When Should You Enroll in Medicare?

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If you are nearing 65, you can enroll in Medicare during the seven months of the initial enrollment period. The initial enrollment period includes the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your 65th birthday and the three months after the month of your 65th birthday.


Medicare Part A — Hospital Insurance

  • If you are getting benefits from Social Security, you automatically get Part A benefits starting the first day of the month that
    you turn 65
    .
  • You will receive a package of information from Medicare at the beginning of your initial Medicare enrollment period.
  • The package will contain your Medicare card and information about your benefits.
  • If you don't automatically receive a Medicare enrollment notice, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 and request a Medicare enrollment package.
  • For most people, Medicare Part A is free.

Medicare Part B — Medical

  • There are three opportunities to sign up for Part B: the initial Medicare enrollment period, the special Medicare enrollment period and the general Medicare enrollment period.
  • If you or your spouse are still working and are enrolled in a group health plan, you may decide to delay enrolling in Part B until you retire. This is because you may have "Creditable Coverage"; check with your employer benefits administrator to see if this applies to you. Then you may be eligible for the "Special Enrollment Period" once you retire.
Medicare Part B Enrollment Period Table
  Initial Enrollment Period General Enrollment Period Special Enrollment Period
Who is eligible? Individuals turning 65 Individuals who miss the Initial Enrollment Period Individuals who have employer or union medical benefits or dropped prior Part B coverage to return to work
When is the enrollment period? 7 months including:
— 3 months prior to the 65th birthday month
— 65th birthday month
— 3 months after the 65th birthday month
The January 1 – March 31 time period after the individual's Initial Enrollment Period — Coverage effective July 1
8 months beginning on the date employer or union coverage ends, whichever is first
What is the late enrollment penalty? 10% for each year the individual is late enrolling for as long as the individual has Part B
— Penalty increases as Medicare premiums increase
10% for each year the individual is late enrolling for as long as the individual has Part B
— Penalty increases as Medicare premiums increase
Must enroll within the 8-month window