Category Archives: Social Security

Medicare and Affordable Care Act

By Jennie L. Phipps ·

If you’re a Medicare recipient and living in retirement, you don’t have to worry too much about the troubled Affordable Care Act, the health care law often referred to as “Obamacare.”

Here are five key points about the law and Medicare from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health care research organization that has been providing reliable information about health insurance reform:

  • People with Medicare can’t sign up for health care plans sold in the Obamacare exchanges or marketplaces. Insurers are prevented from selling marketplace plans to people known to have Medicare.
  • The Affordable Care Act tax penalty that takes effect next year for people who don’t have health insurance does not apply to people covered by Medicare.
  • People on Medicare are not eligible for premium tax credits, the Obamacare subsidies that cut the cost of health insurance. These credits can be used only to purchase insurance plans in the exchanges.
  • Medicare is not sold through the marketplaces. Medicare participants should enroll through, by calling 1-800-Medicare, or by talking to an insurer who sells Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans.
  • Medicare open enrollment does not coincide with the Affordable Care Act enrollment period. Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7 for current enrollees who want to change their plans. Otherwise, you can enroll in Medicare within three months of your 65th birthday. Factor that schedule into your retirement planning.

Obamacare Medicare enhancements

Health reform has resulted in some improvements to Medicare. The Kaiser Family Foundation points out that the law: Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Social Security rising 1.5%

By Jennie L. Phipps ·

Social Security confirmed today that the average cost of living adjustment, or COLA, will be 1.5 percent in 2014 — one of the lowest increases since the program was first adjusted for inflation in 1975.

To put this in perspective: In 1987 and 1999, the COLA was only 1.3 percent. There was no adjustment in either 2010 or 2011. The largest adjustment was in July 1980, when inflation drove up benefits 14.3 percent.

The average Social Security payment for an individual will rise $19 a month from $1,275 to $1,294. The average couple will get $31 more, their benefit rising from $2,080 to $2,111.

In some years, the Social Security increase brought about by the COLA was eaten up by an increase in Medicare Part B, which automatically is subtracted from most people’s Social Security payments. In 2014, Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s office visits, won’t rise from its current level of $104.90. That’s good retirement planning news.

If you are strictly on the paying end of this and not yet ready for retirement, maximum taxable earnings on which Social Security payroll taxes are levied will rise in 2014 to $117,000, up from $113,700 in 2013. To qualify for Social Security, you must work a total of 40 quarters, earning at least $1,200 a quarter in 2014, up from $1,160 in 2013.

If you are between 62 and full retirement age — 66 for people turning 62 in 2014 — and you continue to work while claiming, you will have to pay back a portion of your Social Security payments if you earn more than $15,480 in 2014. That’s up from $15,120 a year in 2013. The year that you reach full retirement age, you can earn as much as $41,400 without penalty, an increase of $1,320 from 2013.

The COLA also affects benefits for federal government retirees, disabled veterans and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor. Click her to read on.

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