When can You enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B?

The first opportunity you have to enroll in Medicare is called your Initial Enrollment Period.

image60

The steps you should take to enroll in Medicare Part A (inpatient insurance) and Part B (outpatient medical insurance) depend on how you became eligible for Medicare and if you are already collecting Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits.


* If you are under 65 and have a disability: 


If you become eligible for Medicare because of a disability and have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or railroad disability annuity checks for 24 months, you should automatically be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B at the start of the 25th month. You should not have to contact anyone. 


You should receive a package in the mail with your new Medicare card about three months before your coverage starts. There will also be a letter explaining how Medicare works and that you were automatically enrolled in both Parts A and B. 


* If you get SSDI, your package and card will come from the 

Social Security Administration (SSA). 


* If you get railroad disability annuity checks, your package and card will come from the Railroad Retirement Board. The letter will also explain that your monthly Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your Social Security check or railroad disability annuity check beginning the month your coverage begins. 


Typically, you should not turn down Part B unless you have insurance based on your or your spouse’s current work. 


Your Medicare coverage will begin the first day of the 25th month that you receive SSDI or railroad disability annuity checks.  

If you are turning 65 and you are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits:

image61

... You should be automatically enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. 


If you are eligible for automatic enrollment: 


 * You should receive a package in the mail with your new Medicare card about three months before your coverage starts. 


 * You will also be a letter explaining how Medicare works and that you were automatically enrolled in both Parts A and B. 


 Typically, you should not turn down Part B unless you have insurance based on your current work.


Your Medicare coverage will begin the first day of your 65th birthday month. 

If you are turning 65 and you are NOT currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits:

image62

... You can enroll in Medicare at any time during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).


Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday.


It proceeds the month of your birthday, and ends the third month following your 65th birthday month. 


 * If you enroll during the first three months of your IEP, coverage begins the month in which you first become eligible for Medicare.  


 * If you enroll during the fourth month of your IEP, coverage begins the month following the month of enrollment. 


 * If you enroll during the fifth month of your IEP, coverage begins the second month following the month of enrollment.


  * If you enroll during the sixth or seventh month of your IEP, coverage begins the third month following the month of enrollment.


  * If your birthday falls on the first of the month, your IEP is the seven months surrounding the month prior to the month of your birth. IE: If you turn 65 on June 1, your IEP runs from February 1 to August 31.


The date when your Medicare begins depends upon the date you sign up. 

 


  

If you delay enrollment in Part B, when can you enroll?

You may declined Medicare Part B or delay enrolling in Part B because you are covered by insurance through an employer. You may be able to use the Part B Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

image63

To use the Part B SEP, you must meet two criteria: 


1. You must have insurance from current work (from your job or your spouse’s job, or, in some cases, certain family member’s job) or have had such insurance within the past eight months. 


2. You must have been continuously covered by job-based insurance or Medicare Part B since becoming eligible for Medicare, including the first month you became eligible for Medicare. 


  Note: You can have no more than eight consecutive months without coverage from either Medicare or insurance from current work. You are ineligible for the Part B SEP after going for more than eight months without Part B or job-based insurance.


 

The effective date of your Part B coverage depends on when you use the Part B SEP.

image64

Part B effective date could be the 1st day of the month you enroll or any or the three months after the month you enroll.


  * If you use the Part B SEP in the second month, or later, after your coverage ends, Medicare Part B will become effective the month after the month when you enroll.  


  Note: If you are eligible for premium-free Part A because you or your spouse have at least 40 calendar quarters or work in any job where you paid Social Security taxes in the United States, you can sign up for Part A at any time and will not have a late enrollment penalty for delaying enrollment. 


Many people are eligible for premium-free Part A. Many also choose to enroll when they first become eligible, even if they are delaying Part B, because they do not have to pay a premium. 


If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, you can use the Part B SEP to sign up for Part A, too.

If you missed your IEP and cannot use the Part B SEP, you can enroll in the General Enrollment Period (GEP).

image65

The GEP takes place January 1 through March 31 of each year. During this period, you can enroll in Medicare Part B (and Part A, if you have to pay a premium for Part A and therefore cannot enroll at any time). 


 Enrolling during the GEP means that your coverage will start on July 1. Until that time, you will not be covered by Medicare.   

Enrolling in Medicare during the GEP often means that you will have to pay a Part B premium penalty, a penalty of 10% of the Part B premium for every 12-month period you delayed enrollment in Medicare. 


  

Note: If you are eligible for premium-free Part A because you or your spouse have at least 40 calendar quarters or work in any job where you paid Social Security taxes in the United States, you can sign up for Part A at any time and will not have a late enrollment penalty for delaying enrollment. 


Many people are eligible for premium-free Part A. If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, you can use the GEP to sign up for Part A, too.