What is Medicare Part D?

What is Medicare Part D?

Yesterday, “What is Medicare Part D?” I was asked. So I thought I’d go ahead and write an article about it. So if you are wondering what the Part D in Medicare is, You are in the right place.

What is Medicare Part D?, Part D is For drugs, Medicare Part D is A Prescription Drug plan

Medicare Part D is one part of the federal social insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration. The plan has four parts, Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.  In case you are wondering which social insurance program that could be it is Medicare.

Some people get upset when they see the word social. They automatically think socialism. To a degree that is exactly what it is. A contribution by many for the common good. Even I can accept the premise.

What is not acceptable is how the government politicizes this program. To me, we are talking people’s lives and Medicare has been a god send for millions. Take the pure, raw politics out of the system and administer it per mandate.

What is Medicare Part D?

The Answer is Drugs

Part D is the part of this program aimed at drugs. Not the back alley kind but prescription drugs. The kind you get at a pharmacy. An eligible beneficiary can enroll in a standalone Part D insurance plan or through a Medicare Advantage Plan which is Part C of Medicare. And none of these have anything to do with “Medicare For All”, yet. Fortunately.

Don’t let all the Parts throw you off. Simply follow the bouncing ball and you’ll understand the program. Sometimes I think the government tosses out all those numbers and letters simply to confuse the participants.

To be eligible, a person must be within 3 months of their 65th birthday, in their 65th birth month or 3 months after their 65th birthday. This gives them 7 months to enroll. The person must also be enrolled in Part A & Part B. Part A & Part B are referred to as original Medicare.

Original Medicare Explained

They are called original Medicare because up until 2003 Medicare only had Part A & Part B. Part C and Part D followed in ensuing years.

If you do a quick search on Google you will find this explanation of Original Medicare:

Original Medicare is a fee-for-service health plan that has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). After you pay a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay your share (coinsurance and deductibles).

– Explanation on Google SERP(Search Engine Return Page)

That’s easy to understand. If you were on Medicare prior to 2003 you experienced the program first hand. C & D were meant to lighten the load on the Medicare recipient.


Acronyms Are The Mainstay of Government Programs

Because Medicare Part D’s sole function is a prescription drug plan, it goes by the acronym PDP. Medicare contracts with private insurance plans to provide the prescription drug (PDP) benefits.

If you are a person with a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage, it goes by the acronym MAPD. Regardless of which plan you own, there are costs you will have to pay. These costs include, but are not limited to, deductibles and co-pays plus Part D does not cover all medications.

If you have an MAPD, you have all of your insurance benefits in one policy. On the other hand, a person with just a PDP, may have one company for their Part A & Part B supplemental coverage while having another company provide their Part D coverage.

Who Provides What and Who Pays For It

Part A & Part B are provided by the federal government. Part C & Part D are provided by private insurance companies. Before a person can buy an MAPD, they must be enrolled in both Part A & Part B.

If a person misses their initial eligibility enrollment period, they will have to wait for what is called the open enrollment period. November 15 through December 31 of each year has been designated as the dates of the open enrollment period.

In addition, if a person misses their initial eligibility period and enrolls during the open enrollment period, a penalty in the form of higher premiums is assessed by Medicare against the individual. However, a person never has to enroll in Part D so the penalty could be moot for some people.

Part D also has an annual coverage limit. Once a person spends an amount that equals the annual coverage limit, they become subject to another deductible called a coverage gap. During this time period, the beneficiary pays all costs for drugs up to an annually set amount. This amount changes each year so pay attention to your plan.

Some Quick Final Thoughts

The good news is that once a person reaches this set amount, both generic and preferred drugs are available at set prices for the remainder of the year. The bad news is that when January 1st rolls around the next year, all of the deductibles and limits must be met again.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.

