When Should I Enroll
There is a seven-month period when you can first enroll in Medicare. Its called the Initial Enrollment Period and it happens three months before the month you turn age 65, the month of your 65th birthday and the three months after. If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, your coverage can begin on the first day of the previous month.
If you are disabled and under age 65, there is a seven-month period surrounding the 25th month you begin receiving Social Security Disability payments. Enrollment time frames are different for people who become eligible because of end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrigs Disease .
General Enrolment Period For Seniors For Medicare
If you miss your Initial Enrolment Period, Medicare offers a General Enrolment Period where new clients can sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B or existing clients can make changes to their plan without facing a penalty. The General Enrolment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 of every year.
You may be eligible to sign up for Medicare during this period if:
- You do not qualify for a Special Enrolment Period
- You did not sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrolment Period
If you sign up during the General Enrolment Period, you will be responsible for paying a premium for Medicare Part A and/or Part B. Coverage will begin around July 1 and there may be a higher premium for signing up during this time.
When Your Coverage Starts
The date your coverage starts depends on which month you sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period. Coverage always starts on the first of the month.
If you qualify for Premium-free Part A: Your Part A coverage starts the month you turn 65.
Part B : Coverage starts based on the month you sign up:
If you sign up:
1 month after you turn 65
2 months after you sign up
2 or 3 months after you turn 65
3 months after you sign up
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Things You Must Do As Soon As You Turn 65
Your 65th birthday is considered a milestone for severalreasons. Not only was it once considered standard retirement age , but its the year you can start cashing in on all thosesenior discounts.
Turning 65 isnt entirely pleasant there are definitelysome medical conditions and things happening to your body youll want to beaware of. But as long as you prepare properly, youll be able to handlewhatever comes your way. These are 12 of the things you need to do as soon asyou turn 65 years young.
1. Familiarize yourself with Medicare .
For most people, turning 65 means youre eligible forOriginal Medicare, Part A and Part B. You can also choose to enroll in MedicarePart C, or Medicare Advantage. If you arent retiring, youll need to visit theSocial Security website and manually sign up for it yourself.
Being new to Medicare can be a bit overwhelming, especiallywhen you learn you could see a gap in medical coverage or face a fine. TheMedicare website offers some helpful information, but if youre still confused,talk to your current insurance agent or employer to help you find someone thatcan better assist you.
2. Decide if youll retire or keep working
3. Learn the term Medigap
Medigap supplemental insurance policies are sold by privateinsurance companies to fill some of the gaps in expenses that standard Medicarewont cover. If youll no longer have employee-sponsored healthcare, youlldefinitely want to look into getting one.
5. Plan your social security benefits claim
When Do I Apply For Medicare If Im Still Working At 65
What if youre still working when you hit 65? If you qualify for Medicare, but youre not getting Social Security benefits yet, you usually dont get enrolled automatically in Medicare.
Some people decide to:
- Enroll in Medicare Part A as soon as theyre eligible. Even if your employer plan has hospital coverage, Part A is premium-free for most people. If your employer plan has hospital coverage, and you have a hospital stay, your plan and Medicare Part A will coordinate benefits to work out payment of your hospital costs.
- Delay enrollment in Medicare Part B. Theres typically a monthly Part B premium, and if youre covered by an employer plan for now, you may be able to save money by delaying enrollment in Part B.
But youll want to make sure you sign up for Medicare Part B when your employer-based coverage ends. Theres a Part B late enrollment penalty, but you can generally avoid it if you sign up for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period when your other coverage stops.
Its important to be sure about what youre doing so that you can avoid Medicare late enrollment penalties. Contact your employer- or union-based health plan administrator with any questions you have to help ensure a smooth transition to Medicare coverage.
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When Will You Get Your Medicare Card
Your Medicare card will arrive in your Welcome to Medicare packet. Once youve submitted your application, the packet will arrive about two weeks after youve been approved.12
If youre already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, expect the packet to arrive about three months before you turn 65.
Enrollment In A Medicare Supplement Plan
There are different rules for enrolling in a supplemental insurance plan, also known as Medigap.
