Social Security Error and Medicare Premiums
By the GWAAR Legal Services Team
The Department of Health & Human Services (DHS) announced that a “processing error” occurred in January that resulted in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plan premiums not being deducted from beneficiaries’ checks. This meant that nearly 250,000 seniors nationwide learned that their drug coverage premiums had not been paid – even if they had chosen to have the premiums withheld from their Social Security checks. Many people are discovering that they now owe up to five months of premiums and must find the money to pay their drug plans. Some are receiving cancellation notices from the plans for failure to pay premiums.
Even though monthly Social Security checks for those affected were higher because the premiums were not being deducted, many people did not notice. Usually, Social Security payments increase each year according to the cost of living adjustment (COLA), so it is not unusual for a beneficiary to start receiving a higher payment at the beginning of the year.
Medicare announced that plans must allow members a grace period to repay the premium payments that were missed. This period must last at least as long as the delay in billing. Plans must also offer a payment plan for those who can’t pay several months of premiums at once.
For anyone with questions about payment of premiums, disenrollment from a drug plan, or other issues related to this error, please contact your Medicare Part D or Advantage Plan directly, or make an appointment to meet with your Elder Benefits Specialist.