Find Help

Seniors Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits


· What age can I begin receiving full retirement benefits?

· What does benefits counseling include?

· What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

· I am getting a divorce. Am I entitled to any of my ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits?


Q. What age can I begin receiving full retirement benefits?

A. Full retirement age for people born 1937 or earlier has been 65. For those born in 1938 or later, that age will gradually increase until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959. The following chart shows the steps in which the age will increase:

Year of Birth Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier 65

1938 65 and 2 months

1939 65 and 4 months

1940 65 and 6 months

1941 65 and 8 months

1942 65 and 10 months

1943-1954 66

1955 66 and 2 months

1956 66 and 4 months

1957 66 and 6 months

1958 66 and 8 months

1959 66 and 10 months

1960 and later 67

Contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Can I change my Medicare Advantage Plan?

Q. I signed up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, but now I am not happy. Can I switch back to Original Medicare?

A. You have one opportunity to switch back to original Medicare from January 1 to February 14. This period is called the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. You can also enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan. Changes you make during this period are effective the first of the following month. Contact 1-800-Medicare or visit
www.medicare.gov for more information.

Q: What does benefits counseling include?

A: The Dallas Area Agency on Aging Benefits Counselors provide one-on-one assistance to seniors needing information about Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, completing Medicare and supplementary claim forms, explaining the pros and cons of health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and providing information about long-term care options, including long-term care insurance. The benefits counselor’s role is to provide factual, unbiased information and assistance and to act as advocates when needed. You can find a benefits counselor in locations throughout Dallas County in senior centers, recreation

centers, churches, and clinics. For the nearest location to you, dial 2-1-1 and ask for a Benefits Counseling Site.

Q. What’s the difference between Medicare or Medicaid?

A. While Medicare and Medicaid sound similar, they are in fact very different programs.

Medicare serves:


· People 65 and over

· People of any age who have kidney failure or long term kidney disease

· People who are permanently disabled and cannot work

· Medicare is applied for at the local Social Security office or www.ssa.gov


Medicaid serves low-income persons:


· Pregnant women

· Children under the age of 19

· People 65 and over

· People who are blind

· People who are disabled

· People who need nursing home care


Application for Medicaid is at the State Medicaid office. Call 2-1-1 for locations.


Q: I am getting a divorce. Am I entitled to any of my ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits?


A person can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if he or she:

· Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years

· Is at least age 62 years old

· Is unmarried, and

· Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.


In addition, the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own retirement or disability benefit. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit if he or she meets the eligibility requirements above and has been divorced from the former spouse for at least two years.

This tidbit is little known information that is taught at the Dallas Area Agency on Aging Benefits Educational Seminars. For a listing of upcoming seminars, contact
2-1-1 or for more information on this subject, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

Remember: You have to know your ex-spouse’s Social Security number to apply for benefits off his or her record. His or her Social Security Check will not be reduced. You are entitled to receive what is equivalent to one half of the amount of the ex-spouse’s check.