Category: Uncategorized

The #1 Reason Why You Should Enroll in Medicare Part A (Even If You’re Still Working)

The #1 Reason Why You Should Enroll in Medicare Part A

(Even If You’re Still Working)

Whether or not you should sign up for Part B while still actively employed is a little more questionable.  I mean, why pay that $134 a month premium if you’re employer plan is doing a fine job at a cheaper price?  (Call our office if you would like advice on whether or not to take Part B.)  But Part A is not like that.  There are basically no downsides to enrolling once you’ve turned 65.  Why, you ask?


Because It’s Free!

Of course, that is neglecting the fact that you’ve paid into social security for about 40 years and—therefore—have earned it.  But—wherever you stand on the proverbial “free lunch” debate— this does not change the fact that Medicare Part A has no associated premium.  If you are approaching 65 and have paid into Social Security for at least 10 years, there is no reason to delay.


There is only one reason why you would want to opt out of Part A…


Health Savings Accounts

If you have an HSA and wish to continue contributing to it, you may want to delay Part A.  Of course, you can still have an HSA.  And you can still use it to pay medical expenses.  But you cannot put any money into it after you enroll in Medicare.  There are some people who do, of course—whether unknowingly or purposefully—but this is not a wise choice.  If the IRS audits you, you will be subject to a stiff penalty.  According to IRS publication 969, the penalty is 6% of your contribution and its interest until you remove the funds from your HSA.


But other than that, you should definitely enroll in Part A if you are approaching 65.  All those years of the government dipping into your earnings have paid off—if only in a small way.  There may not be such a thing as a “free lunch”, but there is such a thing as taking advantage of what you’ve so rightfully earned.


We know.  Medicare is confusing.  But we can help make sense of it all by mapping out a plan that fits your needs and your budget.  Just contact Seniormark at 937-492-8800 or click here to schedule a free consultation!

Seniormark welcomes new member to their team!

Seniormark welcomes new member to their team!


Please help us welcome Renee Homan to our Seniormark team.  Renee comes to Seniormark with 8 years of healthcare and Medicare experience in the long-term care industry, 5 years of experience in banking and has also served as an OSHIIP volunteer through the Ohio Department of Insurance from 2012-2018.  With her passion to assist and educate the senior population, she will be an asset to the Seniormark team.  Renee has seen the aftermath of poor decisions and misinformation in her past positions so she is excited to inform retirees of their options and help them to make the right choices on the front end.  She resides in New Bremen with her husband, Shane, two children, Alex and Chloe and their dog, Lucy.  Outside of work, Renee enjoys spending time with family & friends, watching sports (especially watching her kids play sports) and traveling.  We are excited to have her on-board and just in time for annual enrollment!

A Major Announcement from Premier Health Plans!

Major Announcement from Premier Health Plans!


Premier Health Insuring Corporation, which does business under the name Premier Health Plan (“Premier Health Plan”), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently mutually agreed to terminate their Medicare Advantage plan contract, effective April 1, 2018.


Each beneficiary enrolled in Premier Health Plan’s Medicare Advantage plans (Premier Health Advantage (HMO), Premier Health Advantage Choice™ (HMO-POS), and Premier Health Advantage VIP (HMO SNP) will receive a letter within the next few days that will outline important details about this transition. Click on the appropriate plan description below to view a copy of the notice letter. The letters will begin mailing on March 2 and should arrive in as early as March 5.


CMS has granted each impacted beneficiary a Special Enrollment Period (“SEP”) through May 31, 2018. If a beneficiary does not take action by April 1, 2018, they will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare and Silverscript, a Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.


7 Candies That Will Bring Back Childhood Memories

7 Candies That Will Bring Back Childhood Memories

My grandma used to pick out a small bag of candy every Saturday when her family visited their local meat locker. While her dad was stacking slabs of beef in the chilly deep freeze, she was in the nearby candy shop with her sister, carefully selecting candies from glass jars. Their favorite? Maple nuggets.


