Crisis brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Scammers are working overtime preying on
people's very real uncertainty and anxiety. Federal agencies are sounding alarms about Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries in particular, since
this population is often more vulnerable to fraud. Here are some of the most common scams, and what your clients need to know.
The Inspector General of Social Security is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security
benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not suspend or discontinue benefits
because their offices are closed. Scammers may mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards,
wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.
Tell your clients to ignore these letters, phone calls, or emails, and instead to call the main SSA number—1 (800) 772-1213.
Remember, Social Security will never:
- Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee;
- promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
- require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card;
- demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem; or
- send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.
You can find the full SSA announcement here. Also, Social
Security recipients will automatically receive the CARES Ac stimulus check, as noted in Tuesday’s blog post. Ignore anyone who offers to “help” them claim it.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) say, “As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for
errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!” In general, Medicare covers all COVID-related care:
- Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged
from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
- At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug
Plans (Part D).
- If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many
plans offer additional telehealth benefits. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
Find updates on the Medicare coronavirus page.