How Can I Sign up for Medicare?

You will automatically receive Original Medicare Part A and Part B benefits the month you turn 65 if you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) retirement benefits. A red white and blue Medicare card and an explanation of benefits should arrive in the mail. In addition, Medicare Part B includes a monthly premium. For individuals with birthdays that fall on the first of the month, Part A and Part B benefits will start one month prior to turning 65. You will still need to sign up for Part D and Part C benefits.

Auntie Lou says, "Hey, I didn't get a pretty card in the mail when I turned 65 did you?"

If You Don't Already Receive Social Security Benefits You should also sign up for Medicare during the three months prior to your 65th birthday. You will have a seven-month window to apply for coverage without incurring late enrollment penalties. These seven months include 3 months before and 3 months after your birthday month. If you sign up during your birthday month or during the last three months of this 7-month period your coverage start date will be delayed.

If you are still working or do not automatically qualify for Medicare benefits you will need to enroll yourself in Medicare to get benefits. Employed people or those with retiree benefits should contact their current plan administrator before turning 65 to find out how Medicare will work with their current coverage.

You should contact Medicare during the 3 months before you turn 65 to request information, enrollment and benefits. Make sure you have your social security number on hand. In addition, if you are a high wage earner (more than $85,000 for individual and $170,000 for couples you will also want to have a copy of your tax return from two years ago). You then call:
Social Security: 1-800-772-1213. TTY Users should call 1-800-325-0778.

If you are 65 or older and are eligible for Medicare benefits you can also apply online at
Railroad retirees should call 1-877-772-5772.

Help for choosing Medicare Plans, enrolling and understanding the process is available through your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program or by calling Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or by visiting their Website at