When they got home, they would all play cards together and share a small bag of potato chips, but (because they had to share with the rest of their brothers and sisters) they had to wait until the next morning to eat the tantalizing maple nuggets.


The anticipation. The chewy center and creamy, maple covering. The memories.


I’ve found that a lot of boomers have similar experiences with old time candies. It only takes one look, one smell, one word, and they are back in that candy shop with just a nickel or dime to spend. Here are 7 candies that may just take you down memory lane.


  1. Atomic Fireballs

These red, plastic-wrapped wrapped jawbreakers don’t start out too hot, but give it a few minutes, and you start to feel the burn. Let it set a while longer, and your mouth is on fire… a real face-contorting, tear-jerking, sweat- inducing treat. Did you make it until the end…or were you a wimp?


  1. Candy Cigarettes

Way back when, kids were chain-smokin’ these babies by the carton. They’re practically a chalky and sugary gateway drug to real tobacco…


All right, that’s probably taking it too far! But for real—did you know that candy cigarettes are banned in many countries for this very reason?


  1. Neccos: “The Original Candy Wafer”

Spearmint. Black licorice. Cinnamon. These chalky discs of sugar were stacked into a cylinder and wrapped in paper. They are basically glorified tums, but when you’re a kid, you don’t care! Candy is candy, after all!


  1. Clark’s Teaberry Gum (and the rockin’ commercial)

What made this gum special was not its flavor or the pink packaging, but its commercial. Does anyone remember the teaberry shuffle commercial? I bet some of you recall soldiers, shoppers, and football players alike popping a piece of gum and then busting a killer dance move… “Clark’s teaberry gum presents the teaberry shuffle!” After a little jig, they continued as if nothing happened. If you are having trouble picturing it, click the link to view the video. I had a good belly laugh…I’m sure you will too!

  1. Wax Lips

Ridiculous? Yes. Flavorless? You bet. Still pretty awesome? Of course! This Halloween gag is exactly what it sounds like: lips made of edible wax—fun to play with, not so much to eat.


  1. Squirrel Nut Zipper

These nutty, creamy, vanilla caramels are a classic. But do you know how they got their name?  I read this story on It’s quite funny: After coaxing a drunken man down from a tree, the cops asked him to explain himself. He said, “It must have been the nut zipper,” referring to a popular alcoholic beverage in the town. One of the managers of the Squirrel Brand read the police report in the newspaper. He thought it was a great name for their new candy…and the rest is history.


  1. Sky Bars

Yellow wrapper. Red lettering. Milk chocolate compartments with a different delicious filling in each: one section of vanilla, one of caramel, one of peanut, and one of fudge. Eat your favorite section first or last. It’s up to you.


That’s all I got folks! I hope this post awakened your sweet tooth. And if it awakened any childhood memories as well, please share them in the comments. We want to reminisce with you!


Retiring soon? Not sure what you have to do next? Give us a call at 937-492-8800 and we’ll help you get on the right track!




7 Hits From 1970: Did You “Groove” to Any of These Songs Your Graduation Year?

7 Hits From 1970: Did You “Groove” to Any of These Songs Your Graduation Year?

Music has often defined a generation, and—let me tell you—you baby boomers had it all. The most iconic music festival of all time (need I actually say it?). Heart felt country. Psychedelic rock.  Folk rock. Soul. You guys even had the Beatles and the Jackson 5 for crying out loud! It’s just not fair (really…we’ll trade you Taylor Swift and then we can call it even)! The 60s and 70s were no-doubt the complete package.


So—as a testament to your senior year of high school—here are 7 songs you used to groove to in 1970. Click the links; hear the tunes.

  1. Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn

The twang of steel guitars interpolated between the twang of Loretta’s sweet voice is still ringing in my ears. And the genuine, tear-jerking lyrics are a refreshing change from the worn out phrases that so often adorn the overly produced country music of modern times. Loretta Lynn had it right. Being country has little to do with alcohol or trucks or “painted on blue jeans;” instead, it has everything to do with humble roots, a good work ethic, and priceless love in the midst of financial hardship.


