Ask Phil

Since the initial Get What’s Yours book was published in 2015, answering reader questions has become my major day job. At first, the questions were exclusively about Social Security. Topics broadened into aging and retirement after the “Ask Phil” column began appearing on the PBS website, “Making Sen$e.” When Get What’s Yours for Medicare was published in 2016, its complexity and confusion generated still more queries. And yet a new vein of questions was mined when Get What’s Yours for Health Care was published in early 2021.

You can review the links listed here to a Q&A archive of the most common “Ask Phil” topics, which I try to update as needed. If you’re looking for something else, use the adjacent search bar. It will trigger a scan of all Ask Phil content. The results page will include links to articles I wrote from 2008 to 2018 for U.S. New & World Report, Money magazine, and PBS. You’ll also see a link to my Get What’s Yours newslettter on Substack.

If you need additional information, I’m here to answer your questions. And if you encounter something you think is wrong, please let me know. Infallibility is not part of my job description! These are complex and ever-changing topics. Web links and program rules change. Your help is central to keeping “Ask Phil” accurate and up to date.




Phil’s Medicare Weblinks

2024 Part B Premium up 6% to $174.70

Accountable Care Organizations May Dominate Original Medicare

Making the transition from employer insurance to Medicare

Select Medicare coverage for the “future” you

Social Security’s role in Medicare

Medicare’s low-income support programs

Medicare does not require prepayment

Withholding payments for Medicare Part A and Part B

When it makes sense to decline Part A of Medicare

The benefits of Part A of Medicare

Non-working spouses and Part A of Medicare

Medicare costs for divorced spouses who never worked

Medicare Part B drug coverage

Do you need a Part D drug plan?

COBRA limitations and Medicare

Medicare and out-of-state care

Understanding Medicare’s impact on health savings accounts

When it makes sense to decline Part A of Medicare

Concierge health practices and Medicare

Outside the U.S.

Medicare coverage outside the United States

Medicare decisions for ex-pats

Medicare enrollment for ex-pats still working


It’s Getting Easier to Open Medicare Enrollment Windows

Medicare Part D 2024 drug plan rules

Basics of Medicare annual open enrollment

Penalties, Surcharges

Medicare late enrollment penalties

Medicare’s high-income surcharges – called IRMAA, for short


Dental Benefits Expanding in Original Medicare

Who oversees Medicare medical equipment benefits?

Medicare coverage of at-home care

Medicare rules involving kidney failure

Workplace Issues

Employee health insurance and Medicare choices at age 65

Medicare secondary coverage of high-deductible, employer health plans

Should disabled Americans drop Medicare for employer insurance?

Medicare Advantage

The difference between Medicare and Medicare Advantage

Changing Medicare Advantage plans when you move

Medigap Supplement Policies

How Medigap works

Understanding different Medigap underwriting approaches

Federal Plans

Federal Health Employee Benefits (FEHB) versus Medicare

Medicare choices for vets with VA coverage who turn 65

The basics of TRICARE military insurance

Social Security

Phil’s Social Security Weblinks

2024 Social Security Benefits Rise 3.2%

The impact on retirement benefits of different Social Security claiming ages

Social Security spousal benefits

Rules for Social Security survivor benefits

Readers ask about Social Security survivor benefits

Social Security rules for ex-spousal benefits

Social Security ex-spousal survivor benefits 

Supplemental Security Income and Social Security benefits

Children’s Social Security benefits

Social Security rules for family maximum benefits

Social Security disability benefits

Social Security earnings test

Social Security income may affect Medicaid eligibility

Social Security WEP and GPO rules

Social Security’s “hold harmless” rule

Social Security benefits based on top 35 years of work earnings

Related Topics

What does successful aging look like to you?

Research about strategies for successful aging

Planning for frailty and future health needs

10 questions to ask before hiring an elder care attorney

Health care is moving into your home

Why Medicare needs to be fixed before it works ‘for All’

Learn how to talk to your health insurer