Common Questions

Medicare Application: The Documents You Need When You Apply

If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare, you’ll need to have these documents and information on hand when you apply for Medicare benefits. Learn more about what you need to have ready when you apply.

Some qualified beneficiaries may be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).

If you need to apply for Medicare, here are some of the important documents and information you’ll need to have ready when you fill out your Medicare application.

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How do I sign up for Medicare?

There are three ways to apply for Medicare:

  • Online
    You may apply for Medicare online through the Social Security Administration (SSA) website. The application process typically takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

  • By phone
    Call 1-800-772-1213 between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday to apply over the phone. If you are hard of hearing, you may dial 1-800-325-0778.

  • In person
    Visit your local Social Security office to apply for Medicare in person.

If you're eligible for or enrolled in Medicare and you want to compare your Medicare plan options, a licensed insurance agent may be able to help.

You can call to speak with an agent who can help you compare Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and Medicare prescription drug plans that are available where you live. If you're eligible, an agent may be able to help you enroll over the phone.

You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent


Documentation Required For Medicare In United States

To apply for Original Medicare, you're required to provide the following documentation:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Residency
  • Social Security Card
  • Health Insurance Information
  • Tax Information
  • Military Documents (If Applicable)

If you've already applied for Medicare and you're looking to apply for additional Medicare coverage plans, then you shouldn't have to submit additional information, but it's best to be prepared just in case. 

What do you need to bring when applying for Medicare?

If you are applying in person for Medicare benefits, you may want to have the following documents handy when you apply.

Birth certificate

You typically need to be at least 65 years old to receive Medicare benefits, unless you have a qualifying disability or condition. However, you may begin the enrollment process three months before turning 65, which is when your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) typically begins.

Learn more about the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period.

Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency

You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident of the U.S. for at least five continuous years to be eligible for Medicare.

Your Social Security card (if already receiving SSA benefits)

If you are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you may be required to supply your Social Security card when applying for Medicare.

Health insurance information

Depending on your situation, you may be able to use Medicare in conjunction with other types of health insurance.

If you already have a health insurance policy, you may need to show documents that detail your current coverage and your insurance plan terms and conditions. Medicare can use these important documents to help determine which insurer will pay first for any health care services you receive.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent


Tax information

You may have to show some of your tax record information, such as a W-2, when you sign up for Medicare.

The number of years that you have worked and paid Medicare taxes can determine whether you are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A (hospital insurance).

Your reported income from two years prior can determine how much you will pay for your Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premium.

Military documents

There are some specific rules concerning Medicare and veteran’s health insurance benefits, and you may have to provide records of your military service if you are receiving any such military or veteran’s benefits.

Part B enrollment application

If you originally opted out of Medicare Part B and now want to sign up, you may have to fill out a Part B enrollment application.

How do I apply for Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) provide the same benefits as Original Medicare and may offer benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.

If you are eligible for Original Medicare, you may also be eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan. To find out more about your eligibility and to compare plans that are available where you live, call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.

You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.


About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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