A Tale of Two Medicare Cards

By Nancy Blunck

I have two Medicare cards.

This is the story of how the two cards came into being and how one was used in the beginning (but is no longer used at all). The second Medicare card is the one I use now. There will be a third Medicare card in my future, when I begin Social Security based on my own Social Security record.

My first Medicare card came into being the month I turned 65. It has my Social Security number on it, followed by the letter T. The letter T means I was eligible for Medicare Part A benefits but was not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits (as I needed to be age 66 for full Social Security).

For my first full year of Medicare, I used the card with the letter T on it. I handed it over at each doctor or medical provider office. I no longer use this card at all, and this is the important part. My Medicare reimbursement would be messed up if I used it now. (Read the article Maximizing Strategy can lead to Medicare Mess to understand how this could happen.)

When I turned age 66, a second Medicare card came into my life. It has my spouse’s Social Security number on it, followed by the letter B. The letter B means the card is based on my spouse’s Social Security record, not my own. This is the only card I use now. One day in the future, I will get yet a third Medicare card.

When I became eligible to start Social Security at age 66, I filed for “spousal benefits” based on my husband’s Social Security record. This decision allows my own Social Security benefit to grow at 8% a year until I start taking it, which I plan to do at age 70. The start of “spousal benefits” is what triggered the issuance of my second Medicare card.

When I start receiving Social Security based on my own record, it will trigger the issuance of my third Medicare card. At that point in the future, I will only use that Medicare card. I will stop using the second

d Medicare card I have now.

One item some Medicare recipients find confusing is their Medicare number, also called their Medicare Claim number. This is the number every Medicare recipient should provide in all communication with the Social Security Administration about his or her Medicare account. This is also the number medical providers will need in order to provide Medicare-covered services to a Medicare recipient.

The first nine digits of your Medicare Claim number should match the nine digits of your Social Security number. In some cases, however, those digits may match the nine digits of your spouse’s, parent’s, or child’s Social Security number instead.

Note that if the letter A, B, C, or D follows the numerical part of your Medicare number, this has nothing to do with enrollment in Medicare Part A, B, C, or D.

The front of your Medicare card indicates whether you are enrolled in Part A and/or Part B under the heading “IS ENTITLED TO.” If you are enrolled in the Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, that information appears on a separate card and not on your Medicare card.

Visit Social Security Number Codes for an abbreviated list of common Benefit Claim Number Codes. For more up-to-date information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or www.medicare.gov.

*On 1/13/17, this article was reposted by Forbes.com – Click here…

Nancy Blunck, CFP®, is a Sr. Financial Planner in the Anchorage office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm. Email her at: nancyblunck@theplanningcenter.com.

Nancy Blunck The Planning Center