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5 Common Social Security and Medicare Questions Answered

AARP Financial Ambassador Jean Chatzky on getting the most out of your benefits

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The rules and requirements for Social Security and Medicare benefits can seem overwhelming to navigate. Over her years covering the world of money, Jean Chatzky, AARP financial ambassador, has fielded many questions from older Americans looking to make the most of these crucial programs.

In this video series, Jean addresses the five most common questions she gets on Social Security and Medicare, offering her expert opinion and useful tips on benefits for survivors, stay-at-home spouses and divorced people, and how health and income can affect your benefit options.

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VIDEO: Can you get survivor benefits if a spouse dies young?

Dealing with a spouse’s sudden death can be a financial as well as an emotional blow. Can you receive Social Security survivor benefits if your partner died before claiming their own retirement benefit?

VIDEO: Can you get benefits if you were a stay-at-home parent?

Social Security retirement benefits are based on lifetime earnings from work — but what if you had little or no income because you focused on child care? Jean explains how spousal benefits can boost family finances.

VIDEO: Can you get spousal benefits if you’re divorced?

What happens to your options for spousal benefits if you’re no longer a spouse? Jean lays out the basics on when divorced people can, and can’t, collect benefits on a former partner’s earnings record.

VIDEO: Should you start Social Security early if you’re facing medical issues?

Waiting to claim benefits until at least full retirement age is generally a good rule of thumb because your payments will be larger. But when it comes to health issues, everyone’s situation is different.

VIDEO: Could a part-time job affect your Medicare premiums?

Jean goes over how income from work, investments and other sources can change what you pay each month for Medicare Part B coverage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

Sandy Petrykowski is an award-winning writer, producer and director. She has produced news and documentaries around the world and has worked with PBS, ABC News, National Geographic, CNN and NPR.


Andy Markowitz covers Social Security and retirement for AARP. He is a former editor of the Prague Post and Baltimore City Paper.

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