Once you become eligible for Medicare, it’s time to make it official by completing the Medicare enrollment process. Here are some of the important details you need to know in order to register for Medicare.
Whether or not you are automatically enrolled in Medicare generally depends on if you’re already receiving certain retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board retirement benefits when you turn 65, you should be automatically enrolled in both Part A and Part B as soon as you are eligible for Medicare. Your Medicare card should arrive in the mail approximately three months before your 65th birthday, along with a packet of information.
Your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage will begin the first day of the month that you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first of the month, your coverage will begin on the first day of the previous month.
Although Medicare Part B is optional, you will be automatically registered for it (and responsible for paying the Part B premium) if you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. You’ll need to manually opt out of Part B if you do not want Part B coverage.
Instructions for opting out of Medicare Part B will be included with your Medicare card.
If you haven’t started receiving the aforementioned retirement benefits when you turn 65 (typically because you or your spouse is still working), you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare. You will need to manually register for Medicare in one of the following three ways:
If you already have Part A and wish to sign up for Medicare Part B, you must download the required application, fill it out and return it to your local Social Security office either by mail or in person.
If you’re eligible for Medicare because of a disability, you will be automatically enrolled after collecting disability benefits from either Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months.
Your Medicare card will arrive in the mail prior to your 25th month of collecting disability benefits, and your Medicare coverage will begin on the first day of the 25th month. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B and given the option of opting out if you choose.
If you have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you do not have to wait 24 months for your Medicare coverage to take effect. You will be automatically enrolled in both Part A and Part B during your first month of collecting disability benefits, and your Medicare card will arrive in the mail the same month.
If you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you are eligible for Medicare but will not be automatically enrolled. If you do enroll, your Medicare coverage will begin in the fourth month of your dialysis treatment and will end either 12 months after stopping dialysis or 36 months after receiving a kidney transplant.
You must contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or your local Social Security office in order to sign up for Medicare.
Most people qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, which means that you receive Medicare Part A hospital insurance coverage without paying a monthly fee for it. In order to qualify for premium-free Part A, you must have payed Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years).
It may help you to learn more about the following Medicare enrollment periods, so that you know when you can register for the Medicare coverage you want:
The earliest you can register for Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment Period, which starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday and lasts for an additional three months after that.
If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you can register during your Initial Enrollment Period as detailed above. If you miss this period, you can also register during the annual Medicare Fall Open Enrollment period, which lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year.
Only registration for Part A and Part B can be conducted through the Social Security Administration.
If you want to register for a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you will need to do so manually during the appropriate enrollment period as mentioned above.
It can be difficult to understand exactly how to register for Medicare and get the benefits you need. To learn more and to get some help in the enrollment process, you can reach out to a licensed insurance agent by calling TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A licensed insurance agent can help you compare Medicare plan options that may be available where you live so that you can find the right coverage for your needs.