When Am I Eligible to Enroll in Medicare?

How to enroll in Medicare is quite simple.  However, there are deadlines that need to be adhered to in order to avoid penalties imposed by the government.  Original Medicare coverage is defined in parts, such as “Medicare Part A”, which is your hospitalization coverage, and “Medicare Part B”, which is your physician coverage. Medicare Parts A and B are administered by the Social Security Administration.  For the most part, any United States citizen who is 65 years of age or older is eligible to enroll Medicare.  There are two scenarios, or situations, to consider when determining when and how to enroll in Medicare.  These scenarios are set forth below: 

How Do I Enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B?

Scenario No. 1:  If you are already receiving social security checks and are nearing your 65th birthday, then enrollment in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B is automatic.  It is that simple.  You should receive your Initial Enrollment Kit, which will include your Medicare cards, approximately three months prior to your 65th birthday.  Your benefits will become effective the first day of the month of your birthday.  For example, if your birthday is July 22, your Medicare benefits should be effective July 1.  

Scenario No. 2:  If you are not already receiving social security checks, then you can enroll in original Medicare one of the three following ways:

  • By calling the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213; or
  • By enrolling online through the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov
  • By visiting a local Social Security Administration office. 

When you are nearing your 65th birthday your Initial Enrollment Period (also known as “IEP”) begins.  It is recommended that you enroll in Medicare during your IEP to avoid any late enrollment penalties.  Your IEP starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after, for a total enrollment period of seven months.  During your IEP you can enroll in the Medicare parts you determine you want or need.  This includes Medicare Part A and/or Part B.    

If you are an individual who is already receiving Social Security checks you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Typically, Medicare Part A does not carry a premium; however, Medicare Part B’s standard 2013 premium is $104.90.  If you determine you do not want Medicare Part B you can follow the instructions that come with the card and send it back.  You should be cautious if you are thinking about opting out of Medicare Part B.  Medicare Part B covers many services including your doctor visits.  If you choose to delay Medicare Part B you may be charged a penalty when you enroll again.  If you keep Part B your premium will be automatically deducted from your Social Security check.

Please note:  Your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B premiums may be different if you or your spouse have not worked in the U.S. for 10 years.   Your premium also may be more or less based on your income.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility or original Medicare Parts A and/or B, you can find more information on the Social Security Administration’s website, or by calling the Social Security Administration. 


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