Donors Help Washington County Community Foundation Award Over $28K in Grants

The Humane Society of Washington County will be acquiring a new van thanks to a $2500 grant from the PNC Touch Tomorrow Fund and Salem ACE Hardware Touch Tomorrow Fund. The Humane Society is partnering with surrounding counties to purchase the van that will be used to transport pets that have not been adopted or whose owners have not claimed them from the City of Salem animal shelter to more highly populated areas.

The LJ Fultz/Russell Trueblood Touch Tomorrow Fund and David Beck Touch Tomorrow have issued a$5000 grant for Afterschool Tutoring to CAST (Creating Avenues for Student Transformation). CAST provides free after school opportunities that help to bridge the gap between school hours and home hours in new and engaging ways for Salem Middle School students.  The program offers personalized tutoring, homework help, healthy snacks, recreation, and character education.

Washington County Special Olympics will be using new technology due to a $1000 grant from the Bob and Carol Strange Touch Tomorrow Fund and the First Harrison Bank Touch Tomorrow Fund. The grant will be used for an IPad Pro and IPad Pro pencil to record data for the organization and assist in keeping paperwork more organized.

The Glenn Armstrong Touch Tomorrow Fund and the John M. Colglazier Touch Tomorrow Fund have awarded a $2500 grant to Junior Achievement. Grant funds will be used for educational financial literacy programs in all three county school systems. 

The Bob and Clarice Morris Touch Tomorrow Fund is helping the Washington County Senior Citizen Housing Board upgrade the roofs at Meadow Dell apartments. The $10000 grant from the fund will be used for roof replacement of at least six apartment buildings with Energy Star rated shingles.

United Way 2-1-1 will once again serve Washington County thanks to a $1203.76 grant from the Salem Mortgage Touch Tomorrow Fund and James and Diana Apple Touch Tomorrow Fund. United Way 2-1-1 is a referral service connecting people in need to community resources.

The Bob and Clarice Morris Touch Tomorrow Fund along with the Ron and Deb Mays Touch Tomorrow Fund and the Jeff and Karen Morgan Touch Tomorrow Fund have awarded a $6000 grant to Dare to Care Food Bank for the Backpack Buddy program. The program ensures children from low-income households receive proper nutrition on weekends.

Flu Vaccines Designed Specifically for Seniors

 

Are there any specific flu shots that are better suited for seniors? I just turned 65 and would like to find out what's recommended and how Medicare covers it.
There are actually two different flu vaccines available this year that are designed specifically for seniors age 65 and older. One option is the Fluzone High-Dose, which has been available since 2010. The other is the new FDA approved FLUAD vaccine (you only need to get one of these).
The Fluzone High-Dose (see Fluzone.com) is a high-potency vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot does, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. The new FLUAD vaccine (FLUAD.com) contains an added ingredient called adjuvant MF59 that also helps create a stronger immune response.
The extra protection these vaccines provide is particularly helpful to seniors who have weaker immune defenses and have a great risk of developing dangerous flu complications. The CDC estimates that the flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills an average of 24,000 — 80% to 90% of whom are seniors.
But be aware that both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD are not recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs or those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You should also know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one vaccination over the other; and to date, there have been no studies comparing the two vaccines.
If you decide you don't want to get a senior-specific flu shot, there are other options available to people 65 years and older including the standard (trivalent) flu shot, the quadrivalent flu shot that protects against four different flu viruses and the FluBlok vaccine for those who have egg allergies.
To locate a vaccination site that offers any of these flu shots, visit Vaccines.gov and type in your ZIP code. You'll also be happy to know that as a Medicare beneficiary, Part B will cover 100% of the costs of any flu shot as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays.

