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No refunds for '89 catastrophic care premiums

Question: Will the catastrophic basic premium of $4 monthly, which was deducted from our Social Security checks in the entire year of 1989, be refunded to us? _ H.

J. Answer: No. The money Medicare enrollees paid into the basic premium in 1989 is not refundable. (The money is needed to pay benefits provided in 1989.) The excess of $5.30 monthly basic premium money that is collected in 1990 will be returned.

How benefits are figured

Question: I plan to apply for retirement benefits next year. How will Social Security determine my benefit amount? _ E.


Answer: Social Security bases the benefit amount on a worker's earnings from 1951, or the year an individual attains age 22, whichever comes first, up to the year of retirement.

Usually the five years of lowest earnings are eliminated.

The earnings are adjusted for changes in earnings over the years.

The adjusted earnings will be averaged together and a mathematical formula will be used to arrive at the primary insurance amount.

Questions can be mailed to: Harvey Gardner c/o the St. Petersburg Times, 9380 Sunrise Lakes Blvd., Sunrise, Fla. 33322.

Matters of general interest will be answered in this column; Gardner does not make individual replies.