Memorable Lyric: “Well, I was borned a coal miner’s daughter in a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler. We were poor, but we had love. That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of. He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar.”

2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

This song was originally released by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel in 1967, but Diana Ross’s version resurfaced the classic song in 1970. Ross puts some new twists on the song including several dramatic spoken sections, but the gospel vibes and the soulful, dynamic power that inspires audiences to overcome any difficulty still remain from the original release all the way to now. Thank you, Diana Ross. Your soaring vocals are greatly appreciated.


Fun Fact: According to, Hillary Clinton used this song extensively in her 2016 campaign for the presidency.

3. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

With a gentle piano accompaniment and Garfunkel’s flowing tenor vocal, this song stills the troubled mind. A simple but profound piece about sacrificial love, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a ballad not too soon forgotten. According to The Rolling Stone, it reached the number one spot in spring of 1970 and didn’t sink from the charts for over a year, remaining at the top for 10 weeks and selling 13 million copies!


Memorable Lyric: “I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”

4. American Woman by The Guess Who

I felt like we’ve been a little soft so far down this list, so I’m going to drop in a hard rock song for good measure. “American Woman”, with its aggressive, no-nonsense lyrics and its growling, “stick-it-to-you” vocal does just the trick.  But be careful. It may induce head banging.


Memorable Lyric: “American woman, stay away from me-he. American woman, mama let me be-he. Don’t come hanging around my door. I don’t wanna see your face no more…”

5. Layla by Derek and the Dominos

Instant ear gratification. The iconic fire of Eric Clapton’s opening guitar riff is almost mesmerizing. While “American Woman” is more about getting rid of a woman, “Layla” is all about going mad, pining for her affections. “Let’s make the best of the situation before I finally go insane. Please don’t say we’ll never find a way, and tell me all my love’s in vain,” Clapton writes. This anthem of unrequited love made the Rolling Stone’s List of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Number 27…check it out.


Fun Fact: Did you know that Eric Clapton penned this classic about Pattie Boyd, the same woman who inspired the Beatle’s George Harrison to write “Something”? Dang, this girl must’ve been the cat’s meow! The whole story of this love triangle is quite unbelievable.

6. Let It Be by the Beatles

No 1970s playlist would be complete without a Beatle’s song, so I dug this one out of the archives. This simple song with its message of comfort and peace was written during one of the more turbulent times of Paul McCartney’s life. He said that his Mother (named Mary, of course) appeared to him a dream, whispering this profound and reassuring word of wisdom: “Let it be.”


Memorable Lyric: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”

7. ABC by The Jackson 5

To go out with a bang of boyish exuberance, I would like to reintroduce you to Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and (of course) little Michael himself. Taking on the concept of love, these 5 Jacksons sold it every performance—with color, soul, and some killer synchronized dance moves.


Memorable Lyric: “Sit yourself down, take a seat. All you gotta do is repeat after me…”


Well, that’s a wrap! I could write a witty conclusion to this post, but I think I’ll just let it be (did you see what I did there?).


Also, remember to talk to us! What’s your favorite song on this list? Can you think of another nostalgic song from the year 1970? If so, leave us a comment! We love to hear from you.


Turning 65 soon and not sure what to do? Click here to sign up for our free Medicare workshop. No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of Medicare!



List ideas Courtesy of Seek Publishing, Inc – Birmingham AL

5 Strategies to Get the Most Benefits Out of Your Social Security

5 Strategies to Get the Most Benefits Out of Your Social Security

It’s human nature to want to get the most out of everything. That’s why “stretching your dollar” appeals work so well.  It’s also why people spend 15 minutes scrounging that last bit of toothpaste from the tube (you know you’ve done it).


As you are approaching retirement, you’ll want to do the same thing with your Social Security.


Of course, there are a lot of strategies to consider, and this list definitely won’t be exhaustive (unless you want a Encyclopedia Britannica-length blog post). But if you have just started thinking about Social Security and how you’re going to squeeze those last few dollar signs out of the tube…this is a good place start.