Pneumonia Vaccines

Two other important vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around one million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and about 50,000 people die from it.
The CDC is now recommending that all seniors, 65 or older, get two vaccinations —Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered just once at different times, work in different ways to provide maximum protection.
If you haven't yet received any pneumococcal vaccine you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 six to 12 months later. But if you've already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23, wait at least one year before getting the Prevnar 13.
Medicare Part B covers both shots, if they are taken at least 11 months apart.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published October 7, 2016

How and When to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

 

What is the easiest way to apply for my Social Security retirement benefits and how far in advance do I need to apply before I start collecting?
The Social Security Administration offers three different ways you can apply for your (or your spouse's) retirement benefits depending on your preference and how much help you need. Here's a rundown of the options, along with information that explains how and when to apply.

How to Apply?

The easiest and most convenient way to apply for your Social Security benefits is to fill out the application yourself online at SocialSecurity.gov. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete the application, as long as you've gathered all of the required information and documentation (more on that at the bottom of the column).
If, however, you'd rather have a Social Security employee assist with the process, you can call 800-772-1213 to apply on the phone or you can visit your local Social Security office. If you apply in person, be sure to call ahead and schedule an appointment to reduce your office wait time.
Whichever method you feel most comfortable using, your application will be reviewed and processed as soon as all necessary documentation and information is received. The Social Security Administration will notify you if it turns out you could qualify for better benefits on your spouse's record or if other family members qualify to receive benefits on your work record.

When to Apply?

While full retirement age is currently 66 (for those born between 1943 and 1954), you can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger your monthly check. See ssa.gov/retire/estimator.html to estimate your benefits.
The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your payments to start. Therefore, if you want your benefits to begin as soon as you turn 62, then you should apply three months before your 62nd birthday.
It's also worth noting that if you start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits before age 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you'll receive your Medicare card approximately three months before your 65th birthday. It will include instructions to return it if you have work coverage that qualifies you for late enrollment.
However, if you decide to delay your retirement benefits, you'll need to sign up for Medicare at age 65, which you can also do at SocialSecurity.gov, over the phone at 800-772-1213 or through your local Social Security office. If you do not sign up, your Medicare coverage may be delayed or cost more in some circumstances.

Needed Information

In order to apply for Social Security benefits, you'll need to be able to document some information about your identity and work history. So, before applying, have the following information handy:
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your birth certificate (original or certified).
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States).
  • A copy of your U.S. military service papers if you served in the military before 1968.
  • A copy of the W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns that you filed last year.
  • Your bank information for the bank account where you would like your benefits to be directly deposited (including your account number and the bank routing number).
For a complete checklist of information you'll need to complete your application, see ssa.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published September 30, 2016

Meal Service Delivery Options for People Who Don't Cook

 

What types of healthy meal delivery options can you recommend for individuals who don't cook and don't get out much? Since my mom passed away, my dad's diet is terrible and I worry about his health.
There are various healthy meal service delivery options available to people who don't cook and live at home. The options available will depend on location and budget. Here are several to consider.

Senior Meal Programs

For seniors, a good place to start is to determine if there's a senior home delivery meal program in his area. Meals on Wheels is the largest program that most people are familiar with, but many communities offer senior meal delivery programs sponsored by other organizations that go by different names.
To find services available in your dad's area, visit MealsOnWheelsAmerica.org, which offers a comprehensive directory on their website or call the local area aging agency. Contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to get the number.
Most home delivered meal programs across the U.S. deliver hot meals daily or several times a week, usually around the lunch hour, to seniors over age 60 who have problems preparing meals for themselves, as well as those with disabilities. Weekend meals, usually frozen, may also be available, along with special diets (diabetic, low-sodium, kosher, etc.). Most of these programs typically charge a small fee (usually between $2 and $6) or request a donation, while some may be free to low-income seniors.

