Common Questions

How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card

If your Medicare card is lost, stolen or damaged, you can get a replacement card from Social Security and the Railroad Retirement Board, or by calling Medicare or logging into your My Social Security online account.

When you first enroll in Medicare, one of the most important documents you will receive is your red, white and blue Medicare card. This card is unique to you, with a personal identification number that shows you are enrolled in Medicare and that Medicare will cover eligible services. Your providers may ask you to show your card as proof that you are covered.

The Medicare card tells your provider if you have Medicare Part A, Part B or both, and the date your coverage started.

You should always carry your card whenever you travel or are away from home in case you require medical care while away.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent


Typically, your Medicare card will arrive in the mail within 30 days of enrollment. Those who are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) retirement benefits and are automatically enrolled in Medicare at age 65 will usually get their card a few months before their 65th birthday.

Those who you qualify for Medicare because of disability will get their Medicare card in the mail three months before their 25th month of disability benefits.

How to replace a lost, stolen or damaged Medicare card

If your Medicare card is lost, stolen or becomes damaged or worn out, you need to replace it as soon as possible. There are several ways to do this:

  • If you have Original Medicare, you can request a new card by calling Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.

  • If you worked for a railroad, you can call the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) at 877-772-5772 (TTY users, call 312-751-4701), Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • You can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 (TTY users, call 800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • You can also request a replacement card online at the Social Security website. You will need to create a My Social Security account to sign in if you don’t already have one. Once you have logged in, select the “Replacement documents” tab, and then select “Mail my replacement Medicare card.”

  • You can request a new card in person at your local Social Security office. New Medicare cards typically arrive in the mail about 30 days after you place your request.

  • If you have a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan instead of Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and/or Part B), you should contact your plan provider for a new card. You can follow the instructions from that provider’s customer service line or website to request a replacement card.

Your replacement Medicare card will be mailed to you about 30 days after your request. The card will go to the address on file, so be sure to contact Social Security or the RRB and update your address if you’ve moved. You can do this by phone, or update your address and contact information yourself at your My Social Security account.

How to replace private Medicare plan cards

Those who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans, Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans or other types of Medicare plans may receive separate insurance cards for those.

To replace those cards, contact your Medicare plan carrier directly and ask how to get a replacement card from your insurance company.

How to replace a Medicare card sooner than 30 days

There may be a time when you need a Medicare replacement card sooner than the 30 days it typically takes to arrive in the mail. For instance, you may have a doctor’s appointment already scheduled, or you need a prescription refilled soon.

If that is the case, Social Security or the RRB can provide a letter for you to use as temporary proof of Medicare coverage. This letter will be mailed to you in about 10 days. To request such a letter, contact Social Security or the RRB.

If you need proof of Medicare coverage immediately, go to your local Social Security office or Railroad Retirement Board office in person.

How to access care without a Medicare card

If you need care and do not have a Medicare card or replacement letter, you still can receive  healthcare services.

  • If you have Original Medicare, log in to and print a temporary copy of your Medicare card.

  • Ask your healthcare provider to look up your Medicare number online.

  • Your primary care doctor and other previous healthcare providers may also have your insurance information on file in their medical records.

How to protect your Medicare card

Medicare cards are made from paper, so they are likely to wear out from use over time. It is up to you to protect your card to keep it in good condition. You also need to safeguard your card to prevent identity theft of your Medicare information.

Some people consider laminating their card to protect it from wear and tear. The Social Security Administration does not recommend doing that, however, because laminating the card may interfere with its security features. Instead, use a clear plastic cardholder or sleeve to protect it from damage and keep it visible for your providers.

The Social Security Administration also suggests you consider photocopying your card. Keep the copy in a safe location, such as a lockbox or safe deposit box with other important documents.

You should also keep important numbers, including the Medicare phone number and the contact details for Medicare Advantage or Medigap providers, handy and in a safe place.

How to protect personal Medicare information

Your Medicare beneficiary identifier number is private and personal. It is critical that you take the necessary steps to prevent identity theft and insurance fraud. For example:

  • Never share your Medicare beneficiary identifier number with anyone except your healthcare providers.

  • Never provide personal Medicare information to a person who emails or calls and asks for that information.

  • Never let another person borrow your card to pay for services on your behalf.

  • Check your Medicare Summary Notice to make sure that it is accurate. If you notice healthcare services that you did not receive, first call your healthcare provider to ask if there has been a billing error.

  • If you are concerned about possible Medicare identity theft or fraudulent activity, you should contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.

Getting help with your other Medicare questions

Do you have other questions about your Medicare coverage? 

Learn more about your Medicare Advantage coverage options and compare available plans by calling today to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

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


About the author

David Levine is an award-winning writer and editor whose work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated, American Heritage, U.S. News & World Report and others.

David has covered health, health insurance and health policy topics – among many others – since 2017. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Rochester and currently lives in Albany, New York.


LinkedIn: David Levine