Social Security and You: Explaining Medicare Card Codes | Business News

Q: My wife and I are both on Social Security and Medicare. Her Medicare card has my Social Security number with a “B” after it. When I die, I know she will get widow’s benefits. But will she continue to get Medicare on my record?

A: Yes, she will continue to get Medicare on your record. The only thing that will change is that she will get a new Medicare card, still with your Social Security number, but this time with a letter “D” behind it.

The Medicare people simply use the Social Security claim number as your Medicare number. Currently, your wife is claiming benefits on your account. “B” is the symbol the Social Security Administration uses to denote wife’s benefits. When you die, your wife will be claiming widow’s benefits on your record. And “D” is the symbol SSA uses for widow’s benefits.

Q: Can you explain the little letter symbols the Medicare people use on our Medicare cards?

A: I put your question here on purpose because it nicely dovetails into what I wrote in the last answer.

As I said, your Medicare number simply mirrors your Social Security claim number. And the little letter symbols behind the SSN signify various kinds of Social Security benefits. SSA calls them BICs. That stands for beneficiary identification codes. They run from A to W. And many of them have subsets, like B2 and C3, etc. So I simply don’t have the space to get into all of them.

I will just give the most common ones.

• A: retirement benefits.

• B: wife’s benefits.

• B6: divorced wife’s benefits.

• C: child’s benefits.

• D: widow’s benefits.

• D6: divorced widow’s benefits.

• E: mother’s benefits (widows under age 60 with minor children).

Q: I am 67 and getting widow’s benefits from Social Security. My own retirement benefit was small — only $455 per month. My widow’s rate is $2,175. In a prior column, you told a…

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