Applying for Medicare can be scary for people, but your Medicare enrollment will probably be easier than you might think. Keep in mind that Medicare has been around since 1965, and although there are many rules, these rules are put in place to protect you.
Unlike your Employer’s plan, there is no HR or Benefits Department to help you with Medicare enrollment, no one to remind you to get your paperwork done and that can make the process of enrolling in Medicare a bit overwhelming.
The Social Security Administration handles enrollment to Medicare Parts A and B. Keep in mind that Social Security and Medicare are two different programs, and you do not have to apply for Social Security benefits to enroll in Medicare.
There are three ways to apply and enroll in Medicare Parts A and or Part B. You can apply and enroll online at ssa.gov, you can apply and enroll by phone or you can apply and enroll at your local social security office.
This is your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period to enroll in Parts A and B. (It is also your enrollment period for Part D, but you purchase Part D separately from an insurance company. You do not enroll in it through Social Security because Part D is voluntary.)
When to apply for Medicare?
The best time to apply for and enroll in Medicare is 1). when you are turning 65 or 2). when you are coming off a group health plan after age 65.
Most people apply for Medicare when they are turning 65. If you choose to enroll in Medicare when you are turning 65, your Medicare will start the first day of the month you turn 65. You can enroll 3 months before your 65 birthday, the month of your 65 birthday or 3 months after your 65 birthday.
If you are still working, or if you are covered through an employer’s group health plan, you can delay enrollment until you are ready to come off the employer’s plan.
Those who are already receiving Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, will be automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. Your card should arrive 1- 2 months before you turn 65.
You will also want to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan. Unlike enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B, which is done through the Social Security Administration, to enroll in Part D, you purchase a plan from an insurance company.
If you are NOT taking a Social Security retirement benefit, you will need to submit a Medicare application.
How to apply online for Medicare
You can apply for Medicare by completing the on-line application on Social Security’s website, www.ssa.gov. Applying online is quick and convenient, as you can do it anytime and any day of the week.
How to sign up for Medicare online
If you choose this option, make sure you enter the correct spelling of your name, as it appears on your Social Security card and you know what city or town you were born in.
You should keep a copy of the confirmation of your enrollment, and if you set up a password, you will be able to check your application online.
Those born outside of the United States will need to send their original birth certificate in as part of the application, so this may not be the best option.
How to apply for Medicare by phone
Applying for Medicare by phone is easy and you will actually talk to a live person. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, and tell the them you want to apply for Medicare.
How to sign up for Medicare by phone
A Social Security Representative may be able to take your application right away, but if call volume is heavy, they will schedule a phone appointment with you.
How to apply for Medicare in person
You can sign up for medicare at your local Social Security Administration office.
You can apply for Medicare in person at your local Social Security office.
This is the best option for those who are close to tuning 65, and need the get your application processed quickly. You should ask for a printout showing you applied for Parts A and B so that you can enroll in your Part D drug plan.
For those with special circumstances, like those born outside of the United States, or those over age 65 and coming from a group health plan, it is recommended that you apply in person so you can obtain any necessary forms to be completed.
Applying for Medicare Frequently Asked Questions
There is no notification from Medicare or Social Security to advise you that it’s time to enroll in Medicare.
However, if you are already receiving a Social Security benefit you will receive your Red, White and Blue Medicare card in the mail 1-2 months prior to your 65th birthday.
Those who are not receiving a Social Security benefit will need to apply.
How soon can I apply for Medicare?
You can apply for Medicare 3 months before, the month of, and three months after your 65 Birthday.
When is open enrollment for Medicare?
The best time to enroll in a Medicare plan is during your Open Enrollment period. Unlike group health plans Open Enrollment periods, your Medicare Open Enrollment is based on your Birthday. It’s a seven-month window that begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month.
This is different than Medicare’s Annual Enrollment (AEP), which is in the fall of each year. The Medicare AEP is when you can change your Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan.
When will I receive my Medicare card?
Those who are already receiving Social Security Benefits before they turn 65 will receive their Medicare card about 2-3 months before their 65th birthday.
If you are not receiving a Social Security Benefit, you must apply for it and you will receive your Red, White, and Blue Medicare card about 2-3 weeks after you apply for Medicare.
Do I need to re-apply for Medicare every year?
You do not need to apply for Medicare every single year, your Medicare Parts A and B will automatically renew as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
Additionally, you are eligible to change and enroll in a different Part D plan each year during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
What else do I need to do after enrolling in Medicare?
Applying for Medicare is your first step. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover all your medical costs, and your cost sharing could be significant.
Working with an experienced independent agent will help you complete your Medicare coverage.
Don’t go it alone…
We can help you understand how Medicare works, walk you through the timelines of Medicare, and help you find the best Medicare Supplement Plan for you.
If Medicare will be your primary insurance, and you’d like a personal guide to take you from applying for Medicare all the way through to setting up your Medigap and Part D plans, we are your go-to source for help.
Our service is free, and afterward you also get access to our Client Service Team for free for the life of your policy.
Let us help you take the scare out of going on Medicare! Give us a call at 1 (844) 280-0785.