What is the Meaning of the Letters After Your Medicare Number?
Your Medicare card is a valuable resource, and for the most part it is straightforward and easy to understand.
Some Medicare recipients, however, are confused about letter coding appearing at the end of a Medicare number, or Medicare Claim Number, which is located on the front of every Medicare card right under the name of the beneficiary.
Most people will recognize the numerical part of their Medicare number immediately. The first nine digits of a Medicare Claim Number should match the nine digits of the cardholder’s Social Security Number or, often, the nine digits of the cardholder’s spouse’s, parent’s, or child’s Social Security Number.
Whether the nine digits of your Medicare number match your Social Security Number or another person’s Social Security Number depends on the nature of your eligibility for Medicare—which is reflected in the letter code immediately following the numerical portion of your Medicare number.
In all, there are 12 letters that may follow the numerical part of a Medicare Claim Number. Another number can follow most of those 12 Medicare number suffix letters.
Besides the letter A, which indicates you are a primary claimant who has paid into the Medicare system as a wage earner, there are 33 other common codes that appear at the end of Medicare Claim Numbers to identify the nature of eligibility. There are also many less common codes, a list of which can be found in Section 50.3 of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publication on Medicare General Information, Eligibility, and Entitlement.
Note that if the letter A, B, C, or D follows the numerical part of your Medicare number, this has nothing to do with enrollment in Medicare Part A, B, C, or D. The front of your Medicare card indicates whether you are enrolled in Part A and/or Part B under the heading “IS ENTITLED TO.” If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, that information appears on a separate card and not on your Medicare card. The letter A, B, C, or D following the numerical part of your Medicare number does not refer in any way to Medicare Part A, B, C, or D.
Following are descriptions of what the primary letter codes in all Medicare Claim Numbers indicate.
“A” at the end of your Medicare number indicates you are a retired wage earner and primary claimant. The numerical part of your Medicare number matches your Social Security Number.
“B” by itself means you are the wife of the primary claimant, and are at least 62 years old. Other Medicare suffixes in the “B” category include:
- B1 for the husband (62 years or older) of a primary claimant
- B2 for a young wife with a child in her care
- B3 for a second wife aged 62 or older
- B4 for a second husband
If your suffix code is one of the above or any other code in the “B” category, your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s Social Security Number, and not your own, represents the first nine numbers of your Medicare Claim Number.
“C” indicates you are the child of a primary claimant. Numerical suffixes following “C” indicate which child you are in relation to the primary claimant. For example, if you are the first child, your suffix is C1; if you are the second child, your suffix is C2; and so on. If your suffix code is in the “C” category, your primary claimant parent’s Social Security Number represents the first nine numbers of your Medicare Claim Number.
“D” by itself indicates you are the widow of a primary claimant.
Other Medicare suffixes in the “D” category include:
- D1 for the widower of a primary claimant
- D2 for the second widow of a primary claimant
- D3 for the second widower
- D4 for certain remarried widows
- D5 for the certain remarried widowers
- D16 and D7 for certain surviving divorced wives
“E” by itself indicates you are the widowed mother of a primary claimant. Other suffixes in the “E” category include E1 for the surviving divorced mother of a primary claimant; E2 for the second widowed mother of a primary claimant; E3 for the second divorced mother of the primary claimant; E4 for the primary claimant’s widowed father; and E5 for the primary claimant’s surviving divorced father.
“F” is the parent category, with suffixes for a primary claimant’s father (F1), mother (F2), stepfather (F3), stepmother (F4), adoptive father (F5), and adoptive mother (F6). There is no “F” suffix without a number following the letter F.
“H” indicates Medicare eligibility is due to disability. HA means you are a disabled claimant, HB means you are the wife of a disabled claimant, and HC means you are the child of a disabled claimant. If your Medicare number includes the HA code, your Social Security appears in your Medicare number. If your Medicare number includes the HB or HC code, your disabled spouse’s or parent’s Social Security number represents the first nine digits of your Medicare number.
Code J and Code K
If your Medicare number includes one of these codes, you are a “special beneficiary.” Medicare entitlement under Code J or Code K depends on your work history, and specifically on the number of quarters of employment that have been reported to Social Security. A suffix of JI, J2, K1, or K2 indicates you are entitled to Medicare Part A. A J3, J4, K3, or K4 suffix, meanwhile, indicates you are able to purchase Medicare Part A coverage.
“M” by itself indicates you are enrolled in Medicare Part B but are not eligible for Medicare Part A. To receive Part A coverage you must purchase it. M1 indicates you are enrolled in Part B and are also eligible for coverage under Medicare Part A but have refused Part A coverage.
“T” may indicate that you are eligible for Medicare Part A benefits but are not eligible for retirement benefits. It may also indicate that your Medicare eligibility is due to chronic kidney disease. TA, meanwhile, indicates your Medicare eligibility is due to Medicare Qualified Government Employment (MQGE), and TB indicates you are the spouse of a Medicare Qualified Government Employee.
“W” by itself indicates you are the disabled widow of a primary claimant. Other Medicare suffixes in the “W” category include:
- W1 for a primary claimant’s disabled widower
- W2 for a second widow
- W3 for a second widower
- W6 for a surviving disabled second wife
For further information about Medicare letter codes and other Medicare symbols, you can contact the Medicare Administration toll-free at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4277). For information about Medicare supplement insurance, Medicare Advantage, and all your best healthcare options, contact MedicareMall today!
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