For those of you contemplating retirement (and who isn't?), here are a few helpful pointers that I have learned through trial and error - some of them today.
1. The social security office will process your social security application. They will also set you up for Medicare Parts A (hospital) and B (medical). The on-line application is so simple that I was able to do my own, unassisted. However, if you live in a smaller community (like West Plains) it is possible to get human assistance with a short wait time. (If you are in Phoenix, forget about personal service.)
2. The social security office (at least the one here) will not assist in enrolling you in Medicare Part D (prescription drugs). My local office referred me to the senior center or to my prescription provider. (Remember when we were all accusing the Shrub Bush administration of using the drug companies to draft the Part D legislation. Obviously it is a manufacturer/retailer-driven operation, or just another privatized government service.)
(Check out the local senior center quickly upon retirement. I found the address for the one in West Plains on the Internet this morning. I drove over there just hoping to get information on Medicare Part D and to learn more about their Wednesday "pinochle night." As soon as I located the building and stepped into the office - and introduced myself as "being new in town and newly retired," a very kind lady asked, "Do you have Medicare Part D?" After my reply in the negative, she whipped out a form and said, "Well then, let's get you enrolled." Nothing could have been simpler!)
3. Take a list of your medications when you go to enroll in Part D. (I had to run home and get mine.)
4. The senior center will not have information on Medicare supplements. They will refer you to an insurance agent. All of the insurance companies are supposed to offer the same assortment of supplement plans at the same prices. After a nice hot lunch at the senior center ($3.50), I headed over to see the insurer who has the policy on my house.
5. I have an existing insurance policy from my last job. My question to the insurer was should I keep that as the Medicare backup or use her product. I had no information about my existing policy other than the enrollment card. The sweet lady at the agency went way above-and-beyond in answering my questions. She called my health insurance company, explained what I wanted to know, and found out my current policy at the current rate would serve as the supplement if I made a couple of administrative changes - which I was able to do over the phone. The price for keeping that policy was one dollar and a few pennies a month over what a new supplement policy would cost. Long and short, the lady spent over half-an-hour working for me and didn't even get to make a sale. They will definitely get my auto business when that policy comes due!
(Marge Slayton of West Plains, your State Farm Insurance Office rocks!)
6. All of this should be followed by an evening of pinochle at the local senior center!