What seniors need to know about their new Medicare cards
If you’re wondering what the new cards will look like, the Medicare program provides this example:
Now, there are some basic facts every Medicare beneficiary should know about their new cards. These IDs:
- Are free. So, there is no cost to beneficiaries.
- Will be mailed out beginning in April.
- Will be mailed automatically. So, beneficiaries don’t need to do anything to ensure they are issued a new card.
- Will be mailed to the beneficiary addresses on file with the Social Security Administration. So, beneficiaries who need to update that address should log into their SSA.gov accounts.
- Have no bearing on beneficiaries’ coverage or benefits. So, coverage and benefits will not change in connection with the new IDs.
Once you receive your new card, the Medicare program advises that you take three important steps:
- Destroy your old Medicare card right away.
- Use your new card. Doctors, other health care providers and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care.
- Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare number, personal information or to pay a fee for your new card. Treat your Medicare number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers. Remember, Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.
Tip No. 3 touches on an important point: You still must safeguard your new Medicare number and card. That’s because receiving a new ID number or card is not enough in itself to prevent fraud.
In health care fraud, one such document is known as an explanation of benefits, or EOB. The FBI explains:
“One of the most effective ways to determine if insurance information is being used without your knowledge is to review the explanation of benefits forms sent from your insurance company. These forms list the services and supplies supposedly provided to patients from medical providers. If any billings are suspect, immediately contact the insurance company.”
You may also wish to request a copy of your file from medical consumer reporting companies like MIB and Milliman IntelliScript. They track your medical data — just as credit reporting companies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion track your credit data. We explain this in detail in “Why Freezing Your Credit Won’t Fully Protect You After the Equifax Breach.”
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Savers Credit gives a special tax break to low- and moderate-income taxpayers who are saving for retirement.
Formerly called the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, the Savers Credit gives a special tax break to low- and moderate-income taxpayers who are saving for retirement. This credit is in addition to the other tax benefits for saving in a retirement account. If you qualify, a Savers Credit can reduce or even eliminate your tax bill.
Unfortunately, many eligible taxpayers don’t take advantage of this break because they don’t know about it. Indeed, a recent survey* shows that only 12% of American workers with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 are aware of the Savers Credit.
How much could the Savers Credit cut from my tax bill?
Depending on your adjusted gross income and tax filing status, you can claim the credit for 50%, 20% or 10% of the first $2,000 you contribute during the year to a retirement account. Therefore, the maximum credit amounts that can be claimed are $1,000, $400 or $200.
The biggest credit amount a married couple filing jointly can claim together is $2,000. But if you and/or your spouse took a taxable distribution from your retirement account during the two years prior to the due date for filing your return (including extensions), that distribution reduces the size of the Savers Credit available to you.
The Savers Credit is a ‘non-refundable’ credit. That means this credit can reduce the tax you owe to zero, but it can’t provide you with a tax refund.
Which retirement accounts qualify for the credit?
The Savers Credit can be claimed for your contributions to a 401k, 403(b), 457 plan, a Simple IRA or a SEP IRA. (You can’t claim your employer’s contributions to these accounts, however.) Your contributions to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA are also eligible for the Savers Credit.