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When (and how) to enroll in Medicare Parts A & B
So you’re going to be turning 65, the age when most people first become eligible for Medicare. Now what? Well, depending on your individual situation, you may or may not have to enroll in Medicare.
Most people age 65 and older who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) without paying a monthly plan premium. You're eligible for free Medicare Part A if you are 65 and:
- You receive or will be eligible for Social Security benefits.
- Or you receive or will be eligible for Railroad Retirement benefits.
- Or you or your spouse (living, deceased, or divorced) had employment where Medicare taxes were paid for 40 or more quarters.
If you do not fit into any of these categories, you can still get Medicare Part A by paying a monthly plan premium if you are a U.S. citizen or have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. and lived here for at least five years.
You are eligible for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) if you are eligible for Part A. Part B is optional and you usually will need to pay a premium based on your income.
|Plan to retire at age 65 or are not working, and don't already receive Social Security||You can enroll in Medicare benefits.|
|Already receive Social Security retirement, disability or Railroad Retirement benefits||You'll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.|
|Are currently covered by an employer-provided group health plan||Talk to your human resources department before you enroll in Medicare.|
|Plan to continue working past age 65||You have the option to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B—which may affect when you can enroll in coverage in a Medicare Supplement insurance policy, a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D prescription drug plan.|
Note: If you’re under 65 and eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or End Stage Renal Disease, you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months.
Keep in mind you must be enrolled in Medicare before you can purchase other coverage to help pick up where Medicare leaves off, for extra protection. If you’re turning 65, the best time to enroll in Medicare is during the three months before your 65th birthday. This can help ensure that you can enroll in other coverage options and have benefits ready when you turn 65.
Enrolling in Medicare
When to enroll
Your Initial Enrollment Period is a seven-month timeframe. It includes:
- The three months before the month you turn 65,
- Your birth month, and
- The three months after your birth month.
What you'll need
- An original or certified copy of your birth certificate,
- Any W-2 forms you have from the last two years, and
- Your Social Security card or number.
How to enroll
- Visit the Social Security Administration office nearest you, or
- Call toll-free 1-800-772-1213, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to request an application
- Once completed, you’ll receive your red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail.