When Can I Sign Up for Medicare?

If you are already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) you will automatically be signed up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B benefits from the first day of the month that you turn 65. A Medicare Card should arrive in the mail. Part B is premium based and in addition to the card you will also start getting a monthly premium bill. If your birthday is on the first of the month you should get all these things one month prior to turning 65.

If you are still working or have not worked long enough to automatically qualify for Social Security or Medicare benefits you will need to sign up for Medicare. You should contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65 to request enrollment and benefits. This is done by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

If you are 65 or older and are eligible for Medicare benefits you can apply online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. Railroad retirees should call 1-877-772-5772

Sign Up for Medicare Early!

You have seven months called your "Initial sign up period" to sign up for Medicare around your 65th birthday without incurring what is known as an enrollment penalty ($$) for signing up late. These 7 months include three months before your birthday, your birthday month and three months after your birthday. There will be a delay in the date your coverage begins if you do not sign up during the first three months prior to your birthday month. If you sign up before your birthday your coverage will begin the first day of your birthday month. If your birthday is on the first, your coverage will begin one month before you turn 65. If you enroll for Medicare the month of your birthday or during the 3 months following your birthday your coverage start day will be delayed by 1-3 months. You will have six months from the time you are enrolled in Part B and turn 65 to sign up for a Medigap policy.

Auntie Lou says, "Signing up reminds me a lot of the military. Although I think Medicare has more rules."

If you miss this initial sign up period and do not qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period" you may signup for Part A and Part B Medicare coverage between January 1 and March 31 of every year and your coverage will begin July 1. Provided you do not qualify for the special enrollment period you will pay an enrollment penalty for late enrollment. Part C and D coverage can be changed or switched to every year during open enrollment times between October 15th and Dec 7th.