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Result of Delay in Filing for Benefits

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1504. Result of Delay in Filing for Benefits

1504.1 What are the advantages of filing an application on time?

It generally works to your advantage to file your application for benefits promptly, even if you are still working. Any delay in filing your application may result:

  1. In fewer payments, since:

    1. Monthly benefits cannot be paid retroactively in some instances; and

    2. Benefits cannot be paid for more than 12 months (depending on the particulars of the situation) before the month you file the application. (See §1513.)

  2. In loss of some months of coverage under the hospital and medical insurance programs.

1504.2 When is it beneficial to delay the filing of your application?

It may be to your advantage to delay filing an application for monthly benefits if:

  1. You have not yet reached FRA and you wish to wait and receive an unreduced benefit at FRA; or

  2. You would lose benefits payable under some other program.

Last Revised: March, 2001



There are 10 Comments

I didn't know that I could refuse Medicare Part B when I turn 65. I am covered under a health plan through my husband's insurance at work. I have received a bill for a quarterly premium for Part B and would like to refuse coverage. How do I do that without a big fuss. Thank you.

I am 67 and have been on my wife's insurance. i want to sign up for Part B so I can also join a Medicare Advantage Program. Is there a form I can download or can I sign up on the phone with SS?

I am insured under my wife's insurance plan. I turn 65 in mid December. I want to cancel my medicare coverage since payments will be taken out soon. How do I cancel it? Also, do I still need to have Medicare B? I heard that there is a penalty if I do not sign up for it.

My father is 78 and was told he could not have Medicare at 65 since he did not earn enough points. One doctor recently told me that even illeagls are getting Medicare now. At age 65 he was under a doctor care as he was injurred at work so I am thinking that perhaps the Medicare office mistakenly thought he was filing for disability. Is it too late to try applying again?

Does either your father or his current/ex spouse receive Social Security? If so, he likely will qualify for Medicare.

Most people 65 or older are eligible for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) based on their own—or their spouse's— employment. You are eligible at 65 if you:

  • Receive Social Security or railroad retirement benefits;
  • Are not getting Social Security or railroad retirement benefits, but you have worked long enough to be eligible for them;
  • Would be entitled to Social Security benefits based on your spouse's (or divorced spouse's) work record, and that spouse is at least 62 (your spouse does not have to apply for benefits in order for you to be eligible based on your spouse's work) ;or
  • Worked long enough in a federal, state, or local government job to be insured for Medicare.

Also, many states such as California offer programs (Medi-Cal) which provides medical coverage for elderly folks with low incomes who wouldn't otherwise qualify for Medicare.

Is there anything you can do to become eligible for Part B if you are 65 and missed the open enrollment period? Is there any other insurance can buy that will cover Part B items while waiting for the next open enrollment period?


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