My Dad Is Retiring But Plans To Continue Working Part-Time. How Can We Help Him Access His Benefits?

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Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

Dad Is Retiring Soon. How Can We Make Sure He’s Set Up With Medicare and Other Benefits?

Natalie from Maryland says: "My dad is retiring in the next year or so after working at a grocery store for 30 years. He has a small pension and will get a lump sum.

“He was told that if he changes to part-time, he may be able to keep some of his health benefits. He’s turning 65 this year but not planning to retire until next year.

“How can I best support him in this process of retiring? I want to make sure he gets all his benefits and is set up properly with Medicare. He depends heavily on the pension and his benefits, as he’s never had a 401(k).”

Clark’s Take on How To Ensure You Qualify for Medicare and Other Benefits When You Retire

Clark says: If Dad retires as a 65-year-old, he will generally be eligible for full benefits for Social Security and Medicare. But if he continues to work part-time, the Medicare aspect could get "really complicated."

Clark says if Dad continues to get health coverage from the grocery store, then he wouldn’t qualify for a normal Medicare plan.

What’s important here is how many hours Dad plans to keep working at the store.

Clark says there are two scenarios to consider:

  • If Dad continues to work for the grocery store and he gets enough hours that he would qualify for health coverage there, he would be prohibited from getting a standard Medicare plan.
  • If Dad works at the store but doesn't get enough hours to qualify for health coverage there, he would be eligible to sign up for a Medicare plan.

According to Medicare.gov, the benefits for which you qualify aren't based on how old you are as much as whether you're collecting Social Security.

With Medicare, you’ll typically need to familiarize yourself with the following types of coverage:

  • Part A (Hospital insurance)
  • Part B (Medical insurance)
  • Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance)
  • Part D (Medical drug coverage)

Clark says you can also opt for an alternative coverage called the Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans are administered by private companies approved by Medicare.

“You sign up for a traditional Medicare plan and then instead of having to buy supplements, you go to the Advantage Plan and your care is routed through one of the big insurance companies,” Clark says.

Because Medicare coverage can get really complicated and it has so many variables that could be involved, Clark suggests looking up information provided by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Here's a Medicare explainer on AARP.org that could be a great starting place.

“AARP provides very thorough information on how to make these decisions, although some of it is biased because they are in the business of selling these plans,” he says.

To hear Clark’s full take on this question, listen to the segment:

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