According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the best time to buy a Medigap policy is the first six months after the month you turn 65.
For example, if you turn 65 in June and enroll in Part B the same month, you should buy a Medigap policy between June and November.
You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B to sign up for a Medigap policy.
After this six-month window, your Medigap options may be limited and policies may cost more.
Keep in mind that some states may have additional Medigap policy open enrollment periods.
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Do I Need To Get Medicare Drug Coverage
You can get Medicare drug coverage once you sign up for either Part A or Part B. You can join a Medicare drug plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage anytime while you have job-based health insurance, and up to 2 months after you lose that insurance.
Even if you have a Special Enrollment Period to join a plan after you first get Medicare, you might have to pay the Part D late enrollment penalty. To avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty, dont go 63 days or more in a row without Medicare drug coverage or other .
If you have other drug coverage: Ask your drug plan if its creditable drug coverage.
Each year, your plan must tell you if your non-Medicare drug coverage is creditable coverage. Keep this information you may need it when youre ready to join a Medicare drug plan.
When Should You Apply For Medicare
In most cases, you should apply for Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. The initial enrollment period starts three months before the month you turn 65, includes your birth month, and extends three months past the month you turn 65, giving you a seven-month window to apply. Your Part B coverage will likely be delayed if you enroll the month you turn 65 , so apply early to avoid a gap in coverage.
Medicare imposes a hefty late enrollment penalty if you enroll in Part B or D after the initial enrollment period and don’t qualify for a special enrollment period .You might qualify for a SEP if you have coverage, including creditable drug coverage from an employer or a union . Medicare does not charge a late enrollment penalty for enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Supplement plan after IEP. But it’s best to apply for Medigap as soon as you’re eligibleif you apply within the first six months of having Part B coverage, you can’t be denied a Medigap policy or be required to pay more because of health conditions. Here’s how enrollment works depending on whether or not you already receive Social Security benefits.
If you already receive Social Security benefits:
You should also check out the Medicare Enrollment Booklet which contains clear, concise information about both Medicare Part A and Part B.
If you are not yet receiving Social Security benefits:
When to get prescription drug coverage:
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When Can You Sign Up For Medicare Advantage Or Part D
If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan an alternative to Original Medicare that is administered by private companies you must sign up on your own.
The same applies for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
When You Can Sign Up for Medicare Advantage or Part D
- Youre Turning 65
- You can enroll during the seven-month window that begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month and extends three months after that. If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during this time, you can drop it at any point during the following 12 months and return to Original Medicare.
- You Have a Disability and Are Under 65
- Your Medicare coverage begins 24 months after you first start receiving Social Security disability benefits or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits. Your sign-up time extends through the 28th month after you first begin receiving disability benefits.
- You Have a Disability and You Turn 65
- During this time, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. If you already have a Part C or Part D plan, you can switch to a different one. You have a seven-month period to do so. It begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month and extends three months after that.
Record Details About Medicare Information
If a government official gives you incorrect information that causes you to miss your initial enrollment period, then you may not have to pay the entire penalty. However, you have to be able to prove that the government official gave you incorrect information.
Remember to take details about who you spoke to, the date and time, what they said, their contact information and any other pertinent information. You should do this every time you speak with someone in the government about Medicare.
For additional information about Medicare, you can contact:
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Medicaid Or Medicare Savings Programs
Medicare beneficiaries with limited income or very high medical costs may be eligible to receive assistance from the Medicaid program. There are also Medicare Savings Programs for other limited-income beneficiaries that may help pay for Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. There are specified income and resources limits for both programs. Contact your local county Department of Social Services or SHIIP to apply for one of these programs.
What Are The Two Enrollment Methods
If youre already getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you dont need to enroll in Medicare. Youll automatically get Original Medicare as of the first day of the month you turn 65.
Those who are automatically enrolled will receive a Welcome to Medicare packet, which will include your Medicare card, three months before turning 65.
If you want a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy.
