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Federal Appeals Court Rules Retirees Cannot Dodge Medicare Eligibility

A federal appeals court has ruled that those over age 65 and eligible for Social Security cannot escape their automatic entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits unless they repay all the Social Security funds paid to them.

Three retired federal workers who have reached age 65 and are receiving Social Security sued because they want to disclaim their legal entitlement to Medicare Part A coverage, which pays for care in institutions like hospitals. They want to disclaim the entitlement because their private insurance plans limit coverage for those who can get coverage from Medicare. The retirees claim they would get superior coverage from their private insurers.

A U.S. district court judge ruled against the federal workers, and they appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that while the retirees have the right to refuse Medicare payment for services, they remain legally entitled to them because they signed up for Social Security. The judges in the majority pointed out that while entitlement to Social Security is optional because an application must be filed in order to receive the program’s benefit, no such application is required for Medicare Part A.

Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.