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Now That You’re 65 – 10 Things You Need to Know

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

Update August 2017: This series, and particularly its Part 2, seemed very timely after we received this comment from Marty: “Please remind all your readers to consider the possibility of losing their mate and being in an unfamiliar area. Wills may have to go to Probate Court, decisions made on burials, and accounts frozen. Not having your old friends around adds to the loneliness.”

Note: This is Part 1 in a series. See also “10 More Checklist Items for the Retiring Baby Boomer“, as well as Part 3: 7 Must-Do Items Now That You Are Retired. We have another multi-part series that relates specifically to Medicare “Now That You’re 65, How to Get Started with Medicare”.

January 9, 2011 — The oldest of the nation’s baby boomers, those born in 1946, start turning 65 this year. For people who grew up with the Mickey Mouse Club and the Lone Ranger, the thought of getting involved with the Social Security Administration might be hard to swallow, but it is about to happen to you. This article will be your primer for what you need to do, now that you are 65. Note: The government’s Social Security and Medicare websites are first rate and very helpful. We have used much of their information in the sections below, and provided links as well.

1. Register for Medicare to start your health care coverage
Medicare is a Health Insurance Program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease. Sign up three months before the month you turn 65 to insure that coverage begins on the first day of your birth month. Don’t wait until your birth month to apply or you might experience coverage delays. To apply, visit your local Social Security office or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You can apply online (using the Internet) if you meet certain rules. To apply online, visit You cannot apply online if you want to enroll in Medicare but not start your Social Security payments.

2. Decide about Part B insurance
Even if you keep working after you turn 65, you should sign up for Medicare Part A. If you have health coverage through your employer or union, Part A may still help pay some of the costs not covered by your group health plan. However, you may want to wait to sign up for Medicare Part B if you or your spouse are working and have group health coverage, because you will be paying the premium for coverage you are probably already getting.

3. Decide about a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C).
A Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). For more on Part C.

4. Part D – Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Decision
Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. There are two ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage:
1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. These plans (sometimes called “PDPs”) add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
2. Medicare Advantage Plans (like an HMO or PPO) are other Medicare health plans that offer Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Part A and Part B coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D), through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called “MA-PDs.”

Important: If you decide not to join a Medicare drug plan when you’re first eligible, and you don’t have other credible prescription drug coverage, you will likely pay a late enrollment penalty from then until when you die.

Finding a Medicare Drug Plan:
The Medicare Drug Plan Finder can help you find and compare plans in your area.

Costs of Part B: Your Part D monthly premium could change based on your income. Many people qualify to get extra help paying their Medicare prescription drug costs but don’t know it. Most who qualify and join a Medicare drug plan will get 95% of their costs covered. You must have Medicare Part A or Part B to get Part D coverage. See Medicare Part D for more details.

Consider a Medigap Policy. Many people also consider a Medigap policy to cover out-of-pocket expenses like the $1,156 deductible (these might increase from year to year) for hospitalization under Part A, or the 20 percent coinsurance for outpatient and physician care under Part B. This Medicare brochure explains them in greater detail, including how to shop for one.

5. Decide when you want to start receiving social security.
If you have started taking your benefits this question doesn’t apply. For people born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If you were in born in 1946 and elect to start receiving your benefits this year, you will get 93.3% of the monthly benefit you would receive if you waited until age 66. If you delay taking benefits even longer (until a maximum of age 70), you will receive 8% more for each year you wait.

When to start taking your benefits is an important question with many different factors and conflicting opinions. If you live to the average life expectancy it probably doesn’t make any difference when you start – if you start early you will get less over a longer time, and if you start later you get more for a shorter time. If you continue working your benefits can be reduced – in 2010 if you were under your full retirement age, for every $2 over the $14,160 limit, $1 is withheld from benefits. In the year you reach full retirement age the limit goes to $37,681; then for every $3 over the limit there is a benefit reduction of $1. After that you can make as much as you want and see no reduction in benefits.

If you live longer than the average life expectancy you would probably earn more if you started your benefits later. When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits from the Social Security Administration is very helpful; so is “A Surprising Answer as to When to Start Taking Social Security Benefits” from Here’s where you can apply for Social Security.

6. Save more money for retirement
If you are working, it’s never too late to save more for your retirement (and shield it from taxation until at least age 70 and 1/2). For example, if you are over age 50 you can contribute $6,000 to your IRA (until the year you reach 70.5). You might also be able to contribute to a 401k, Roth IRA, or SEP. Contact your tax professional to find out what might apply in your situation.

