National Asian Pacific Center on Aging


NAPCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of AANHPI older adults and their families. We operate a NAPCA Senior Assistance Center for Older Adults and Caregivers and are available in 5 different languages. In this column, we want to share some of the important questions we received from readers. Hope you will find them useful.

Q&A #1
What kinds of social security benefits can I have at age62? How are they compared with ones at age 65?

You can start collecting Social Security retirement benefit early when you reach age 62. The monthly insurance amount would be reduced 8% per year if you start receiving benefit earlier than your full retirement age. However, you would get 100% of your retirement benefit when you reach your full retirement age and the amount would increase by the same rate each year beyond your FRA until you turn70.

Q&A #2
I am going to apply for Social Security retirement benefit when I reach my full retirement age. I am a US citizen and already have 40 working credits. My wife is still a green card holder and has never worked in the US. Is she eligible for any benefits under my retirement even though she’s not a citizen?

She does not need to be a US citizen to receive benefits. Permanent legal residents are eligible for Social Security Retirement if they are 62 or older and they have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years or 40 quarters.
But since she hasn’t worked, your wife can receive Spousal Social Security benefits up to 50% of your benefit. After you begin to receive your Social Security Retirement, she will become eligible for benefits when she turns 62 years old. However, if she can wait until her Full Retirement age, her monthly benefit will be higher.

Q&A #3
What is Medicare and who can get it?

Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Medicare helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.
Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B.
Part A is Hospital insurance that helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or limited time at a skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), and some home health care and hospice care.
Part B is Medical insurance that helps pay for doctors’ services and many other medical services and supplies that the hospital insurance does not cover.
Other parts of Medicare are Part C and Part D.
Part C is known as Medicare Advantage plans and offered by private companies and approved by Medicare. Many Advantage plans include drug coverage and additional benefits.
Part D is Prescription drug coverage helps pay for prescribed medications.

Q&A #4
I am now 65 years old and have no working quarter credits. However, my wife has 40 credits and she will apply for early retirement when turning 62 next year. Can I apply for Medicare Part A now? Is it free?

Depending on your residency/citizenship status, and which state you live in; you may be eligible for low cost or free Part A as of right now. Or you can wait until your wife turns 62 to get Part A for free. Please contact us if you would like us to help you.

Q&A #5
What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare and Medicaid are both government health care programs, but they are very different. Medicare is generally for people who are 65 or older, or who have a qualified disability. Medicaid is a state-governed program for people with limited income and resources. For example, you are over 65, married, and living in CA. Your husband and your monthly income is below $2106 and your assets are below the state’s standard, you would be eligible for Medicaid for elders in CA.
Some people are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These people are considered “dual eligible” and are often qualified for special Medicare plans.

If you have additional questions regarding the above, or around the topics of Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act or others, there are three ways you can reach us. We will answer all of your questions in a timely manner.

Call our Senior Assistance Center at: 1-800-336-2772
Mail: NAPCA Senior Assistance Center, 1511 Third Avenue, Suite 914, Seattle, WA 98101