If your clients have been waiting on their Medicare Part A or B enrollments and unable to contact the Social Security Administration, you’re not alone. Thankfully, Medicare is aware of the issue and will not be charging your clients late enrollment penalties.
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While we do not have exact answers as to why Medicare applicants are experiencing all these delays or how you can push enrollments through, we want to make sure you’re aware of these problems and Medicare’s solution to them.
Social Security Telephone Issues Affecting Clients
We’ve heard reports from several Medicare agents that their clients have been experiencing problems with Social Security enrolling them in Medicare at their request. Such problems have included getting disconnected from calls to their Social Security office and representatives being unable to locate their application or check its status. Medicare.gov’s website acknowledges that there’s been Social Security telephone problems on their “Ready to sign up for Part A & Part B” page.
Problems have included clients getting disconnected from calls to their Social Security office and representatives being unable to locate their application or check its status.
The Social Security Administration is aware of these issues and has stated that they may occur as a result of modernizing their phone system.
2022 Medicare Part A & B Enrollment Problems
The phone issues with the SSA have been causing several agents’ clients to miss their Medicare enrollment deadlines — even if said clients applied for coverage with plenty of time left.
Usually, when someone misses their Original Medicare enrollment deadline, they are charged late enrollment penalties for Medicare Part A and B. However, in lieu of the problems people are facing with Social Security and Medicare enrollments this year, Medicare is providing affected Medicare eligibles with extra time to sign up for coverage and waiving their late enrollment penalties.
The phone issues with the SSA have been causing several agents’ clients to miss their Medicare enrollment deadlines.
Who Won’t Be Charged a Medicare Late Enrollment Penalty?
Your client will not receive a Medicare Part A or B late enrollment penalty if they meet the following criteria:
- They’re eligible to sign up for Medicare between January 1, 2022, and December 30, 2022, and were unable to because of problems with Social Security’s telephone system.
- They haven’t signed up for Medicare yet.
- They follow the steps below and sign up for Medicare by December 30, 2022.
As long as your client meets all those criteria, the time between when they would’ve enrolled if they could’ve reached Social Security in 2022 and when they were actually able to sign up will NOT count toward a late enrollment penalty.
Our interpretation of the requirements as they stand now is that they would allow for clients whose Initial Enrollment Period ended in January 2022 or who wanted to enroll in Part B during the General Enrollment Period in 2022 but couldn’t to qualify for a waiver of any late enrollment penalty.
What Actions Can You Take to Help Your Clients?
Unfortunately, there isn’t too much you or your clients can do if they’re at a standstill besides keep trying to contact the SSA if needed and waiting. Here are a few general recommendations:
- To help avoid delays, encourage and help your clients to apply for Medicare as soon as they can.
- Direct your clients to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B online, rather than over the phone, at SSA.gov.
- If there’s a need to call Social Security, try to call when their national number may be less busy:
- Between 8AM and 10AM
- Between 4PM and 7PM
- Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays
- In the second half of the month
- If a call to the SSA is disconnected, do not call back right away, as that can worsen the problem.
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We realize this situation is frustrating. Please know others out there are experiencing the same issues and Medicare is taking steps to make sure your clients are not unfairly penalized during this time.