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Senior Outreach Ministries makes no warranty, representation, or guarantee regarding the information contained herein or the suitability of any products and/or services for any particular purpose. Any performance specifications are believed to be reliable but are not verified. Buyer must conduct and complete all performance and other testing of the products and/or services, alone and together with, or installed in, any end-products and/or services. Buyer shall not rely on any data and performance specifications or parameters provided by Senior Outreach Ministries. It is the Buyer’s responsibility to independently determine suitability of any products and/or services and to test and verify the same. Senior Outreach Ministries does not assume any liability whatsoever arising out of the application or use of any product or service. And in the name of full disclosure one should assume any ad they click on or purchase they make will provide us with a small fee. This is not added to the purchase price of any item or service you purchase. It is however one of the ways we fund the help we provide to seniors and their caregivers. Any recipients of our help as well as our staff thank you and appreciate you greatly.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act Primer

Federal Insurance Contributions Act

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act is also known as FICA. It is the federal law requiring employers to withhold three separate taxes from their employees wages:

https://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/research-topics/managing-your-taxes/payroll-taxes/what-compensation-is-taxable

https://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/research-topics/office-hr/employee-or-independent-contractor-feds-and-states-join-forces-to-fight-worker-misclassification

A large number of employees are not aware of this triple whammy tax:

  1. The 1st tax is the Social Security tax. In short, it is at a rate of 6.2%. And this portion is matched by your employer. Subsequently at the exact same 6.2 percent rate.
  2. The 2nd tax is a 1.45% Medicare tax sometimes called the “regular” Medicare tax.
  3. The 3rd tax is a Medicare surtax. The 0.9% rate applies when the employee earns over $200,000

The third tax went into effect in 2013. The employer is also taxed at a 1.45% Medicare tax rate. In conclusion, neither can escape the Medicare surtax.

And don’t worry, the government did not forget the self-employed. Firstly, they pay 12.4% for Social Security. And then secondly 2.9% for Medicare. The total equals 15.3%.

The law always provided a maximum amount of earnings on which the Social Security tax will be collected. In 2019 https://www.moneytalksnews.com/3-ways-social-security-will-change-in-2019/

Certainly Not A Silver Lining

The Social Security tax will be collected on earnings up to $132,900. Any earnings above and beyond that amount are not taxed. As far as Social Security taxes go.

Any and all questions about these taxes are answered on https://ssa.gov. As a result The Social Security Administration was kind enough to provide a philosophical way to look at FICA taxes:

“The money you pay in taxes is not held in a personal account for you. It is not used when you get benefits. Today’s workers help pay for current retirees’. As well as the benefits of other beneficiaries’. Any unused money goes to the Social Security trust funds to help secure today. As well as tomorrow for you and your family.”

It is always a wonderful feeling to know you are doing your part to help current retirees. And other beneficiaries receiving benefits from social security as well. That is to say The Federal Insurance Contributions Act offers both a sunshine glow and a warm fuzzy feeling.

Your Lifetime Earnings Record

Paying into Social Security creates a lifetime earnings record. According to SSA your lifetime earnings record is:

“a chronological history of the amount of money you earned each year during your working lifetime.”

Keeping track of what is in your record is your responsibility. Because The SSA said so. It’s critical to check the accuracy of your earnings record. So make you check it. And make sure you do this at least annually. Because certain errors will result in a smaller monthly benefit.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act has other moving parts. We will address the other moving parts in future articles.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability benefits are provided through two Social Security Administration programs. And the payments available to the disabled are paid monthly.

Social Security provides a downloadable pdf here:
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf. It is worth your time to at least read their book.

The application and consideration process is complicated. This article is not the complete answer. To make a good start you have to read the book. After that you need to seek help from knowledgeable and competent professionals.

Social Security disability benefits are available to people who become disabled before reaching age 65. And, above all, make sure you pay attention to their definition of disabled.

Here is how Social Security defines disabled:

*Social Security pays benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death.*

The definition is strict. Because federal law says it must be strict.

Social Security disability benefits are offered through two different programs. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). And the second one is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In short you must meet two different earnings tests to qualify for benefits:

  1. A recent work test, based on your age at the time you became disabled;
  2. A duration of work test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

SSDI and SSI are the same species. However, they are a different breed of animal. People who become sick or injured and can no longer work are SSDI candidates. And payments from your paycheck fund this program.

The social security disability benefit allows you to collect a check for as long as you are disabled. And you can collect until you reach retirement age and can claim regular retirement benefits.

Here’s What Makes Them Different

SSI differs because it’s for people who have a disability. Like being blind. And they also earn a limited income. People over the age of 65 may also apply for SSI. SSI recipients must have a low income. And have little or no valuable assets. This program is funded by general tax dollars.

