As a resident of Rhode Island, I have been in a “domestic partnership” for ten years. To achieve this status, we successfully completed the state’s affidavit process, which included providing a number of legal documents. Once our partnership became official, according to the General Laws of the state (Section 36-12-1), each of us became considered a dependent under the other’s health insurance plan, depending on who was working full-time.
Approaching the age of 65, I filed for Medicare Part A, a hospitalization benefit. I chose to decline Medicare Part B or doctor visits, at a cost of $99 a month, as I am already fully covered under my partner’s health insurance plan. My partner plans to work another seven years.
However, I have a problem and that is the Social Security Administration (SSA) will penalize me for my delayed enrollment. Unless I enroll in Medicare Part B within the next few months, future enrollment would mean paying an additional $10 a month for each month of delay, or about $120 a year. Thus, if I wait until my partner retires in seven years, I will pay an additional $70 each month or $840 a year.
The other penalty is that I will not be able to enroll during the “special enrollment” period, but only in the “general enrollment” period of January through March of any given year.
The decision is obvious: I am not going to purchase something I do not need. However, the fact that the federal government does not recognize domestic partnership in the state of Rhode Island, inclusive of health insurance, is troubling. I realize that the federal laws regarding domestic partnership are under review, but I will be appealing to the Woonsocket Office of SSA in protest of this inequitable treatment regarding my Social Security benefits.