Medicare Cards Receive New Look to Protect Your Identity

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the next step in its fraud prevention initiative that will remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. This will help combat identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars. With this, nearly 58 million American beneficiaries will begin receiving new Medicare cards this year – of that, two million beneficiaries are Floridians.

According to CMS, the new cards will use a unique, randomly assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card. CMS began mailing new cards in April 2018, and has an anticipated completion date of April 2019. Florida cardholders should expect to begin receiving their cards in June 2018.

As a cardholder/beneficiary, what does this mean for you?

  1. Your benefits will not change.

  2. Your new card will automatically come to you in the mail -- you don't need to do anything as long as your address is up to date. If you need to update your address, visit your My Social Security account online, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

  3. Mailing all of the cards will take time, so you might get your card at a different time than your spouse, friend, or neighbor.

  4. Once you receive your new card in the mail, you can begin using it immediately.

  5. No signature line will be located on the new card – you won’t need to sign anything to begin using your card and receiving benefits.

  6. There will no longer be a gender-identifier on the card.

  7. When you receive your new card, please safely and securely destroy your current Medicare card(s) and keep your new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier confidential.

  8. Your new Medicare Number will be a unique combination of numbers and letters (The letters S, L, O, I, B, and Z are never used).

  9. Beware of scammers contacting you about your new card – Social Security and CMS will not be making calls to confirm any of your personal information.

  10. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020 - only new cards will be accepted.

Please remember, if someone asks you for your personal information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

If you would like more information on the CMS new Medicare card initiative, please go online to Medicare.gov/Newcard/.

If you have questions regarding your Social Security Disability/SSI claim, or would like more information on Social Security Disability, please contact us at 813.495.8787, or visit us online at Montefuconsulting.com.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

Are you wondering if you or someone you know may be eligible to receive any of the benefits offered by Social Security?  SSA provides an on-line guide to assist you, click on this link.  We're here to assist with any questions you may have.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

SSI provides monthly payments for such basic needs as food, clothing, and shelter for people with low income who are 65 or older, or are blind or disabled.  (To get SSI you must have little or no income or assets.)  If you are eligible for SSI benefits, you should apply for them.

Your child younger than age 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.  Note:  The basic amount of the SSI payment is the same nationwide, but some states add money to the basic SSI benefit. 

Call Montefu Consulting, we can tell you more about your state’s total SSI payment. 

Can my Social Security benefits be garnished if I owe back child support?

Current regulations allow Social Security to garnish benefits for payment of back child support if the individual receives the following types of benefits: Social Security Disability (under Title II), Social Security Retirement (under Title II), Civil Service Retirement System, Federal Employees Retirement System, Service-connected VA disability if received in lieu of retirement or retainer pay, benefits paid or payable under the Railroad Retirement System.   However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is exempt from garnishment for various reasons. 

First, SSI is a means-tested benefit and is not based upon the earnings history of an individual; therefore, it is not viewed as a ‘wage’ or ‘wage-replacement’ benefit. Further, in order to be qualified for SSI, an individual must have little or no income and very few resources and must have been deemed to be disabled, blind, or found to be over the age of 65. 

Finally, this exemption from garnishment includes SSI benefits that are paid directly to an individual or paid to a representative payee on behalf of an individual. Agencies who typically oversee garnishment of these types of benefits (such as individual states or tribes) are to take care that individuals whose benefits are garnished do not suffer from an inability to meet their basic needs for livelihood while ensuring that proper garnishment does occur for the welfare of the affected child(ren).

Feel free to contact us with questions!

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability?

The current economic climate in the US has resulted in a dramatic change in the employment landscape. As a result, the number of people considering filing for Social Security Disability has steadily increased over the last several years. Your clients may be asking “Does my current medical condition meet the criteria for disability?” or “Would Social Security Disability be something I should pursue?”  There are several issues you should be aware of when trying to determine if now is the right time to file for Social Security Disability.

 

In order to be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits, an individual must have enough ‘quarters of coverage’ that have been paid into Social Security over time. More specifically, the general rule of thumb for most adults is that an individual must have worked enough in 5 of the last 10 years prior to the onset of disability to be ‘insured’ or eligible to file for disability benefits. This eligibility is based on the individual’s own personal earnings record in most cases. Of course, there are always exceptions.   Once it has been determined that an individual has enough earnings reported to be insured for benefits, Social Security then begins a sequential-step process when analyzing a new application for disability benefits. This process includes the following questions:     

  • DOES THE INDIVIDUAL HAVE A MEDICALLY DETERMINABLE IMPAIRMENT THAT IS EXPECTED TO END IN DEATH OR THAT IS EXPECTED TO KEEP HIM/HER FROM WORKING  FOR AT LEAST 12 MONTHS
  • IS THIS MEDICALLY DETERMINABLE IMPAIRMENT SEVERE AS DEFINED BY SOCIAL SECURITY?
  • IF AN INDIVIDUAL HAS A SEVERE IMPAIRMENT ACCORDING TO SOCIAL SECURITY’S DEFINITION, DOES THAT IMPAIRMENT MEET ONE OF THE LISTED IMPAIRMENTS AS OUTLINED IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY REGULATIONS?
  • CAN THE INDIVIDUAL PERFORM ANY OF HIS/HER PAST RELEVANT WORK?
  • CAN THE INDIVIDUAL PERFORM ANY OTHER WORK THAT EXISTS IN THE ECONOMY TODAY?

These questions encompass a host of issues such as physical vs psychological impairments, continuing to earn wages vs working as a self-employed individual while pursuing benefits, documentation by a physician of a medical diagnosis, work skills that may transfer to other occupations, and the ability to sustain work activity as defined by Social Security.   For example, you may be a small business owner who suffered injuries in an accident which now prevent you from perform the work activities necessary to maintain your business; therefore, you have had to hire outside help. How is your eligibility for benefits impacted by this need to hire from the outside? Or, you may have been a corporate executive for many years before being diagnosed with a debilitating disease such as multiple sclerosis which has resulted in significant cognitive as well as physical impairments. How does Social Security evaluate your ability to return to substantial gainful employment?

There are many issues to consider when contemplating an application for Social Security Disability.  For a free consultation, submit a request on our Contact Us page or call us directly at 813-495-8787.  We’re here to help!