Regardless of how the programs are funded they exist to help people. However, do not expect to get rich. They are meant to keep the disabled from being homeless and starving.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Applying for social security disability benefits is easy. Because were living in a technological age. Get online and visit: https://socialsecurity.gov or call the toll free number: 1-800-772-1213. The TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. Their office
hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

When you schedule your appointment the SSA sends you a kit. This kit will help you get ready for your disability claim interview. If you do not want to wait for the kit go to https://socialsecurity.gov/disability. You can download a copy.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.

A Social Security Tax Surprise

A Social Security Tax Surprise

A social security tax surprise are not the words a retiree or soon to be retiree wants to hear. Unfortunately, for all of us, this surprise is unavoidable.

People who have researched their social security benefits know their check could be taxed up to 85% of the benefit. Hidden in that tax scheme is the surprise.

Making matters unpalatable is the fact more than half of the people receiving benefits today pay the social security tax surprise. And, this is up from the 1 in 10 who paid the tax when benefits became taxable.

This statistic begs the question, how did we jump from 1 in 10 to 5 in 10? This because the government failed benefit recipients in a very crucial way.

The lawmakers failed to index social security benefits for inflation when they enacted the two tiered tax. This means the threshold numbers have remained the same since 1983 the year benefits became taxable.

You have just read a social security tax surprise. Are you surprised? Most people are very surprised.

Now, For Some Numbers

Those 1983 numbers will shock you given today’s cost of living. They are classified by how you file. And, there are only two filing categories, single or married.

Singles who make more than $25,000 and couples who report more than $32,000 can have up to 50% of their benefits taxed. The higher rates, up to 85%, kick in at $34,000 per year for singles and $44,000 for couples.

The two tax rates are not the surprise. The IRS makes those numbers known far and wide. It doesn’t do the same for the non-indexing for inflation faux pas.

If these threshold numbers had been indexed for inflation a social security tax surprise would not exist. The threshold for a single person would be $64,000 and a married couple would be at $82,000.

Pre-senes need to plan for this surprise. Already retired people can, of course, plan but they are already in the tax trap. The hole gets deeper when you turn 701/2.

Minimum mandatory withdrawal requirements kick in at 701/2. This means without careful planning you could be pushed into the 85% bracket when you start drawing from your 401k, IRA or other retirement account.

People not taking their required withdrawals not only face the surprise tax but steep penalties for not taking the withdrawals. This is a true triple whammy.

Quick, Taxing Thoughts

A social security tax surprise is definitely a retirement kick in the pants. All “WE” seniors are trying to do is file for the social security benefits we paid for.

However once you know about it you can prepare for it.

Rather than try to list all of the considerations the advice is to schedule an appointment with a SS rep at your local SS office. Or, in the alternative, visit https://ssa.gov and do an online search.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.

Claiming Social Security and Important Factors To Consider

Factors to Consider When Claiming Social Security

My personal factors to consider when claiming social security are different from yours. We both have factors peculiar to us. That makes sense and is intuitively obvious.

However out of the number of reasons on the menu there are several that are common to each of us. That’s only natural. The need for money for example is a common factor. Some of us may need it now while some of us can wait until we turn 70.

This article isn’t meant to be the end all be all for when claiming social security is right for you. The intent is to get your thinking process stirred up enough so you can make a plan that fits your situation.

It is obvious only you and your spouse, if you have one, know your situation better than anyone else. So it follows putting both heads together will probably yield the result you want or, at the least, is best under your particular circumstances.

One quick caveat would be is if you’re on Social Security Disability. In that case, you would automatically just rollover into regular Social Security upon turning 65. Not really any choice you can make.

Use the following questions as a starting point. Add to them if needed. Don’t be squeamish in your endeavor. It is your money you are considering.

Use These Questions to Help Figure it Out

If there are two of you one will probably outlive the other. Another commonality between us. Most people don’t like to even talk about that being the case. Mother Nature doesn’t talk about it either. She just makes it happen and leaves you to deal with it. So deal with it now.

Please don’t take anything I’ve said so far as a lecture. That isn’t my intent. I know I had to deal with it and I am tickled pink my wife and I sat down together and discussed our situation. In our case two heads were better than one. I was lucky and I want you to be, if not lucky, than informed.