Online Meal Delivery

Another option, that's a bit more expensive, is to purchase meals online and have them delivered. There are a number of companies that offer this type of service like Magic Kitchen (magickitchen.com), Home Bistro (homebistro.com), Personal Chef To Go (personalcheftogo.com), Good Measure Meals (goodmeasuremeals.com) and many others.
These companies offer a wide variety of tasty meal choices and will usually post the nutrition information for their meals on their websites. Most companies will also cater to a host of dietary and medical needs, such as low-sodium and low-carb meals, diabetic meals, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options.
Often the food arrives frozen, but a few companies ship food fresh. Prices generally start at around $10 to $13 per meal. Fortunately, many companies provide discounts or free shipping when you order meals in bulk.

Grocery Stores and Restaurants

Depending on where someone lives, a local grocery store or restaurant may be able to provide home delivered meals. Some grocery stores offer a selection of pre-cooked meals and foods, including roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh soups and salads. Contact local grocery stores to inquire about this option. Or check with some local restaurants to see if they offer home delivery.

Personal Chefs

Another option for individuals with a bigger budget is to hire a personal chef from time to time. A personal chef can provide a comprehensive service that includes help planning meals, grocery shopping and food preparation for several weeks at a time. This will provide meals, which can be frozen and later thawed and eaten as needed. They can also prepare it in their own kitchen and deliver it. Chef's fees range between $200 and $300 plus groceries. To save money, consider sharing meals with another family member, a friend or a neighbor. To find a personal chef in your area, check the listings at the American Personal & Private Chef Association (personalchef.com) or the United States Personal Chef Association (hireachef.com).
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published September 23, 2016
 
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WCCF is Offering Scholarships to Non-Traditional Students

The Washington County Community Foundation is now offering scholarships to non-traditional students through its Education Matters initiative. 

Education Matters is a regional undertaking organized by the community foundations that serve Washington, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties to try to increase the number of working adults in our region who started but never completed some form of post-secondary education – education that extends beyond high school.

You might be surprised to learn that in Southeast Indiana, only 25% of our workforce has an associate’s, bachelors or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four of our community’s adult workers has earned some college credits! That’s over 3,100 people in Washington County!  For whatever reason, they started but never completed their post-secondary education. This represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in our community.

The community foundations that created Education Matters have elected to concentrate on a small sliver of the overall issue, those one in four of our adult workers who have some post-secondary credits but did not complete their degrees or certifications. This population of people who started but didn’t finish their education is where the Washington County Community Foundation sees opportunity to implement immediate changes that can drive our educational attainment numbers up, ultimately having real impact on our community.

The following criteria have been established for this round of scholarships:

  1. Annual awards will not exceed $3,000 the first twelve months and $5,000 per person in any subsequent twelve month period.

  2. Scholarship applicants must be a minimum of 28 years old as of the date of application.

  3. Only individuals who can demonstrate continuing legal residence in Washington County for at least the past five years are eligible. Documentation such as tax forms, housing receipts, or utility bills will be used to verify residency and/or household income.

  4. Scholarship awards may be used for tuition, course-related fees, or books only. Checks will only be written to an educational institution or certified training provider.

  5. The application deadline is 3:30 on October 21, 2016. No exceptions.

  6. Adult scholarship awards may not be used to pay for college debt.

  7. Subsequent awards will only be considered for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA.

Call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334 or email program.officer@wccf.biz to request an application or for more information.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.

Health Tips and Advice for Travelers

 

