Common Questions

SSA.gov: Medicare Information and Enrollment From the Social Security Administration

SSA.gov is a great source of Medicare information, and it’s the place to apply online for Medicare benefits. Learn more about navigating the Social Security Administration site.

SSA.gov is the place to go to apply online for Medicare and to learn more about Medicare enrollment.

This guide can help you learn how to navigate the website from the Social Security Administration so that you can find information about Medicare benefits and enroll in Medicare.

Getting to the Medicare section of SSA.gov

As the official website for the Social Security Administration, there is plenty of information on SSA.gov that encompasses everything from retirement to how to enroll in Medicare.

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There are two primary ways to navigate to the site’s information on Medicare:

  • The first is to visit the homepage at ssa.gov and then click “Menu” near the upper right portion of the screen. Under the dropdown menu, click on “Medicare.”

SSA.gov menu screen

  • The second – and more direct – way of getting to more Medicare information is to type ssa.gov/benefits/medicare into your browser, or simply click here.

What Medicare options are available on SSA.gov?

Once you have found the Medicare portal of SSA.gov, you’ll see the page broken down into multiple sections, each separated by headlines as follows:

  • New Medicare Cards
    Request a new Medicare card if yours has been lost, or update your mailing address in advance receiving a new Medicare card.

  • Learn about Medicare
    Read Medicare publications provided for free by the Social Security Administration.

  • Already Enrolled in Medicare
    Current Medicare beneficiaries can go here to manage their benefits online and apply for Medicare Part B coverage or Medicare Extra Help.

  • Applying for Medicare
    Learn more information about Medicare eligibility and enrollment.

  • How To Apply Online For Just Medicare
    This is where you can apply for Medicare if you are not yet ready to retire or to collect Social Security benefits.

  • Questions About Our Online Application
    In this section, you’ll find the answers to some common questions regarding the Medicare application.

Related Medicare information

On the right side of the page, you’ll see a section titled “Related Information.”

This is where you can find additional Medicare information, such as Medicare premiums for higher income earners, Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) enrollment information, Medicare benefits for military service members and more.

Can you enroll in Medicare before Social Security?

If you wish to enroll in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) 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 plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Most baby boomers need to wait until they are 66 or 67 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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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 2021, the standard Medicare Part B premium is $148.50 per month for most beneficiaries.  

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

Speak to a licensed insurance agent to learn more

While the range of Medicare information on SSA.gov can be helpful, you may find the answers you need by speaking with someone over the phone.

Fortunately, there are several options for learning more about Medicare:

  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048)
  • Contact your local Social Security office
  • Call your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

You can also get help with your Medicare questions by speaking with a licensed insurance agent. Learn more about Medicare plan options that are available where you live, the benefits they offer and how much the plans may cost you.

To get started, call to speak to a licensed insurance agent today.

 

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Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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