Q: While paying into Social Security, I have had several name changes. How can I determine whether my earning records are accurate? A: I asked the Social Security to explain the process it follows when it receives an earnings report that does not match the name and Social Security number in the files. The agency looks for the correct record to which to credit the earnings. It checks for common errors such as use of nicknames, misspellings and transposition of letters and numbers. If these methods fail, it tries to contact the worker or employer to resolve the discrepancy. If earnings remain unassignable they are placed in a “suspense” file, and investigation continues. You can help ensure accurate records. When a name change occurs, advise the agency so it can update the records. If you change jobs, use the same name with each employer. Avoid using nicknames on your payroll records and review your W-2 form to make sure your employer has your correct name and Social Security number. Review your personal earnings statement each year. If you find an error contact the agency so the discrepancy can be investigated. Q: I retired before age 65 and have health care benefits from my employer. Will this be considered a Medicare supplement when I go on Medicare? A: Because you are not yet 65, your employer-provided health care is your primary coverage. When you turn 65 and go on Medicare, those benefits become your secondary coverage and may change. They may or may not provide the same benefits as a Medicare Medigap policy. Employer retirement plans differ from the state-regulated Medicare Medigap plans. They do not necessarily provide the same services because coverage depends on the contract between the employer and the insurer. Coverage will also vary depending on whether the plan is fee-for-service, HMO or preferred-provider organization. To determine the adequacy of the coverage, ask: What will the plan pay after Medicare has paid? Does the plan pay for services Medicare excludes? Will it cover you if you move? Is the plan guaranteed renewable? Are there limits on benefits? Do you have a choice of plans? What is the ongoing cost to you? For all unresolved questions call your employer’s human resources department. Happenings Thursday: “Medicare Overview and Extra Help Programs” seminar. 1-3 p.m.; Camarillo Health Care District, 3639 E. Las Posas Road, Suite 117, Camarillo. For information call 358-1952. June 26: Panda Kroll will present “Traps in Hiring and Firing.” 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Ventura County Law Library, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura. For information call 642-8982. July 10: “Healthier Living Class,” a six-week program. 9-11:30 a.m.; SCAN Senior Resource Center, 6633 Telephone Road, Suite 100, Ventura. For information and registration, call 658-0365. DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT PROCESSING CHANGES The way you receive durable medical equipment through Medicare is changing if you are on original Medicare — not a PPO or HMO — and currently using durable medical equipment. The following presentations will explain how to order supplies. June 27: 10 a.m., Marriott Courtyard Esplanade, Oxnard. June 27: 2 p.m., Ventura County Medical Center Academic Conference Room, Ventura. June 28: 10:15 a.m., Simi Valley Senior Center, Simi Valley. June 28: 1 p.m., Goebel Senior Adult Center, Thousand Oaks. For reservations or more information, call 800-434-0222. Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, or call 495-6250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Please include your telephone number More …
Ensure your Social Security records are accurate
About the Author: Betty Berry
Betty Berry brings a deep understanding of senior issues to her position as Senior Advocate for Senior Concerns. She has advocated for seniors since 1993. Through the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program, known as HICAP, she is registered with the State of California as an Insurance Counselor, a Long-Term Care Insurance Counselor and a Community Educator. She has served on the Area Agency on Aging’s Advisory Council as a member and Chair, has been a member of the Financial Abuse Strategic Team (FAST) and currently serves on the Conejo Senior Volunteer Program (CSVP) Advisory Board and authors the Senior Advocate column that appears in the Ventura County Star. Betty completed her undergraduate degree at California Lutheran University and earned her Juris Doctorate degree at Ventura College of Law.