I called the national Social Security phone line last week to discuss survivor benefits. (More on that later.) Of course, the person I spoke with could not actually process my claim. Instead, he had to schedule a future telephone appointment to do that, with my local Social Security office. The first available appointment time was in August. Keep that in mind if you need to apply for a benefit that cannot be processed online. Before I called to file a claim, I did a lot of research on what I was about to do. Given my circumstances, determining the optimum filing strategy was quite complicated.
The closer I get to age 65, the more curious I become about Medicare. Earlier in my retirement thinking (perhaps five or ten years ago), I casually made some assumptions about Medicare – both positive and negative – that turned out to be untrue. This earlier thinking was generally along this incorrect path: Medicare is free, covers most everything an older person would need, but finding providers who would accept Medicare would be difficult. Now my thinking about Medicare is more accurate but there are still some myths out there.
A difficult task in retirement planning and budgeting is estimating health care costs. We know those costs will be significant compared to our earlier years. That is one of the downsides of growing old. But it is important to have some idea what you can expect to pay for health care as a retiree. Only by having that knowledge can you understand and project what your retirement income needs will be. [Read more…]
When are you eligible for Medicare and when can you sign up? These are questions that many boomers are starting to think about as the date approaches. Although entitlement programs such as Medicare are likely to change because of funding problems, those changes are more likely to affect younger generations. [Read more…]