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Medicare Enrollment Periods

It is essential to understand the various enrollment periods to apply for Medicare at the right time.

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): This is the seven month period when you first become eligible for Medicare.

  • General Enrollment Period (GEP): If you miss your IEP, you can enroll during the GEP, which runs from January 1st to March 31st each year.

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP): There are certain circumstances, such as losing employer based coverage or relocating, that allow you to enroll outside the regular enrollment periods.

When to sign up for Medicare if you’re still working past 65

Many individuals opt to continue their employment past the age of 65 and retain the health coverage provided by their employer's group plan. However, if you've been contributing to Medicare through your payroll, it's wise to sign up for Original Medicare Part A, which covers hospital costs, as soon as you're eligible. There's no premium for this.

When it comes to Medicare Part B, which covers medical expenses, most people should sign up at 65 to steer clear of a late-enrollment penalty. The only exceptions are those with health coverage from their own or their spouse’s current employment. These individuals might be able to defer enrolling in Part B, hence delaying the monthly premium payment. As of 2023, this premium stands at $164.90 or more, based on your income.

Medicare’s Special Enrollment Period

Should you be 65 or older and your health coverage comes from a group plan from your or your spouse's current job, you could be eligible for a Special Election Period (SEP). This allowance lets you sign up for Parts A and/or B during an 8-month timeframe. This period begins the month after your group health plan coverage ends or when the employment it relies on ends, whichever occurs first.

How to Apply for Medicare

Applying for Medicare is a straightforward process. You can apply online at the Social Security website, in person at your local Social Security office, or over the phone. You will need to provide personal information and details about your employment history.

  • Online application: The easiest and fastest way to sign up is to visit the Social Security Administration's website and complete the Medicare application form. You’ll need to create your my Social Security account to sign up for Medicare online.

  • Phone application: Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and apply over the phone.

  • In person at your local Social Security Office. Click here for the Office Locator

    to search by zip code.

👇👇 Step by Step Video on How to Apply 👇👇

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Applying for Medicare Part A

In most cases, you do not need to apply for Medicare Part A. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you are typically enrolled in Medicare Part A automatically. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will send you a Medicare card a few months before you turn 65 or after you have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months.

If you are not receiving Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you can still qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for at least 10 years (equivalent to 40 quarters). In this case, you will be enrolled in Medicare Part A automatically when you turn 65.

If you do not meet these criteria and want to enroll in Medicare Part A, you can apply for it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for Medicare before I turn 65?

Yes, you can apply for Medicare before you turn 65 if you have certain disabilities or End Stage Renal Disease.

How can I avoid late enrollment penalties?

The best way to avoid late enrollment penalties is to apply for Medicare during your initial enrollment period.

Do I need to apply for Medicare if I'm still working at 65?

It depends on the size of your employer. If you work for a small company, it might be advantageous to apply for Medicare. For larger companies, you may be able to delay without penalty.



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We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact or ‍1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information. Not connected with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program.

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