Boost Benefits While Your Income Has Peaked

Social Security bases your benefits on your income over 35 years. They pick your highest income years and do some mind-bending, brain-busting, soul-sucking math equations and bam! Out pops your PIA, which is your monthly Social Security Check. Here’s the moral of the story: higher average earnings over 35 years= higher PIA= more money in your Social Security check every month.


I take it you are earning more now than you did when you were 30? So what would happen if you would work a few extra years, making your peak income? Those lower income years (when you were just scraping by) could drop out of the equation, leading to a better Social Security check. According to Elaine Floyd, a Certified Financial Planner from Savvy Social Security Planning, waiting to retire until 70 as opposed to 62 will you earn you an extra $31,000 in increased Social Security benefits. It’s not a lot, but taken along with an extra eight years of fat income, it might very well be worth the extra work. Or—as Floyd put it—the extra $31,000 is like “icing on the cake.”


Maximize Your Money By Delaying Benefits

Good things come to those who wait. Delaying benefits until 70, 67, or even 65 can be difficult. It will take a strong financial situation, strong health, and a strong will. But your patience will be worth it in the end.


In fact, your benefit payment goes up by 8% for every year after full retirement age that you delay. That’s a lot of cash. So unless you can’t afford to wait or you have a low life expectancy, I recommend waiting.


Take Advantage of Spousal Benefits

Spousal benefits are 50% of the other spouse’s PIA (monthly Social Security check). For couples where one spouse is obviously the “breadwinner” of the two, this is especially beneficial to know. Because—a lot of times—half of the higher income earner’s Social Security check is way more than the full amount of the lower income earning spouse. And you can’t take both. But keep in mind, in order to claim spousal benefits, you have to have been legally married for at least one year and be at least 62. It’s also important to note that both the husband and wife cannot claim spousal benefits at the same time, and—it almost goes without saying—they stop when you are no longer married.


Collect Benefits From a Divorced Spouse

You may never want to see them again, but you may want to see their money. Don’t worry…this isn’t stealing! It won’t affect their benefits at all. It works exactly like spousal benefits. You get 50% of what your ex-wife or husband gets in their Social Security check. The only key here is that you have to have been married for 10 years and not be remarried.


Collect Survivor Benefits

If your spouse has passed on, you can collect his or her benefits on their behalf. You will have to forfeit your own check, but a lot of times your husband or wife’s check is better anyways.

So there you have it—5 ways to maximize your social security. But it is important to realize: Social Security (like all things involved with the government) is very complicated. It takes a person with a lot of expertise to help you get the most out of your social security, just like it takes a person with a lot of muscle to work out that last bit of toothpaste.

Wondering when you should start Social Security benefits? Have Social Security questions that need answered? Discover more about our free Social Security workshop designed to help you answer your most pressing questions.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements

When it comes to Medicare, you only have two big options. That’s it.

The piles of mail you’ve been receiving from various agents as you approach 65 do not represent hundreds of choices. There are only 2 ways to get your Medicare coverage.

First, I hope you have already signed up for Medicare (If not, hop on over to our blog titled “What Is the Fastest Way to Sign Up For Medicare? to take care of that, then come back and read the rest of this!).

The first way is just to stick with original Medicare—Parts A and B. Then you need what is known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, named as such because it “supplements” Medicare, filling in the gaps of what Medicare doesn’t cover.

The other option, however, is to get a Medicare Advantage Plan. This is an alternative to Original Medicare provided through private insurance companies that have contracted with Medicare. Although you still have to sign up for Parts A and B to be eligible, this replaces Medicare as the primary payer of your claims.

Choosing one or the other comes down to what’s most important to you. You can’t have both! What I am going to do is hold both of these options up to the light, side-by-side, so you can see clearly the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Check it out:

Medicare Supplement



  1. Minimal Out-of-Pocket Spending

You won’t have much coinsurance or copays with a Supplement. Most of it is covered.


