Countdown to Retirement

Social Security and Medicare Benefits
  • An annual Social Security Statement is automatically sent to anyone age 25 or older. Review your most recent statement to verify your earnings.
  • Begin the application process to collect Social Security at least three months before you expect to receive benefits. This way you can be sure that you'll begin receiving checks the month you do actually retire. You are automatically eligible to receive Part A, Medicare Hospital Insurance, when you apply for Social Security benefits. If you are not eligible for Social Security benefits, you may voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part A at your nearest Social Security office. You must be age 65 or over, enrolled in Part B, and pay the monthly premiums.
  • Consider signing up for Medicare Part B benefits (optional). If you are planning to retire at age 65, enroll during the three months prior to your 65th birthday. You will then be eligible for benefits on your 65th birthday. If you wait to enroll during the month of your 65th birthday, coverage will start on the first day of the following month. If you enroll within the three months following your 65th birthday, you'll have to wait up to three months before you're covered, depending on the month you enroll. See the section Bridging the Retirement Insurance Gap for more details on when you must apply.
  • If you plan to work in retirement, determine the impact your earnings will have on your Social Security benefits. See the section Social Security—How Much Can You Earn without Reducing Your Benefits? for more information.
  • If you choose the traditional fee-for-service Medicare coverage, shop around for a Medigap policy. The best time to buy a Medigap policy is as soon as your Medicare coverage begins. See the section Bridging the Retirement Insurance Gap for more information.
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