What Should I Do When I Turn 65?

Turning 65 is a milestone to be celebrated. It also comes with a few important steps since this age qualifies you for certain benefits. Read more here!

Turning 65 is a milestone to be celebrated. It also comes with a few important steps since this age qualifies you for certain benefits. You’ve likely heard that turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare go hand in hand—but is that true for everyone, and what else needs to be done? Here are some steps you can take as your birthday approaches.

Your checklist for turning 65

1. Plan for your Medicare enrollment period

The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a seven-month stretch spanning from three months before you turn 65, your birthday month, and three months after. Signing up during this window can help you avoid penalties for late enrollment. While you can hold off on enrolling in Medicare if you have health insurance through an employer, you may wind up paying higher premiums later as a penalty.

If you opted to receive Social Security benefits ahead of time, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A, which encompasses hospital insurance, and Medicare Part B, or medical insurance. Anyone who hasn’t begun receiving Social Security benefits can apply online, by phone, or at a local Social Security office.

2. Consider Medigap or Medicare Advantage

While Original Medicare covers many medical expenses, you’ll still need to pay copayments and deductibles out of pocket. These expenses can add up, and since there’s no limit on them, it makes sense to look for other coverage to offset the costs.

Medigap is one option to consider. Also known as Medicare supplement insurance policies, these plans are offered by private insurers and come with a variety of options. You can also consider Medicare Advantage (Part C), an alternative to Medicare Parts A and B provided by private insurance companies. It covers everything that traditional Medicare does along with options for added coverage, including dental, vision, and prescription drugs.

3. Choose your prescription plan

Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover prescription drugs the same way traditional health insurance does. For that reason, many people also enroll in Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) when turning 65. Medicare Part D plans are also available with many options, so it’s important to shop around and compare deductibles and copayments. If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll find that most already include prescription drug coverage.

4. Decide on Social Security benefits

The Social Security Administration considers you to be of Full Retirement Age when you’re 66 years and 2 months old. At that stage, you can begin receiving 100% of your benefits. If you wait, however, your monthly benefits increase. Now is a good time to begin crunching some numbers to decide when you should start receiving your benefits.

5. Look into discounts and tax breaks

In addition to Medicare, turning 65 qualifies you for other benefits from the government, too. For example, you may be eligible for property tax deductions, and the standard deduction typically increases when filing your taxes as well.

Beyond the deductions you receive from the IRS, you might also want to look into other discounts. From retail stores to airlines and other travel companies, there are many companies that offer perks for seniors.

6. Visit your doctor

Since you’re already making healthcare decisions, your 65th birthday is also a good time to check in with your medical provider. There are several screenings and vaccinations recommended for seniors, so be sure to talk to your doctor about any tests, shots, or boosters you should schedule.

7. Organize financial and legal documents

Your healthcare coverage is changing, so your financial and legal documents may also need to be updated. Review your retirement plans to make sure your investments represent your financial goals and that any details about beneficiaries are correct. It’s also a good time to see if you need to make any changes to your will, power of attorney, or other estate planning documents. Consider creating one comprehensive list of all your accounts and putting it in a safe place.  

Turning 65 is the start of an important chapter in your life. You handle the celebration, and we’ll help you with everything else. Call (888) 443-5336 (TTY: 711) to talk with a Medicare advisor.

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