  1. Predictability

They are also fairly consistent from year to year. They do creep up in premium (see our blog “Beat the Medicare Supplement Creep”, but they rarely leap! The benefits are guaranteed to stay the same.


  1. Out-of-State Coverage

Supplements cover you the same whether you are in your home state or out. Vacation homes? Extensive trips? No big deal. You’re covered.


  1. No Networks

You are free to use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare without sacrificing your coverage.




  1. Higher Premium

An in-the-ballpark average Supplement price is about $110 per month premium. This is higher than most Advantage Plans.


  1. No Drug Plan

Drug plans are not built in. You have to get a stand-alone drug plan, which cost an average of $34.10 per month in 2016.


Medicare Advantage



  1. High Out-of-Pocket Spending

Advantage plans have more of a pay-as-you-go approach. Higher copays, coinsurance, and unexpected costs are common.


  1. Unpredictability

Since Advantage plans are funded by government subsidy, benefits and premium costs tend to vary from year to year as a result.





  1. Out-of-State Coverage…Sometimes

Only in the case of emergency will you receive coverage out of your home state. Other than that, you’re on your own.


  1. Networks

They have them…networks of preferred hospitals and doctors. If you don’t use those preferred providers, you might have less coverage or—depending on the plan—no coverage at all.



  1. Low to No Premium

The average premium is somewhere around 60 dollars a month. Some are even free!


  1. Built-in Drug Plan

The vast majority of Advantage plans include a drug plan. No hassle or extra premium for you!

As you can see, the Medicare Supplement route is more costly, but there are a lot of benefits that give you more peace of mind and—all in all—less hassle.

On the other hand, the Medicare Advantage route is more economic, but it has fewer benefits, leading to unexpected costs and stress.

But both do their jobs. They both limit the potentially high out-of-pocket spending that is left by Medicare alone. Whatever you choose, don’t leave yourself vulnerable. Medicare alone is never a good idea!

Turning 65 soon and not sure what to do? Click here to sign up for our free Medicare workshop. No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of Medicare!


10 Medicare Terms To Get You Started

10 Medicare Terms To Get You Started

If you’ve ever done research in your life, you know that knowledgeable people sometimes overdo it. They use words that only other life-long Medicare experts would know.


And when you ask them to explain, what do they do? Use even bigger and scarier words to describe the ones you didn’t understand in the first place. Our philosophy: Never use a big word, when a singularly un-loquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will do the trick.


Over our 19 years of helping retirees, it has served us well. Now we are here to pass our knowledge onto you in words you understand. To get started, here are 10 commonly used terms:

1. Medicare

At the top of the list, I like to kick-it-off with the basics. Medicare is a government-run health care program for those over 65. It is also for younger people with disabilities or kidney failure, but its primary concern is to serve the older generation.

2. Medicaid

This is often confused with Medicare, but they are completely different programs. Although they both serve the same purpose (to provide health insurance), Medicaid is for people with low income. There is a chance that you might be eligible for both programs at the same time.

3. Medicare Beneficiary

This is you. Or if you haven’t signed up yet, it will be you very soon. A Medicare beneficiary is a person enrolled in Medicare, receiving Medicare benefits.

4. Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

The IEP is made up of 3 parts: the 3 months before you turn 65, your 65th birthday month, and the 3 months after. This 7-month window is the time that most people should sign up for Medicare. If you miss your IEP, it could lead to costly penalties. So pay attention. Like all time, those 7 months will fly by!

5. Part A

Medicare is divided up into 4 parts (A, B, C, and D). And Part A is your inpatient care. It includes nursing care, hospice, and some home health services. But—for the most part—it is coverage for when you are officially checked-in at a hospital.

6. Part B

Part B is exactly the opposite of Part A. It is your outpatient care, including lab tests, medically necessary supplies, and various screenings. To keep simple, Part B is care received while checked-out of the hospital.

7. Original (Traditional) Medicare

This one is simple. Whenever someone refers to original (or traditional) Medicare, they are referring to Parts A and B together.

