Apply for Medicare

The exact process for signing up for Medicare changes depending on which group you belong to. Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare, while others have to sign up individually. Read below to understand how to apply for Medicare based on which group you belong to. 

Turning 65

If you are about to turn 65 and are not already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RBR) benefits, there are three ways to apply, online, over the phone or in person. You have a 7-month window to contact Social Security and Medicare – three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and three months after your birthday month. This 7-month window is referred to as the Initial Enrollment Period. 

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you will have to wait until the General Enrollment Period between January 1 and March 31 of each year. Your coverage will then begin on July 1 of that year. You may be subject to a higher premium.

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Social Security or RRB benefits

If you are already receiving these benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Part A and B of Medicare on the first day of your birthday month. This is true unless you live in Puerto Rico, in which case you are only automatically enrolled in Part A and must sign up for Part B yourself.

Under 65 with a disability:

If you are already receiving social security for a disability, you are automatically enrolled in Parts A and B. If you are not receiving social security for a disability but have been eligible for at least 24 non-consecutive months, contact Social Security to apply for Social Security and Medicare. 

When should I apply?

Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare. Others have to first contact Social Security in order to sign up for Medicare. Whatever the case, all Medicare consumers will receive their card and “Welcome to Medicare” packet in the mail. Many will have to choose between different plans. While this process can be confusing, our resources can help you make the best decision for you.