When Can I Enroll Into Medicare?

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Automatic Enrollment

 

If you're already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you'll automatically get Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.


If you're under 65 and disabled, you'll automatically get Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months. If you have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gerhig's disease), you'll get Part A and Part B automatically the month your Social Security disability benefits begin.


If you're automatically enrolled, you'll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or 25th month of disability benefits. If you do nothing, you'll keep Part B and will pay Part B premiums. You can choose not to keep Part B at this time, but you may have to wait to enroll and pay a penalty when you do choose to enroll at a later date.

You Need To Sign Up

If you're close to 65, but NOT getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, you'll need to sign up.  You can contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65 by calling 1-800-772-1213 to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. You can also sign up at ssa.gov/planners/retirement. 

Initial Enrollment Period

You can first sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the 3 months after the month you turn 65. If you sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, in most cases your coverage starts the first day of your birthday month. If you enroll in Part A and/or Part B the month you turn 65 or during the last 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, the start date for your coverage will be delayed. 

General Enrollment Period

If you didn't sign up for Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up between January 1 - March 31 each year. Your coverage won't start until July 1 of that year, and you may have to pay a higher Part B premium for late enrollment. 

Special Enrollment Period

If you or your spouse are still working, you may have a chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. If you didn't sign up for Part B when you were first eligible because you're covered under a group health plan based on current employment (your own or your spouse's), you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B:

  • Anytime you're still covered by the group health plan.
  • During the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first.