Ways To Apply For Disability Benefits:
- If you or your spouse worked for a railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772.
Once your disability benefits start, well mail you a welcome package with your Medicare card.
Sign up for Part B if you live in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S.You get Part A automatically. If you want Part B, you need to sign up for it. If you dont sign up for Part B within 3 months after your Part A starts, you might have to wait to sign up for Part B and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty.
Whathappens When A Qualifying Spouse Is Younger
A person is eligible for Medicare Part A if they or their spouse have paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters of work.
This might become more challenging when an older adult with a younger spouse did not work 40 quarters but their spouse did.
If a younger spouse worked for 40 quarters, they can qualify their partner for Medicare coverage once they reach 62 years of age and the older, nonworking spouse reaches 65 years of age.
If a person reaches 65 years of age, did not pay Medicare taxes for 40 quarters, and has a spouse under the age of 62 years, they may have to pay for their Medicare Part A benefits until their qualifying spouse reaches 62 years of age.
When To Apply For Medicare Part A And Part B
The Initial Enrollment Period is usually the first time you can apply for Medicare. There are a few special circumstances that might allow you to enroll earlier . But in general, people apply for Medicare within their seven-month IEP.
Heres what the Initial Enrollment Period looks like:
- Three full months before your 65th birthday month
- The entire month in which you turn 65
- Three full months after your birthday month
If you miss your sign-up window for Medicare Part A and Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, there is also a General Enrollment Period every year from January 1 to March 31. And if you defer your Part B coverage , there is a Special Enrollment Period.
As a word of caution, if youre signing up for Medicare outside of your IEP, there are some pitfalls that are easily stepped into. You can read more about enrollment periods here.
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When And How To Apply For Medicare
Learn about Medicare enrollment periods and how to sign up for all the coverage you need.
Youre about to get Medicare! Thats great news because the program helps pay for your health care costs and brings peace of mind. But learning how Medicare works and how to apply can be overwhelming. This article breaks down the key Medicare enrollment periods, how they work, and helps you plan for your big enrollment day.
After You Apply For Medicare
No matter how you applied, once your application is complete, the Social Security office will send you a copy of the information it has on record regarding your application. Be sure to double-check this document for any mistakes, as this is your chance to correct it.
Some time later, youll get your Medicare card via mail, so be on the lookout for envelopes from the Social Security office.
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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.
Do I Need Other Documents If Im Enrolling In A Specific Part Of Medicare
Youll need to enroll in original Medicare before you can enroll in any other Medicare parts. Other parts of Medicare include:
- Medicare Part D, which is prescription drug coverage
- Medicare supplement insurance, also called Medigap
You shouldnt need to submit any additional documentation when you enroll in these other parts.
Youll just be asked to provide your Medicare number and your Medicare Part A start date. You can find your Medicare number and Part A start date on your Medicare card.
You can get new copies of any documents you no longer have. Its a good idea to start gathering documents before you apply for Medicare.
If you need new copies of any documents, you can follow the steps below.
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Do You Have To Sign Up For Medicare When Youre 65
As long as you have creditable coverage, you dont have to enroll in Medicare when you are 65. Technically, you dont have to sign up for Medicare at all if you dont want to. Medicare is not mandatory, but it is important to be aware that if you choose to sign up later without creditable coverage, youll incur penalties that you may be stuck with for the rest of your life.
The most common reason a new beneficiary may delay enrolling in Medicare is that they have coverage through their employer. However, not all group coverage is creditable coverage. The size of your employer will determine if the coverage is creditable.
Medicare Eligibility For Medicare Advantage Before 65
After youre enrolled in Original Medicare, you may choose to remain with Original Medicare or consider enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan offered by a private, Medicare-approved insurance company.
Medicare eligibility for Medicare Part C works a little differently. Youre eligible for Medicare Advantage plans if you have Part A and Part B and live in the service area of a Medicare Advantage plan. If you have End Stage Renal Disease , you usually cant enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, but there may be some exceptions, such as a Medicare Advantage plan offered by the same insurance company as your employer-based health plan, or a Medicare Special Needs Plan .
When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, youre still in the Medicare program and need to pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium and any premium the plan charges. The Medicare Advantage program offers an alternative way of receiving Original Medicare coverage but may offer additional benefits. For example, Original Medicare doesnt include prescription drug coverage or routine dental/vision care, but a Medicare Advantage plan may include these benefits and more. Benefits, availability and plan costs vary among plans.
New To Medicare?
Becoming eligible for Medicare can be daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand Medicare in 15 minutes or less.
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Medicare Eligibility For People Under 62
There are a few exceptions for Medicare age limits that can allow people younger than 65 and under age 62 to enroll in Medicare.
- If you have ALS , you are immediately eligible for Medicare regardless of your age as soon as your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits begin.
- You may also qualify for Medicare if you have kidney failure that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant, which is known as end-stage renal disease .
- You may also qualify for Medicare at age 62 or any age before 65 if you receive disability benefits from either Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for at least 24 months.
If you qualify for Medicare under the age of 65 because of a disability, you might also qualify for a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan.
Social Security Office Locator
There isnt just one simple answer to the question of when you should apply for Medicare. There are times when someone becomes eligible for Medicare and their card is mailed to them automatically. These people do not have to apply.Those people automatically receiving Medicare without applying include:
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Q: What Should You Do To Prepare For Medicare At Age 64
A: If you take Social Security at age 65, you automatically get put into Medicare. Unfortunately the retirement age is now 66 and if you wait until then to take Social Security, youll likely need to prepare for Medicare at age 64 on your own, and a lot of people dont realize that.
