Aging Energized Articles

Read about topics to help you age well, enjoy your retirement years, and navigate the intricacies of Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare Advantage Plan OR Medigap Plan?

This is probably the most asked question when investigating Medicare for yourself or a loved one:

Should I choose original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and then also choose a Medigap plan plus a Part D Prescription Drug plan?


Should I instead choose a Medicare Advantage plan? In this case, we are assuming an Advantage plan that has prescription drug coverage included and may also have other services such as dental, vision, or hearing also bundled.

The best way to increase your knowledge to better equip yourself to make this very important life decision is to take the full Medicare Basics course from Aging Energized. The 8 lessons in this course provide the information you need to make an informed decision that best meets the needs of you and your family.

You will learn this decision is a very personal one. There are potential lifetime benefits or consequences. 

This is not just a simple financial decision. There are other factors that weigh heavily into the decision. Take...

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Start Off the New Year Right

medicare Jan 03, 2020

Get a healthy start to the new year by seeing your doctor for your Medicare yearly wellness visit. It's covered if you've had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months.

Use this visit to develop or update your personalized prevention plan, to help you stay healthy all year long. Medicare covers this wellness visit once every 12 months.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to work with your doctor to join all of us at Aging Energized to make the coming year our best year of health ever.

Your Medicare Account

Looking for another way to stay on top of your health? If you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), sign in to your official Medicare account to see a personalized calendar of current and upcoming preventive services. If you don't already have an account, it's free – and easy – to sign up.

If you're in a Medicare Advantage Plan, contact your plan for a list of covered preventive services. Advantage Plans must cover all the same...

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Social Security Increase in 2020

If you're collecting Social Security, congratulations! You just got a raise. Your benefits are increasing by 1.6% starting in January 2020. For a recipient earning the average monthly benefit of $1,479, this means your check will increase to about $1,503 per month. This is an increase of $24 per month.

The Social Security Administration makes cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to counteract the effects of inflation.  However, many senior citizens are concerned that actual costs are rising faster than COLA increases, making it difficult to keep up.

For most Social Security recipients, Medicare Part B premiums are automatically withheld from Social Security checks. And those premiums are also going up in 2020. They are increasing from $135.50 in 2019 to $144.60 in 2020, an increase of $9.10. This means your $24 Social Security raise is actually $14.90 more on your monthly Social Security check.

According to this article, "small COLAs coupled with rising healthcare and other costs...

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Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

It’s very important to sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period. This is a specified period of time based on the date you turn 65. If you don’t sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and Part B during your initial enrollment period, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty which may include a higher premium.

What is the Initial Enrollment Period?

Your initial enrollment period is a 7-month period that includes:

  • The three months before the month you turn 65.
  • The month you turn 65.
  • The three months after the month you turn 65.

For example, if you turn 65 on February 15, 2020, your enrollment period is from November 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.

When Does Coverage Start?

If you sign up during the first three months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage starts on the first day of your birthday month. However, if your birthday is on the first day of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the previous month.

If you sign up the month...

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The Parts of Medicare

As you approach the magic age of 65, you are probably starting to think about becoming eligible for Medicare. And you most likely have lots of questions. Is it free? Or does it cost me money? What does it cover?

Probably the best place to start is in understanding Medicare’s “parts.”  Medicare has conveniently segmented the various coverage options into four different parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D, and Medigap. Let’s take a quick look at each part.

Medicare Part A, Hospital Insurance

Medicare Part A is your hospital insurance. Think of it as your room and board during hospital stays, including meals. It covers the cost of a semi-private room, home health care, and the cost of skilled nursing facility stays. It also covers blood transfusions requiring more than three pints of blood.

Medicare Part A is free for most people, as long as they have worked at least 10 years in the U.S.

Medicare Part B, Medical Insurance or Outpatient Insurance


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Trimming Your Tax Bill in Retirement

Here are a few tips for trimming your tax bill in retirement . . . whether your retirement is decades away, just around the corner, or you’re already living the dream.

Many people don’t know that a portion of your Social Security benefits will likely be taxed. And money you take out of your traditional IRA and 401(k) will definitely be taxed. Choices you make now will make it easier for you to lower your taxes when you’re living on your SS benefits and money you’ve invested.

One of the most common ways to avoid taxes in retirement is to invest in a Roth IRA. You don’t get the tax break now because you put money into the account after paying taxes on it. But then the money grows tax-free, and when you withdraw the money it comes out tax-free. That’s different from a traditional IRA or 401(k), which both give you a tax break the year you invest the money.

Another way to reduce your tax bill is to contribute to an HSA. You get to put in money...

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Your SHIP has come in!

Did you know you have a SHIP if you’re over age 65? It’s your Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program. It offers local, personalized counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their caregivers. Each state may call its SHIP by a different name (SHIBA in Oregon or HICAP in California, for example). Visit the SHIP website to find out what SHIP is called in your state and get specific contact info.

This website has other helpful information to assist Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and their caregivers. Their mission is to help you make informed health insurance decisions that optimize access to care and benefits.

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