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Can Medicare Help You Lose Weight?

Plus, can you collect Social Security when you're working full time?

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Q. I'm worried about heart disease and diabetes. Can Medicare help me lose weight?

A. Yes, if you are officially obese — with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Use an online BMI calculator or ask your doctor for your BMI number. Medicare will pay for one counseling session a week for the first month, and five more monthly sessions. If you've lost at least 6.6 pounds by the end of the sixth month, you can get six more monthly sessions. Otherwise, you must wait six months before Medicare will cover another weight-loss attempt. Sessions are covered under Medicare Part B, with no copayment or deductible if they're conducted by a qualified practitioner in a primary care setting. Doctors use the code GO447 to bill Medicare for the service.

Q. I'll be 66 soon, my full retirement age, and will apply for my Social Security benefits. I work full time now and want to keep working until I'm 70. At 66, can I draw Social Security and still work full time without giving back any of my benefits?

A. Yes, you can. There is a Social Security earnings limit: In 2012, after an individual earns more than $14,640 a year, Social Security begins to withhold some of his or her benefits. However, the Social Security earnings limit applies only to workers receiving benefits who are between ages 62 and full retirement age. Once you turn 66, the earnings limit goes away and you are free to earn as much as you like — without penalty.

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