Q: My friends range in age from their early 50s to their mid-70s. When we talk about retirement, we have many conflicting beliefs. Is there somewhere we could go as a group to hear the facts about Social Security and Medicare?

A: Probably the best way to start learning about these programs is to attend an unbiased presentation.

“Is Retirement in Your Near Future?” is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 588 Camino Manzanas (at Lynn Road) in Thousand Oaks.

The presentation will cover Social Security and Medicare in the retiree’s world. Subjects will include early retirement and working beyond full retirement age.

Survivor benefits and collecting on a former spouse’s benefits also will be addressed.

The senior advocate will facilitate the seminar, and questions are welcome from visitors.

Reservations are strongly recommended. Call the church at 498-4502 for questions or reservations.

Q:What does it mean when a doctor takes Medicare “assignment,” and what, if any, are the advantages?

A: Accepting assignment is a commitment on the part of a doctor or provider to accept the amount Medicare approves for a particular bill as payment in full.

Patients selecting providers who accept assignment benefit in two ways: lower costs and direct provider payment.

If your provider accepts assignment, Part B claim payments are made directly to your doctor or supplier for 80 percent of the approved amount. You are responsible for the rest.

If your provider does not accept assignment, Medicare will send its payment for 80 percent of the approved amount to you, the beneficiary. You are then responsible for paying the provider.

The nonassignment provider may not be satisfied with the amount Medicare approved and can collect a maximum 15 percent in excess of the Medicare-approved amount. You are responsible for this 15 percent, as well as the 20 percent co-payment.

Medicare will send you a Medicare Summary Notice showing whether the claim was assigned or nonassigned, how much was approved and paid by Medicare and how much you still owe.

Physicians and suppliers who accept Medicare assignment are referred to as participating providers.

If you don’t know whether your doctor or supplier accepts assignment or if you are selecting a new provider, you should ask.


Oct. 18: Medicare 2013 plan changes seminar, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Oxnard Senior Center, 200 E. Bard Road in Oxnard. Call 385-8042.

Oct. 19: Medicare 2013 plan changes seminar, 10 a.m. to noon, Ventura County County Area Agency on Aging Offices, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura. Call 477-7310.

Oct. 22: Home modification seminar, 1:30-3 p.m., Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley. Call 583-6363 to RSVP.

Oct. 11, 1952: Betty Berry was married. Congratulations on 60 years of marriage. Happy anniversary from your loyal readers.

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 betty@seniorconcerns.org. Please include your telephone number.


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