My husband and I are recently retired and would like to do some traveling both in the United States and abroad, but worry about health issues, such as insurance, finding a good hospital if we get sick, etc. What tips can you offer health conscious individuals who want to travel?
A dream vacation can turn into a real nightmare if you get sick or injured while you're away and aren't prepared. Before setting out, here are some simple steps to help ensure a safe and healthy trip.
Talk to your doctor: If you have a medical condition or health concerns, a good first step is to talk with your doctor about what precautions you need to take before traveling. You should also have your doctor's contact information with you when you travel, as well as a list of your medical conditions and the medications you're taking in case you need emergency medical care while you're away.
If you're traveling outside the U.S., you need to find out the health conditions of the country you're visiting and what, if any, vaccinations and/or preventative medications are recommended. See CDC.gov/travel or call 800-232-463 to get this information.
Check your insurance: If you have health insurance or a Medicare Advantage plan through an HMO or PPO that covers in-network doctors only, check your plan to find out what's covered if you need medical care when traveling outside your geographic area.
Beneficiaries that have original Medicare are covered everywhere in the U.S. But if you're traveling abroad, you need to know that original Medicare does not cover medical expenses beyond the border except in rare circumstances, although some Medicare Advantage plans and some Medigap supplemental policies do. Many private health plans don't pay health care costs outside the U.S. either, so be sure to check.
If you need coverage when traveling abroad, get a comprehensive travel medical insurance policy that covers medical care, medical evacuation and trip cancellation coverage. See InsureMyTrip.com and SquareMouth.com to shop and compare policies.
Locate health care: Before your trip, find out what health and urgent care facilities are near the areas you're visiting. Your hotel can help you with this, or see UrgentCareLocations.com or USHospitalFinder.com for U.S. facilities.
If you're traveling abroad, the U.S. consulate or embassy in the countries you're visiting (go to step.state.gov to enroll your trip) is a good place to get a referral. Or join the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT.org), which provides its members access to a worldwide network of physicians who speak English and have agreed to affordable prearranged fees. Membership is free.
Pack your meds: Make sure you have a sufficient supply of medications to last the entire trip.
If traveling by air, you need to pack your medicine in your carry-on bag, so if your checked luggage gets lost or misdirected you won't be without them. It's best to keep your medications in their original containers to get through airport security without delays. It's also a good idea to bring along a note from your doctor that explains why you take these medications, especially if syringes or other medical supplies are involved.
For airport security requirements visit TSA.gov - click on "Disabilities and Medical Conditions." You can also call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
Seek mobility aids: If mobility is an issue and you're flying to your destination, call your airline before you leave and ask them to supply you a wheelchair to use while you're in the airport. When booking hotel reservations, ask for an accessible room that accommodates wheelchairs and walkers.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Youth Foundation offers grant cycle

The Washington County Youth Foundation has been steadily working to be ready for the start of this year’s fall grant cycle. They will be conducting a meeting at the Washington County Community Learning Center on October 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm to distribute grant applications. One adult and one youth representative from any organization wishing to apply for a grant should be present at this meeting. The Youth Foundation offers grants for youth directed community service projects. 

Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation, commented, “The Youth Foundation has been offering a grant cycle since 2002. They have funded many youth-directed community service projects.  It is so exciting to see youth and adults working together for the betterment of Washington County.”

At the October 5th meeting, representatives from the Washington County Youth Foundation will discuss the application process for the grant cycle.  Any organization wishing to apply for a grant should be represented by at least one adult and one youth.  However, this is not a mandatory meeting. 

Applications will be due by October 27, 2016, 3:00pm in the Foundation Office and the grant awards will be announced after November 17th. For more information, you can call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.

Cheap Cell Phone Plans for Infrequent Callers

 

What are the cheapest cell phone options available to people today who only want one for emergency purposes or occasional calls? I have a cell phone now that costs me $30 per month, but I hate paying for something I hardly ever use.
For people who don't use their cell phones very often but still want one for emergencies or occasional use, there are a many super-cheap plans available. Depending on your income level you may qualify for a free cell phone. Here's where to find some of the best deals.

Super-Cheap Plans

For people who are light/infrequent cell phone users, "prepaid" or "pay as you go" plans are the way to go if you want to save money. With these services, you buy a certain amount of minutes (for talk or text) that must be used within a specified period of time.
While many cell phone providers still offer these lower cost plans, the very best/cheapest deal available today is through T-Mobile's pay as you go plan (T-Mobile.com, 800-501-0952).
For just $3 per month, this plan provides any combination of 30 minutes of talk or 30 text messages. If you want more, you can pay an additional 10 cents per minute/message when you sign up, or you can make adjustments later. You also don't have to worry about overage charges with this plan, because once you reach your talk/text limit for the month, the phone stops working. And, if you have a compatible device, you won't need to purchase a new cell phone.
If you're looking for a little more talk time or more text messages, another low-cost option is Pure Talk USA (PureTalkUSA.com, 877-820-7873). It also offers a Senior AddVantage 80 Plan. This plan provides any combination of 80 minutes of talk or 240 text messages for only $5 per month. Pure Talk also accepts unlocked phones and they don't have overage fees.