8. Part C (Medicare Advantage)

Medicare Advantage is an alternative to original Medicare offered through private insurance companies that have contracted with Medicare. In other words, they replace Medicare as your health insurance provider. About 1 in 4 people choose Medicare Advantage, according to the Reader’s Digest. To find out the advantages and disadvantages of Part C, click here.

NOTE: You still have to sign up for Parts A and B to be eligible for Part C.

9. Part D

Part D is your drug plan. It covers your prescription medications. Also offered through private insurance companies, almost everyone signs up for Part D in addition to original Medicare (Parts A and B).

10. Medicare Supplement Insurance

A supplement is fondly nicknamed a “Medigap plan.” It is referred to this way because it “fills in the gaps” of what Medicare Parts A and B doesn’t cover on its own. Without it, you leave yourself quite vulnerable. There is no limit to what you could spend in uncovered health care costs!

That should be enough to get you started on this often-overwhelming journey of Medicare planning. As you continue to learn more and plan your retirement, we are committed to keeping you up-to date and informed…in words you can understand. How did we do? Leave us a comment below to pose any questions or concerns!


Turning 65 soon and confused about Medicare? Click here to sign up for our free Medicare workshop. No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of Medicare! We put it into words you can understand.



When Should I Take Social Security? — 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision

When Should I Take Social Security? — 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision

Wow. That is a whopper of a question. And with social security getting a lot more media coverage lately, it is a question on the forefront of many minds just like yours. Most experts will answer with a resounding “wait!” “Wait until your full retirement age!” Or even “Wait until you are 70!”


And I am inclined to agree with them on many accounts, but this only tells a little bit of the story.


The truth is that no one can offer you a definite yes or no, now or later, 62 or 70 answer. It depends on a great number of factors:  your personal goals, convictions, health, and financial situation. This is why—instead of trying (and failing) to answer the question for you myself—I am going to offer you some guidepost questions for you to ask yourself. If answered thoroughly, the questions will lead you down a path to a good decision.


1.  Will I Continue Working Full Time?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not you are going to continue employment.  Because if you retire prior to your full retirement age, income matters when it comes to Social Security benefits. If you make it over the $16,920 a year earnings-test amount, Social Security begins reducing your benefit check. Having a higher income over your lifetime actually helps your benefits, but while you are receiving them—not so much.  In fact, for every $2 over the earnings-test amount, $1 will be deducted from your benefits checks for the year.


Allow me to put this into perspective. This means that a $2000 a month check ($24,000 a year) can vanish very quickly. Let’s put it this way: a person making $64,920 a year (48,000 over the earnings-test amount) will have all of their benefits reduced to zero. It would be like they never signed up at all!


Part time work to keep you busy won’t usually reach the earnings-test amount, but—in almost every other case—I strongly recommend waiting.


2.  What Resources Do I Have?

If you decide that you have had enough of your stressful job and decide to retire, you will no longer have a steady source of income. This is where drawing Social Security earlier can come in handy.


But there are exceptions. For example, If you have a strong enough financial situation, you can get by without your social security check and maximize your benefits no problem.


So check your storehouses. Do you have a sufficient nest egg? A retirement plan like a 401(k) or IRA? Investments? Pension income? In other words, do you have something to live off of while you let your Social Security benefits accrue? If not, then you need to take social security. But if you do, it might be a good idea to delay.


3.  What’s My Life Expectancy?

It’s also important to remember that waiting to collect Social Security benefits is still a trade off. If you collect at age 66, for example, you will get more checks in the mail than if you wait until 70 (48 to be exact). But if you wait until 70, you will receive checks that are 32% bigger. The decision you are really trying to make is this: Do I want more, smaller checks now or fewer, larger checks later?


This is where life expectancy swoops in to help. If you live a long life, larger checks later is usually the better bet because you will likely reach your break-even point, the age when the larger check begins to benefit you. (For an in-the ballpark figure, the break even point for many people is 10-12 years after their full retirement age.) But if you don’t, taking more, smaller checks now is the right approach. You may not have time to wait.  In that case, reap the benefits now.


