Q: How do you redeem Series I bonds purchased electronically?
A: If you bought the I bonds through TreasuryDirect.gov, you can log in to your TreasuryDirect account and use the link for redeeming securities in ManageDirect. The cash amount can be credited to your checking or savings account.
If you have paper bonds, find out if your bank or credit union will cash the bonds. Some financial institutions only cash savings bonds for customers who have had an account for at least six months (or may only cash up to $1,000 in savings bonds for non-customers). Or you can mail the bonds to the U.S. Treasury. See "Cashing Paper Savings Bonds" at TreasuryDirect.gov for more information about the procedure.
Q: How can I pay Medicare premiums if I'm not receiving Social Security benefits yet? Can I have the bill paid automatically from my bank account?
A: There are several ways to pay your Medicare premiums if you aren't receiving Social Security benefits. You can sign up for Medicare Easy Pay, a free service through Medicare that deducts your premiums from a savings or checking account each month, usually on the 20th of the month. To sign up, submit Form SF-5510, "Authorization Agreement for Preauthorized Payments," with your Medicare number, bank account number and bank routing number.
You also can receive a bill and send a check each month, or you can have the bill paid through your bank's online bill pay service. For more information about your options, see "Pay Part A and Part B Premiums" at Medicare.gov.
Q: I sold a lot of investments for a profit in 2017 and have to pay the Medicare high-income surcharge. Can I ask to have the surcharge reduced because my income has dropped since then?
A: The Medicare high-income surcharge is based on your last tax return on file, which is 2017 income for 2019 premiums. If your adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest income for the year is more than $85,000 if single or $170,000 if married filing jointly, then you have to pay a high-income surcharge, which boosts your premiums from the standard $135.50 to a range of $189.60 to $460.50.
If your income has dropped since 2017 because of certain life-changing events, however, you can ask the Social Security Administration to use your more-recent income when setting your premiums. Eligible events include marriage, divorce, death of a spouse and retirement. Selling investments for a profit, however, doesn't qualify.
The high-income surcharge is calculated every year, though. So if your income decreased in 2018, your premiums should go down in 2020. For more information, read "Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries" at www.socialsecurity.gov.