If you decide you dont want Part B, you must return the Medicare card. If you keep the card, you keep Part B coverage and you will be charged the monthly premium.
Note that if you live in Puerto Rico, you will only receive Medicare Part A automatically. You need to call Social Security at 772-1213 or TTY 325-0778 to apply for Part B if you want it.
You will not get Medicare automatically if you are not already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, even if youre close to age 65. You need to apply for Part A and Part B if you want them using one of the methods mentioned here, even if youre eligible for premium-free Part A.
The government expects you to know when to enroll. Be sure to apply for Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period unless you have current employment-based insurance coverage elsewhere. If you dont apply and sign up later, you will have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty for as long as youre enrolled in Part B.
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How To Sign Up For Medicare
You sign up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B through the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board .
- If you arent yet getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, you need to apply for Medicare.
- If you already get Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, the SSA or RRB will automatically sign you up for Medicare Part A and B so its effective the month of your 65th birthday.
Applying For Medicare At Age 65
If you are eligible for Medicare, there is a 7-month enrolment period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. Youll qualify for Medicare at age 65 if:
- You are a citizen of the United States or a legal resident living in the United States for a minimum of 5 years at the time of the window of this 7 year period.
- You or your spouse has worked long enough to qualify for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits .
- You or your spouse is a government employee or retiree who has not paid into Social Security but paid Medicare payroll taxes while employed in that position.
The Initial Enrolment Period begins 3 months before you turn 65, includes your birthday month, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
For example, if you turn 65 on May 1, your IEP will begin on February 1 with an end date of May 31 for a total of 7 months. The total window is 7 months long, but that doesnt mean you should apply 7 months before your 65th birthday! Remember, take your birth month and could that as one month, and then the window is 3 months before that birth month, and 3 months after that birth month.
Note: If you are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. You should receive your Original Medicare package and Medicare card around 30 days before your 65th birthday. Make sure that your address and everything on file is up to date!
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What Are Important Medicare Decisions
Applying for Medicare Parts A and B is the first step. Other decisions related to Original Medicare can be made in the same timeframe:
- Should you enroll in Medicare Part D, which will cover the cost of your medications?
- Should you buy Medicare Supplement to cover expenses that arent included in Original Medicare?
- Should you replace Original Medicare with Medicare Part C ?
Applying For Medicare By Phone
Just like applying online, applying for Medicare by phone is easy. You can contact a representative at 1-800-772-1213.
Depending on the volume of calls, there might be a wait time. If the wait time is above average, you can schedule an appointment to have a representative call you.
The only downfall with applying for Medicare by phone is that it can take longer compared to online. If youre ahead of the game and start well before your birthday, then applying by phone shouldnt cause any issues. If you do not wish to apply online or by phone, you can choose to do so in person.
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Your Medicare Special Enrollment Period
If your employer has at least 20 employees and youre still working and covered under that plan when you turn 65, you can delay your enrollment in Medicare . In that case, youll get an eight-month special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare if and when you leave your job or your employer stops offering coverage. It will start the month after you separate from your employer, or the month after your group health coverage ends whichever happens sooner.
Sign up during those eight months, and you wont have to worry about premium surcharges for being late. And the eight-month special enrollment period is also available if youre delaying Part B enrollment because youre covered under your spouses employer-sponsored plan, assuming their employer has at least 20 employees.
But note that in either case, it has to be a current employer. If youre covered under COBRA or a retiree plan, you wont avoid the Part B late enrollment penalty when you eventually enroll, and you wont have access to a special enrollment period to sign up for Part B youll have to wait for the general enrollment period instead.
The Bottom Line: Know Your Options Enroll On Time
Dont delay making Medicare decisions and dealing with Medicare enrollment. Learn about the choices you have can you delay, must you enroll and then understand the implications of both as they relate to your overall health and financial well-being.
Late-enrollment penalties for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D are permanent and can have a meaningful impact on your finances so think carefully about what you do and when.
Not sure where to start? A good first step for anyone approaching Medicare eligibility is to know when your enrollment dates are. You can quickly find your dates for your Initial Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period using our enrollment date calculator.
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