In order to determine life expectancy, you can consider your current health status and your family’s history with longevity, but this would be a shot-in-the-dark speculation.


Instead, I recommend using a highly customized life expectancy calculator like It takes into account everything from exercise habits, family history, all the way to how you barbecue your meats (not sure how this affects life expectancy) to create a truly personalized calculation. Of course, this is still speculation, but at least it is speculation based on carefully- researched scientific data. Not as much a shot in the dark.


4.  Am I Married?

If you’ve been married for more than a couple weeks, you know that marriage changes everything. From finances to weekend plans to what you’re going to make for dinner, you’ve got someone else to think about.


Marriage also affects Social Security. For instance, you might have poor health and a bleak life expectancy. In this case, it might make sense for you to take out Social Security early. But what about your spouse? When you pass away, your spouse receives your full Social Security benefit. If he or she lives long, it may still be beneficial to delay.


And this is just one of quite a few examples.


A Final Thought

I would like to emphasize this point one more time: the question of when to take Social Security is not one-size-fits-all. It’s not strategic to delay benefits if you don’t have the means to do so. But the “I might die tomorrow anyhow, so I might as well take it now” approach is not the best either. In order to get to the right answer, you first have to ask the right questions.  So analyze your situation, learn all you can, and—at the end of the day—sit down with an expert you trust to put it all together.


Need some help making decisions about Social Security? We are offering a workshop on Social Security planning on September 7 in our Sidney office.  You can sign up by clicking here:  Social Security planning workshop or by calling our office at 937-492-8800.  As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call our office any time.

Skilled vs. Custodial Care: Not Knowing The Difference Could Cost You Thousands

Skilled vs. Custodial Care: Not Knowing The Difference Could Cost You Thousands

Every once in a while a client of ours visits our office with a hefty nursing home bill for their spouse or family member.  They want to know why Medicare didn’t cover their loved one’s stay.  After all, doesn’t Part A cover inpatient services?  The exchange usually ends with a huff of frustration:  “Medicare doesn’t seem to cover much of anything.”

I sympathize with this situation.  I really do.  But I find that their annoyance with Medicare usually subsides with a little understanding.  What they need to know is the difference between custodial and skilled nursing care, two important terms for retirees that are often used interchangeably or left unused.

So What’s the Difference?

Custodial care is non-skilled care for help with daily living. Think bathing, eating, getting up, sitting down, and going to the bathroom. This is not to say this type of assistance doesn’t take any skill. In fact, I would argue that it takes a great deal of patience, perseverance, communication and an awful lot of compassion. But this type of care can be administered safely without the help of a licensed nurse. That’s the difference.

Skilled nursing care is exactly the opposite. This type of care includes physical therapy or injections. It is delivered by registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. The driving idea is rehabilitation. They want to nurse the patients back to health, so they can take care of their daily living by themselves once again.


$ The Pocketbook Difference $

Here’s the dollars and cents difference: Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care, leaving you exposed to nursing home costs of 6000-8000 a month. However, it does cover the first 20 days of skilled nursing under part A (as long as you meet Medicare’s requirement for a skilled nursing stay).


This brings us back to our clients.

What they misunderstood was the nature of their loved one’s stay. Maybe it started out as skilled nursing care (and Medicare covered it), but transitioned into custodial care as the physical therapy or injections were no longer needed. Or maybe it was custodial care from the very beginning and their dad or brother or friend needs assistance over the long haul. Regardless, both of these scenarios resulted in overwhelming out-of-pocket costs.

The only way to combat these out-of-pocket costs is with careful planning. You can get a long-term care policy to cover custodial care. And you can get a Medicare Supplement to pick up the tab for days 21-100 for skilled nursing. It’s true that Medicare leaves a lot of gaps, so much so that it can feel like they don’t cover much of anything. But they are upfront about it, and they do deliver what they promise.

Need expert advice on Medicare? Call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation.



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