The CSRS Medicare Trap

HUH? Okay, if you are not a Federal employee this is Greek to you.   At age 65 you are automatically enrolled in Part A of traditional (AKA “Original Medicare). This is for hospital care. There is no charge for this. You already paid for it through payroll deduction. CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) employees have Medicare but NOT Social Security taxes withheld from their income.  At age 65, you can choose to also enroll in Part B OR enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Here is the trap for those of you who are married and retired CSRS employees.

  • You choose Part B, for which you must pay a monthly premium (currently $104.90).
  • You have three options to pay this premium
    • by mail (check or credit card) in quarterly installments
    • by debit from your bank or credit union (called EZ Pay)
    • by deduction from your retirement check from OPM
  • The catch: Whose Medicare account applies to you?

Despite the fact that my spouse (the former CSRS employee) paid into Medicare for more than 30 years (and I, several years less), unnoticed by us, the Social Security Administration (which operates Medicare) assigned her to my SSN (same number used for Medicare, with a suffix added). Result, the deduction from her retirement check is NOT possible. Nor, apparently, can her “claim” be switched to her number. Now, what is the big deal you might ask? She is still covered. We can still have the premium debited from the bank. True, but aside from the principle of the thing (which to us is no small matter–since she paid in for all those years) the setup for deduction from her retirement check is a simple, one-time deal. We never have to worry about bank account balance issues, changing accounts, etc.

So, if this may apply to you, look carefully at that letter you get a few months before 65. Check whose SSN is on the information they send you. Take action then, BEFORE all the paperwork is processed.