Senior-Friendly Cell Phone

If you are looking for a senior-friendly phone with a large keypad, simplified features and an "SOS" emergency alert button, the Doro PhoneEasy 626 sold through Consumer Cellular (ConsumerCellular.com, 888-532-5366) is the best, low-cost option. It runs $50 for the phone, with calling plans that start at $10 per month.

Free Cell Phones

If your income is low enough, you may qualify for a free cell phone through the Lifeline Assistance Program. This is a government-sponsored program that subsidizes wireless (and landline) companies who in turn provide free cell phones and usually between 250 and 1,000 minutes of free monthly talk time and texts to low-income Americans. (Some programs in some states charge a small monthly fee.)
The free phones and minutes are provided by a number of big prepaid wireless companies like Safelink, Assurance Wireless and Budget Mobile, along with a host of other regional carriers throughout the country.
Most states have several wireless companies that provide the free phones and minutes. If you are eligible, the free cell phone you'll receive is a basic phone that also offers text messaging, voicemail, call waiting and caller ID.
To qualify, you'll need to show that you're receiving certain types of government benefits, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, home energy assistance or public housing assistance, or that your household income is at or below 135 or 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines - it varies by state. To find out if you're eligible or to locate the wireless companies that provide Lifeline government cell phones in your state, visit LifelineSupport.org.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published September 9, 2016
 
 
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Donating Old Hearing Aids, Eyeglasses and Mobility Equipment

 

Where are some good places to donate old hearing aids, eyeglasses and mobility equipment? My uncle passed away a few months ago and left behind a bunch of useful aids that could surely help someone else.
Donating old, unused assistive living aids and/or medical equipment is a great way to help those in need who can't afford it, and in most cases it is tax deductible too. Here are some good places to check into.

Hearing Aids

There are several national nonprofit service organizations that offer hearing aid recycling programs. Hearing aids that are donated are usually refurbished and either redistributed to those in need, or resold with the proceeds going to buy new hearing aids for people who can't afford them.
One of the most popular places to donate old hearing aids, as well as hearing aid parts or other assistive listening devices is the Starkey Hearing Foundation "Hear Now" recycling program (starkeyhearingfoundation.org, 800-328-8602), which collects around 60,000 hearing aids a year. Hearing aids and other listening devices should be sent to: Starkey Hearing Foundation, ATTN: Hearing Aid Recycling, 6700 Washington Avenue South, Eden Prairie, MN 55344.
Some other good nonprofits to donate to are the Lions Club Hearing Aid Recycling Program (go to lionsclubs.org and search for: HARP), and Hearing Charities of America (hearingaiddonations.org, 816-333-8300), which is founded by Sertoma, a civic service organization dedicated to hearing health.
Or, if you're interested in donating locally, contact your Hearing Loss Association of America state or local chapter (see hearingloss.org for contact information). They can refer you to state agencies or community service programs that also accept hearing aids.

Eyeglasses

One of the best places to donate old eyeglasses is to the Lions Club Recycle for Sight program. They collect nearly 30 million pairs of glasses each year and distribute them to people in need in developing countries.
To donate, look for a Lion's Club glasses donation drop-off box in your community. You can often find them at libraries, community centers, churches, schools and many local eye doctor offices, or call your local Lions Club for drop-off locations. See directory.lionsclubs.org for contact information.
New Eyes (www.new-eyes.org) is another not-for-profit organization that collects unused eyeglasses and distributes them abroad to people in need.

