Turning 65 is a big milestone. It marks the age when you’re eligible for Medicare, and it can be a time when you start thinking more about your retirement and your health-care needs. Here’s a guide to the most important steps to take in the year you turn 65.
Apply for Medicare
You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, but your enrollment window begins three months before your birthday and ends three months after your birthday. There are penalties for late enrollment. You can enroll online or by phone, and you’ll need to provide some basic information about your eligibility and health history.
Medicare provides coverage for hospital stays, doctor visits, and other health-care needs. But you may need to supplement your coverage with additional plans. For example, Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, while Part B covers doctor visits. You may also want to consider Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans, which provide additional coverage for things like vision and dental care. You should also enroll in Medicare Part D, a private plan that covers prescription drugs.
Review Retirement Accounts
Another important step to take when you turn 65 is to look at your retirement savings. Be realistic about whether you have enough saved to support yourself. You can start by assessing your current financial situation and taking a closer look at your retirement accounts. Consider working with a financial advisor to help you create a retirement plan that meets your needs.
Do the Math on Social Security
The earliest age at which one can start receiving Social Security benefits is 62, while the latest age is 70. Taking Social Security benefits early at 62 can result in a permanent reduction in monthly payments, potentially leaving an individual with less income throughout retirement.
On the other hand, delaying Social Security benefits until 70 can result in higher monthly payments and potentially more financial security in retirement. Ultimately, the decision of when to take Social Security benefits is up to your unique financial situation and retirement goals.
Update Your Estate Plans
A lot may have changed since your first signed off on your estate plans and end-of-life directives. You may need to update beneficiaries, executors, trustees, and instructions for the final disposition of your remains after death.
While it’s not fun to think about your mortality, planning for it is necessary to ensure your survivors respect your wishes. You can find affordable cremation services online in advance or pre-pay for the services of a funeral home. This locks in current rates and protects your family against price increases.
Go for the Senior Discounts
Many discounts become available to you as a senior. Many companies offer senior discounts on things like travel, dining, and entertainment. There may be a property tax break available in your location, too. Check with your local assessor’s office to learn how to apply.
Taking the steps necessary when you’re about to turn 65 can give both you and your family peace of mind. Remember, the decisions you make now will have a big impact on your future, so it’s important to inform yourself, ask for help if you need it, and choose carefully.