7. Decide where you are going to retire
We hope you visit Topretirements to help find out your best place to retire (which might be where you live now). Even if you are not going to retire for a few more years, it is not too early to start planning. Make a list of your primary considerations (our “Baby Boomers Guide to Selecting a Retirement Community” is a great resource”). Check out Topretirements to look for towns that fit your needs. Take our Retirement Ranger Quiz to help identify likely towns and communities. Then start visiting different places – either on special trips or tacked on to your other travel. Take advantage of “Stay and Play” packages – there is no better way to evaluate a place than to stay there for a while.

8. Write out your bucket list
Take active charge of your own retirement – this is your chance to do anything you want. Spend some time and write out the list of things you want to accomplish in the rest of your life. Our “Retirement Bucket List” article can definitely help.

9. Take responsibility for your own retirement
In a recent PBS show, “Will Baby Boomer Retirements Strain U.S. Resources“, Judy Woodruff interviewed 2 experts about baby boomers’ impact on retirement. Ted Fishman, who wrote “Shock of Gray” talked about the impact of having fewer than ever workers support a huge number of retired boomers. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute urged boomers to take charge of their finances, since most haven’t saved enough, and many had to retire earlier than planned. He urged boomers to ask pro-active questions like: “How do I improve my skills so I can work longer and save more money.”

10. Start taking your senior citizen discounts
Sure it hurts to be getting older. But for those of us with a little Scotch ancestry, saving 10-15% every time we buy a movie ticket, cup of coffee, or ski pass might help take the sting out of it.

Note: Premiums and other numbers will change over time. See and for the latest figure.

For further reference:
Part 2: 10 More Checklist Items for the Retiring Baby Boomer
Part 3: 7 Must-Do Items Now That You Are Retired
Didn’t Sign up for Medicare Part D – Double Ouch!
“Now That You’re 65, Wow to Get Started with Medicare”.
Social Security Website
How to Solve the Healthcare Insurance Puzzle if You Retire Before Age 65
Consumer Reports info on Medigap Policies

What Else Should You Know, Now That You Are 65?
Please use the Comments section below to tell us what we missed, or add your thoughts and observations.

Posted by John Brady on January 9th, 2011


  1. In some states, like Georgia, after age 62 you can stop paying some tax’s. Like school tax’s (65%) of your tax’s. And – Others are reduced. But you have to go fill out the forms at your local tax office. They won’t come looking for you……..

    by Danny — January 12, 2011

  2. Your retirement newsletter overall is great. This article was in particular, very helpful. Keep up the good work!

    by Bruce — January 12, 2011

  3. More info on SS. If you are divorced or widowed, you may take your spousal benefit at your retirement age and defer your own benefit until later which will allow it to grow. You must have been married for 10 years. This could let you retire in stages.

    by LuluM — January 12, 2011

  4. You can sign up for just Part A of Medicare online. I just did it yesterday. I am still employed and signed up for Part A only. The process was streamlined and easy to do.

    by Sue — January 12, 2011

  5. P.S. – I did not sign up for Social Security at this time, either, and I was still able to sign up for Part A only online.

    by Sue — January 12, 2011

  6. Danny makes an excellent point. At age 65 (sometimes other ages too) you can become eligible for a whole raft of tax breaks and exemptions, not only on income tax but also on property tax. Call your town hall or look on your state website to find what you might be eligible for.

    by topretirementseditor — January 12, 2011

  7. […] Resources: Is Medical Tourism in Your Future? Now That You're 65 – 10 Things You Need to Know (including how to sign up for Medicare) […]

    by » Your Early Retirement: What Are You Going to Do About Medical Insurance? Topretirements — July 11, 2011

  8. […] June 3, 2014 — Congratulations on your retirement, be it impending or already underway. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and we hope you enjoy every well-deserved second. But before you get too carried away with your new-found freedom, we would like to bring to your attention some housekeeping items that need to be taken care of. These are in addition to, and in fact go off in a different direction from, the to-do items in Part 1 of this series: Now That You’re 65: 10 Items You Need to Know. […]

    by » ChecklThe Retiring Baby Boomer: 10 More to Think About Topretirements — June 3, 2014

  9. […] – Start here for answers to almost all your questions. Is Medical Tourism in Your Future? Now That You’re 65 – 10 Things You Need to Know (Part 1 in a series – includes how to sign up for Medicare) Topretirements Survey Results: […]

    by » How to Solve the Health Care Puzzle if You Retire Before Age 65 - Topretirements — September 30, 2014

  10. […] further reading: Now That You’re 65 – 10 Things You Need to Know (Part 1 in a series – includes how to sign up for Medicare) Part 2: Topretirements Survey […]

    by » Open Enrollment Season Means It’s Time to Nail Down Your Health Insurance - Topretirements — November 24, 2014

  11. What about those of us (reitrees) who live outside the U.S.? I cannot find any definitive answers on what I need. I live in England and we have the National Health Insurance while I’m here. But….what about when I visit the U.S. to see my family (about once per year). Surely I’m not the only non-resident U.S. retiree.

    by Jane Hakes — November 25, 2015

  12. Jane: You should investigate short term health insurance while you are in US. If you search on that term you will see many companies that seem to offer it. You could also get it as part of a travel insurance program. You would not likely be covered by any other means while here.

    by Admin — November 26, 2015

  13. Number 7 on this list should be revised. It makes it sound like it is mandatory to move ‘somewhere else’ once you retire. Maybe Admin could add to that paragraph ‘or decide if you will retire in the town you now live in’.

