Social Security and Medicare, working side by side
Social Security and Medicare have worked side by side for decades. Both programs have improved the quality of life for millions of Americans.
Social Security reaches almost every family and, at some point, touches the lives of nearly all Americans. We’re with you through life’s journey — from birth to your golden years. Social Security helps older Americans, workers who become disabled, and families in which a spouse or parent dies. In 2017, about 174 million people worked and paid Social Security taxes and about 62 million people received monthly Social Security benefits.
We want you to understand what Social Security can mean to you and your family’s financial future. The publication, Understanding the Benefits, explains the basics of the Social Security retirement, disability, and survivors insurance programs. You can read it at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10024.pdf.
Unlike workers in the private sector, not all state or local government employees are covered by Social Security. Some only have their public pension coverage, and other government employees have both a public pension and Social Security coverage. For more information, please read our publication titled “How State and Local Government Employees are Covered by Social Security and Medicare” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10051.pdf.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and certain younger people with disabilities. It is also for people with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and some preventive services.
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage plans may also include Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. Some people with limited resources and income may also be able to get Extra Help with the costs — monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments — related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,900 per year. You must meet the resources and income requirements.
When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.
You can learn more about Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare.