Federal agencies this week will be getting copies of a seven-page fact sheet explaining Medicare coverage for government employes and their families.
Starting next month, federal and postal workers will pay the Medicare portion of the Social Security tax. It is 1.3 percent of salary on amounts up to $35,700. The Medicare tax will be deducted automatically from paychecks of feds, who already contribute 7 percent of gross salary into their retirement fund, which is outside of Social Security.
The federal Health Care Financing Administration has ruled that any federal employe "who is in an employer-employe relationship with a federal agency at any time during January 1983 and was employed before Jan. 1, 1983 will receive deemed 'federal quarters of coverage' for his or her federal service prior to January 1983." What that means is that U.S. civil servants, and in many cases family members, can count federal service time to qualify for the government hospital insurance program at age 65 even if they are on the federal payroll only one day in January and paid no Medicare taxes before that.
Most Americans must pay the full Social Security and Medicare tax for at least eight years to qualify for Medicare benefits.
But when it voted to require feds to pay Medicare, Congress said that civil servants would be able to count their federal service time (even though they paid no Social Security taxes) toward Medicare eligibility, provided they worked a short period of time in January, after the Medicare tax becomes effective for government workers.
Family members of federal employes may also be covered for Medicare, even though the employe did not pay the Medicare tax until January 1983. This is the complicated, official language used by HCFA:
"Family members of a federal employe who would be insured for Medicare using only federal quarters of coverage earned after December 1982 and Social Security quarters of coverage can have Medicare based on the employe's record if the family member meets the regular requirements for Medicare--age 65, disability (widow, widower, disabled adult child) or end stage renal disease.