Signing Up for Medicare

If you’re nearing the age of 65, it’s time to start thinking about signing up for Medicare.

The process of signing up can be relatively easy — it’s figuring out your eligibility and keeping up with the different Medicare enrollment periods that may be a little confusing for some people.

This guide will help you make the process easier to understand.

Adults smiling after group exercise

How do I know if I’m eligible?

You can use the eligibility calculator online to get an idea of when you’re eligible for Medicare.

There are a few general rules when it comes to Medicare eligibility, though.

You can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B if:

  • You’re turning 65
  • You’re younger than 65, and have received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability benefits for 24 months.
  • You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • You have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and meet certain requirements.

You must be a US citizen or permanent resident of five consecutive years.

How to enroll

Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 for more information about your Medicare eligibility and to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.

You can also apply online, or visit your local Social Security office.

If you worked for a railroad, you need to call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772. TTY: 1‑312‑751‑4701.

If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) retirement benefits when you turn 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.

The same applies if you’re under 65 and disabled— you’ll be automatically enrolled on your 25th month of receiving Social Security disability benefits or certain disability benefits from the RRB. If you have ALS, your Medicare coverage begins on your first month of disability benefits.

If you have ESRD, you’ll need to manually sign up.

Signing up for Medicare if you’re still working

If you’re 65 or older, still working, and covered under a group health plan from either your (or your spouse’s) current employment, you may qualify for a special enrollment period.

This means that you can sign up for Medicare when your employer-based coverage ends without penalty. For more information on restrictions and qualifications for special enrollment, contact the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

There are other special enrollment situations and conditions that may qualify you to sign up for Medicare outside of your regular enrollment period.

Choices for getting health care services

Medicare beneficiaries have several choices for how they receive health care benefits. Private insurers offer coverage options for Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Medicare Advantage can be purchased as an alternative to Original Medicare. These private health plans include all of the same benefits as Part A and Part B plus — in many cases — others (vision, hearing, and dental services, and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage).

  • Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) can be purchased from a private insurer and used with Original Medicare. These standalone plans will help pay for the cost of your medications.

  • Medicare Supplement Insurance helps pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare, like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. You can enroll once you’ve signed up for and enrolled in Original Medicare. You cannot use a Medicare Supplement plan with a Medicare Advantage plan.

Signing up for Medicare doesn’t have to be complicated. Knowing what your options are, and when you need to enroll are usually the hardest parts. Use these tips and resources to help make sure you have enough time to determine what Medicare coverage fits your needs.

To discuss your options and find a Medicare Advantage plan in your area, call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.


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