Medical Equipment

If you have old wheelchairs, walkers, canes, shower chairs or other durable medical equipment, there are many foundations and organizations that would love to receive them. For example, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are popular donation destinations, as are foundations like the ALS Association (alsa.org) and Muscular Dystrophy Association (mda.org), which accept donations at local chapters.
There are also state agencies and local nonprofit organizations that accept medical equipment donations and redistribute them to people in need. To find what's available in your area, contact your state assistive technologies program for a referral. See ataporg.org/programs for contact information.
Or, if you're interested in selling your uncle's old medical equipment, you have options here too, including craigslist.com, recycledmedical.com and usedhme.com, which are all free sites that let you list what you want to sell online.

Tax Deductible

Don't forget that donations to nonprofits are tax-deductible, so when you drop off your donated items, be sure to ask for a receipt for your tax records. Or, if you're mailing it in or are using one of the Lions Club drop-off boxes, you'll need to include a note requesting a letter of acknowledgement of the donation. Your note should include your name and a brief description of what you donated, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published August 26, 2016

Medicare Coverage for Non-Working Spouses

 

Does Medicare cover spouses who have not worked? I have worked all my life, but my spouse worked only for a few years when we first got married but then quit to take care of our children full time. Will she be eligible for Medicare?
There are plenty of couples in your situation when it comes to applying for Medicare. The answer generally is yes, your spouse can qualify for Medicare on your work record. Here's how it works.

Eligibility Rules

Medicare, the government health insurance program for older adults, covers more than 55 million Americans age 65 and older, as well as those younger than age 65 who have a qualifying disability or have end-stage renal disease.
To be eligible, you must have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years to qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A hospital coverage when you turn 65. If you qualify, then your non-working spouse will qualify too, based on your work record, when she turns 65.
Divorced spouses are also eligible if they were married at least 10 years and are single. Surviving spouses who are single and who were married for at least nine months before their spouse died are also eligible.
In addition to Part A, both you and your spouse would also qualify for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor's visits and other outpatient services. However, Medicare Part B requires a monthly premium, not a work history. The premium for most Part B beneficiaries in 2016 is $104.90 per month, while new beneficiaries pay $121.80 per month. Also note that higher earning couples - those with incomes over $170,000 per year - pay even more.
There are also a number of other caveats you should be aware of depending on your wife's age.

Older Spouse

If your wife is older than you, she can qualify for Medicare on your work record at age 65, even if you're not getting Medicare yourself, so long as you are at least 62 years old. You also must have been married for at least one year for your wife to apply for Medicare on your work record.
If you are still working and your wife is covered by your employer's health insurance, she may want to enroll only in the premium-free Medicare Part A until you retire or your employer's coverage ends. Part B - along with its premium - can be added later without penalty as long as your employer's group health plan is your "primary coverage." Check with your employer's human resources department to find out about this.
If your wife is more than three years older than you and has no health coverage, you can buy her Medicare Part A until you turn 62 and the premium-free benefit kicks in. The Part A monthly premium is $411 in 2016.

Younger Spouse

If your wife is younger than you, she will need health insurance until she turns 65 and becomes eligible for Medicare. This may be obtained through your employer, if you are still working, through COBRA (see dol.gov/ebsa/publications/cobraemployee.html), the Health Insurance Marketplace (see healthcare.gov) or outside the marketplace through a private insurance company.

Other Medicare Options

In addition to Medicare Part A and B, when you and your wife become Medicare eligible, each of you will also need to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan if you don't have credible drug coverage from your employer or union. You also may want to purchase a Medicare supplemental (Medigap) policy too, in order to help pay for things that aren't covered by Medicare—like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Alternatively, you may want to consider an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan.
For more information on Medicare choices and enrollment rules visit Medicare.gov or call 800-633-4227. You can also get help through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see shiptacenter.org), which provides free Medicare counseling.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published August 12, 2016

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