    I have considered moving a lot but don’t know where or if I will. My hub has to undergo radiation treatments for a few months then after that who knows.

    We plan to go to our Town Hall and apply for Homeowners Property Tax Credit soon after the new year (2018). Not sure how much that will save on taxes but it will help. You all should check your Town Halls for this tax credit. It depends on your income to determine what the discount will be.

    Admin comment. Good point – where you live now (same town/same home, or maybe same town/new home) might be right for you. But you should make that decision consciously.

    by louise — July 3, 2017

  14. Vermont is an expensive State to live in, but it does have property tax adjustment which one applies for when filing State income tax. It is based on income & though we got little or nothing when we both worked, since retiring it seems the middle income people get about one installment (based on our 4 times a year payment). The check is sent directly to the town & applied towards your actual bill. Some States also offer property tax relief to certain mature residents. One needs to check with your local/State to see if you qualify, as we’ve heard all our lives “do your homework” PS – we are still looking for that ‘perfect place’

    by Susan — July 4, 2017

  15. Good point Louise, should not be mandatory to relocate upon retirement. Now live in worst property tax state in the union (NJ) but still not sure we want to leave. When all things are considered, not sure there is a “Perfect Place”….

    by Jim Duffield — July 4, 2017

  16. Yes, be sure to call your Town Hall or visit the Town Hall to see if there is a property tax credit. The way I found out about it is thru the Senior Center monthly newsletter. I just got my tax bill for my house and cars. Do you think they would slip in a little piece of paper explaining how to save money as a Senior citizen? NOPE! They don’t want you to know.

    There is an income limit. One family member has to be 65 for the entire year. It is a two part discount. One part is the State of CT and the second part is the Town. The maximum amount is $1,250. Peanuts really but I will take it if we qualify. I just wish the word would get out to more people. My Mom qualified for 13 years and we didn’t know about it till the last year of her life. It is a shame for those who could really use it.

    Will be interesting if the State of CT will still honor the discount considering the State is broke! We have no budget at this time.

    by louise — July 4, 2017

  17. Jim Duffield, you are right! There doesn’t seem to be the perfect place to retire. CT has to be right behind NJ as far as taxes. Every day they come up with some new idea to tax stuff. One idea they are considering is soda with sugar. I don’t drink soda with sugar but do drink diet soda. What makes me mad is that there are tons of products with sugar like ice cream, cereal, bakery items, catsup and spaghetti sauce and much more stuff. Why do they feel they have to tax soda when so many other products have sugar in them. Plus, they were talking about raising the bottle deposit, plus raise the sales tax. They were talking about taxing the miles you drive per year. We have an income tax that was supposed to cure all the financial problems in this state and go figure, we are billions in the hole. Maybe we will go bankrupt! Spend, spend, spend! If we ran our household like they run the state we would all be living under a bridge.

    My Mom was from a small town in KY and raised on a farm. I visited there many times and thought it was pretty but very back woods. Now from what I have heard, there is a LOT of crime and drugs. Hard to believe a farming community could be so messed up. Where to retire is a mystery to me!

    by louise — July 4, 2017

  18. The overwhelming majority of retirees stay put!!!

    by Bubbajog — July 4, 2017

  19. I’m sure most people who do not relocate during their retirement is because they have family they want to be close to. Others want to experience something new , such as myself, and don’t have family members to keep me in one location. And if you are used to moving to different places in your lifetime it does make it easier….I have friends who have lived in the same house for 50 years and have never traveled outside of their hometown. …sorry but that’s just not for me. I have been traveling internationally since the age of 1 and enjoy experiencing new people and places. ….

    by mary11 — July 5, 2017

  20. I remember one return flight from London – Heathrow: The 747 was filled to the hilt. Absolutely no breathing room. I was much younger and a little reckless. There was plenty of partying and drinking on that flight. As the big bird 747 touched down, the pilot loudly welcomed everyone to Los Angeles. People were clapping and cheering USA – USA – USA. I remember that strong sense of pride for being an American and for being a Angeleno. I was so happy to be HOME that I kissed the ground. A very defining moment for me personally regarding the meaning of HOME and just the gut feeling of knowing it’s right. God Bless the USA and God Bless Southern California – HOME.

    by Bubbajog — July 5, 2017

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