, 65 or 80 percent of the total cost of coverage. The true cost of Part B each month is $487.60 per month in 2016.  However, most of that cost is covered by the government.

You can get details at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (TTY 1-877-486-2048).

Question:

What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit?

Answer:

The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2016, your maximum monthly benefit would be $2,663. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2016, your maximum monthly benefit would be only $2,025. If you retire at age 70 in 2016, your maximum monthly benefit would be $3,501.

To get a better idea of what your benefit might be, visit the online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire/estimator.html.

Question:

I will rely on Medicare when I retire.Can you explain the different parts of Medicare?

Answer:
The different parts of Medicare cover your specific needs. There are four parts, all of which work in tandem to deliver healthcare services:

  • Part A (hospital insurance). This helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled-nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home healthcare, and hospice care.
  • Part B (medical insurance). Helps pay for doctors’ services and other medical services and supplies that hospital insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage plans). If you have Parts A and B, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. Private companies offer Medicare Advantage plans which are approved by Medicare. These plans generally help you pay the medical costs not covered by Medicare Part A and B.
  • Part D (prescription drug coverage). Prescription drug coverage helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

Question:

I prefer reading by audio book. Does Social Security have audio publications?

Answer:

Yes, we have many helpful publications you can listen to. You can find them at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Some of the publications include “What You Can Do Online,” “How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Die,” “Apply Online for Social Security Benefits,” and “Your Social Security Card and Number.” You can listen now at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Question:

How are my retirement benefits calculated?

Answer:

Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age.

You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator, which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

 

Kirk Larson, who wrote this article, is a public affairs specialist for Social Security in western Washington.

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