These questions are general in nature. But, and this is a big but, they splash right into areas for which you you need to have serious answers. Here we go and, by the way, be honest to yourself when you answer the questions.

My initial thought on when to claim social security was:

Do You Need the Money Immediately?

To me, this is the most important reason to begin drawing SS at age 62. Nothing else really matters, right?

Like I said above it is your money. Spin this question as many ways as possible. If you come up with the same answer each time you have the right answer for you.

The second factor according to me is:

Are You in Good Health?

If you are in good health, the more advantageous it is to delay taking benefits. Advantageous means your monthly checks are higher. Claiming at age 70 gives you the highest payout.

Simply because 70 gives you the highest payout is not a reason unto itself to wait. I personally was in what I thought was great health. That changed when I had open heart surgery. Believe me when I say open heart surgery played a role in my decision.

The third factor to consider when claiming social security is:

Your Family History

Do you have a family history of people with unusually long lifespans or short lifespans? Short lifespans doesn’t necessarily mean you will die young but it is an indicator. Hence taking your monthly check beginning at age 62 might be the wise choice.

My wife’s family lives into their 80’s. My family lived to their 60’s. I’m in my 70’s. If I had relied only on family history I would have jumped on SS at 62. What’s your family history?

In this day and age taxes are a big factor, to me:

Tax Planning Reasons

is the fourth factor. Only you know your tax position and what would be the best answer for you.

Some people think their social security check is tax free. The real answer is a resounding maybe. The IRS in their empathy for the taxpayer has made SS almost tax free. The guiding light determining taxability is the amount of money coming into your house.

This article is not a financial planning nor tax planning article. You have a tax preparer who can answer those questions. Always consult with that person to learn the latest IRS rules.


Married individuals have additional considerations. The top 4 are a good starting point but survivorship, working spouses and age of spouse must also be considered.

Some Final Thoughts on Claiming Social Security

This isn’t the only article about considerations for taking social security. The Internet is full of them. However, the fact remains the first and best authority on when to take social security is you. Only you know your situation. That’s important.

I did not try to list all of the factors when claiming social security. If you have questions or want answers straight from the horse’s mouth schedule an appointment with a SS rep at your local SS office. In the alternative you can start the process by visiting https://ssa.gov. Their information is up to date.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.

An Important Social Security Factoid

An Important Social Security Factoid

The important social security factoid is: Actuarially Neutral (AN).

I can hear you asking, “What in the world is actuarially neutral ?” Good question. Let me answer it.

All AN boils down to is the simple fact the program is indifferent to whether people tend to claim benefits before full retirement age or after full retirement age. So, you see, on average the increase people receive from claiming later should be roughly offset by the fact they’ll receive fewer monthly payments.

An Important Social Security Factoid, Claiming Social Security

Stated another way, if a senior citizen starts his SS monthly check when he is 62 he is 8 years ahead of the person who starts at age 70. He will get less in his monthly check than if he waits until he turns 70. Because, actuarially speaking, he starts drawing his checks earlier. I bet you can guess what that means. You guessed right, it means a lower amount.

No One Alive Knows That

Obviously the kicker in this scheme is nobody knows when they will die. The person taking his monthly check could outlive the person waiting till 70. So, the larger check at 70 won’t mean a thing in the overall picture.

The government bean counters wanted to be certain everyone would receive as close to the same amount as possible over their lifetime. Hence they created a sliding scale with the first eligible age to collect being 62.

If both parties live to be 80 years old, AN tells us both would have received the same amount over the number of years they collected their Social Security. Of course the numbers will be slightly different based on income factors. But, in theory they will be close.

This isn’t a tome on factors to consider in enrolling into the social security program. It’s merely a brief explanation on the underlying thought/principle that went into constructing the payout schedule. For more factors you may also want to read: Factors to Consider When Claiming Social Security.



Senior Outreach Ministries achieves it’s objectives with the capital we’ve either earned or received from donors. The Proud 2 B A Senior Ribbon for example. Donate $5, get a ribbon and help us help a hungry Senior Citizen in need. All proceeds remain in the Ministries to be used per our mission statement. We are a volunteer church. No one receives a salary or wage. Please help us help less fortunate hungry Seniors. We never have and never will ask the government for grants, funds or hand outs. Thank You in advance.