You enroll in Medicare through the Social Security Office. You can either enroll online, on the Social Security website it takes about 10 minutes or you can go to a Social Security office. They recommend calling first to make an appointment, so you wont be waiting there all day. Or, you can enroll over the phone, by calling Social Security. You usually wait on hold for a while, but its another option.
Corinne Lofchie, LICSW, is an Elder Care Advisor at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services
You can start the process three months before your 65th birthday. That way, your coverage will start the month that you turn 65. Lets say your birthday is January 15. If you enroll in the three-month period before January, your Medicare coverage will begin on January 1. After your birthday month, you have 3 more months to enroll. If you wait, say until January, your coverage will begin on February 1. It always starts the next month, unless you enroll before your birthday month.
Medicare Eligibility At Age 65
- You are at least 65 years old
- You are a U.S. citizen or a legal resident for at least five years
In order to receive premium-free Part A of Medicare, you must meet both of the above requirements and qualify for full Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, which requires working and paying Social Security taxes for at least 10 full years .
Learn more about Medicare eligibility at and before age 65 by referring to this helpful chart and reading more information below.
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How To Apply For Medicare Through Social Security
Apply online: The easiest way to complete the Medicare enrollment application is online at ssa.gov. Its convenient to sign up from home. You can start and stop the application and save your information. After you submit your application, youll get a receipt to print and keep. You can also check the status of your application.
Apply in person: Visit your local Social Security office. You can find the nearest office with the Social Security office locator. They recommend that you make an appointment.
Apply by phone: Call Social Security at 800-772-1213 .
When Should You Apply For Medicare If You Have Employer Health Coverage
Most people should sign up for Medicare Part A when theyre first eligible because it rarely costs anything. But some people delay enrolling in Part B because they dont want to pay the monthly premium. The decision usually depends on the type of health coverage you already have.
You can put off enrolling in Part B at age 65 if you have group health coverage through your or your spouses job and the employer has at least 20 employees.6 Youll be able to enroll with no penalty during the Special Enrollment Period that follows the end of your employers insurance. You can also choose to enroll in Part B while still insured and pay the premium.
If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you should apply for Part A and Part B as soon as youre eligible.7
Be sure to talk to your employers benefits administrator about how signing up for Medicare will affect your coverage or Health Savings Account .8 You cannot contribute to an HSA if you have Medicare Part A. Your administrator can help you time the beginning and end of your coverage through work and your new health insurance so theres no gap in your coverage.
When your group coverage is ending, youll need to complete documentation and submit it to your Social Security office. If you have questions, ask Social Security.
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Medicare Special Enrollment Period
Special situations may come up that give you the chance to sign up for or change your Medicare plan outside of your Initial Enrollment Period or the Annual Enrollment Period.
There are several special cases that make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
Here are some common situations:
- You move: If you move to an address outside your plans service area, into a nursing home, or you have different plan options at your new address, youll be able to apply for a new plan.
- You want to switch to a 5-star Medicare plan: Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Medicare considers these plans excellent. You can make the switch once to a 5-star plan anytime from Dec. 8 through Nov. 30 if one is available in your area.
- You lose your current coverage: This applies if you or your spouse will retire or change to a job that doesnt offer coverage. It doesnt apply if your insurance company cancels your coverage because you didnt pay your monthly premiums.
- Your plan changes its contract with Medicare: Enrollment in a plan depends on the plans contract with Medicare, and for various reasons these contracts could change.
Your new coverage begins on the first day of the month after you sign up.
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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How To Apply For Medicare Through The Rrb
If you worked for the railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 877-772-5772 or submit an online service request through the RRB website.
The best time to apply is during the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. Or, you can sign up during the Medicare General Enrollment Period.
Note: If you are still working, you can still sign up for RRB Medicare coverage when you turn 65. No need to retire.
If you, or a family member, are already receiving a railroad retirement annuity, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. Coverage begins when you turn 65.
Signing Up For Premium
You can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Your Part A coverage starts 6 months back from when you sign up or when you apply for benefits from Social Security . Coverage cant start earlier than the month you turned 65.
After your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you can only sign up for Part B and Premium-Part A during one of the other enrollment periods.
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Applying For Medicare Online
Applying for Medicare online is a quick and easy process on the Social Security website, taking approximately ten minutes. After you have applied for Medicare online, you can check the status of your application and/or appeal, request a replacement card, and print a benefit verification letter.
Once you apply for Part B, give us a call so we can help you choose a supplement plan to cover what Medicare doesnt.
If youre not comfortable applying for Medicare online, you can do so over the phone.
How To Apply For Medicare In Florida
You can sign up for Original Medicare at any Social Security office or online. The Social Security Administration has a secure online portal where you can sign up in about 10 minutes.If youre getting Social Security benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, youre automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Social Security will send you Medicare information and a Medicare card prior to your 65th birthday.
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Get Answers To Your Medicare Questions And Enroll In A Plan
If you have further questions about Medicare eligibility, contact a licensed insurance agent today. A licensed agent can help answer your questions and help you compare Medicare Advantage plans that are available where you live.
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About the author
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelors degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you’ve seen coverage of Christian’s research and reports:
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