Enrolling in Medicare Without Social Security? Here Are 5 Key Things to Know

Medicare and Social Security often go hand-in-hand. But it is possible to apply for Medicare without claiming Social Security.

Most baby boomers need to wait until they are 66 to claim Social Security in order to get their full retirement benefits, but eligibility for Medicare typically begins at age 65 for many Americans. If you wait until age 66 or later before you collect Social Security, you may need to enroll in Medicare separately. 

Here are five things to know about enrolling in Medicare without collecting Social Security benefits.

Couple reviewing Medicare enrollment options with a professional

1. You may need to be proactive to enroll in Medicare

Those who are 65 years old and collecting Social Security for at least four months are often automatically enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).

But if you are not collecting Social Security benefits by age 65, you will not typically be automatically enrolled in Medicare, so you will have to be proactive about taking the proper steps to sign up for Medicare. 

2. If you’re eligible, you can enroll in Medicare online

If you wish to enroll in Original Medicare before collecting Social Security retirement benefits, you may do so online here.

You may also call or visit your local Social Security office, although the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the operations of many local offices.

Once you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you may then consider enrolling in a private Medicare insurance plan like a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

To learn more about Medicare plan options that may be available where you live, you can with a licensed insurance agent by calling 1-800-000-0000 TTY:711. You can also compare plans online.

3. If you delay, you may pay late enrollment penalties

If you delay your Medicare enrollment until you collect full Social Security benefits at age 66, you may face late enrollment penalties for Medicare Part B once you finally do enroll. You may also have to pay a Part D late enrollment fee each month if you go more than 60 days without creditable prescription drug coverage.

These late enrollment penalties will be tacked onto your monthly Medicare Part B and/or Part D premiums for as long as you are enrolled. 

4. You can still sign up for Medicare 90 days before your birthday

Even if you are not receiving Social Security benefits at age 65, you may typically still be granted the same Medicare enrollment window as those who are receiving Social Security retirement benefits at age 65.

This window is called your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, and it begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday and continues for an additional three months for a total of seven months.

If you wait until after your 65th birthday to enroll in Medicare, however, your Part B coverage may be delayed. You may have to pay the Part B late enrollment penalty outlined above if you enroll well after your Initial Enrollment Period ends.

5. You will likely receive a monthly bill for your Medicare Part A and/or Part B premiums

Many Americans who collect Social Security retirement benefits typically have their Medicare Part B monthly premium deducted directly from their Social Security check and do not have to take any action to pay their Medicare bill.

If you don’t receive a monthly Social Security benefits check, you will most likely be sent a bill in the mail for your Part B premiums. In 2020, the standard Medicare Part B premium is $144.60 per month for most beneficiaries.  

Most people do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A.

Learn about your Medicare enrollment options

If you have questions about Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare prescription drug coverage and want to find out what plan options are available for you, you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

You can also compare plans online to learn more about the coverage, benefits and costs of the plans that may be available. If you’re eligible, you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

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Or call TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!