Enrolling into Medicare
When enrolling into Medicare there are numerous options, and it all comes down to your own personal situation.
The 1st situation – You are already receiving Social Security benefits: It’s automatic!
If you are already receiving Social Security benefits and have become Medicare eligible as you are turning 65 years old, enrollment into Medicare Parts A and B is automatic. There is no need to sign up!
You will receive your Medicare card as well as a “Welcome to Medicare” kit, typically, 3 to 4 months before your 65th birthday. According to the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) “if your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month”.
The second situation – You are turning 65 and are not receiving Social Security benefits: You have to sign up.
If you are not already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits and you are turning 65, you will need to sign up through Social Security to get Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical insurance). You won't get into-Medicare automatically.
The process of signing up for Medicare, according to CMS, is:
- Apply online at Social Security. If you started your online application and have your re-entry number, you can go back to Social Security to finish your application.
- Visit your local Social Security office. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
- If you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772.
- If you already have Part A and want to sign up for Part B, complete an Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B). Get this form and instructions in Spanish.
“About 2 weeks after you sign up for Medicare or Social Security benefits, Medicare will send you a "Welcome to Medicare" packet along with your red, white, and blue Medicare card. You'll still have other important deadlines and actions to take, so read all of the materials in the packet”.
The 3rd situation – You are turning 65 but will continue to work and are not receiving Social Security benefits: There are options.
Again, if you are not already receiving Social Security or Railroad retirement Board benefits you will need to enroll into Medicare. However, if you have creditable health coverage through your or your spouse’s employer, you do not need to sign up. Creditable health coverage is any employer health plan that meets the requirements as defined by the IRS and covers at least 20 or more employees.
You may still want to consider enrolling into Medicare Part A as it is premium free and will act as back-up coverage to your employer plan – think broader coverage!
The 4th situation – You are leaving your creditable employer health plan, you are older than 65 and are not receiving Social Security benefits: You MUST sign up.
When you leave most employer health plans there typically is the option for health coverage through COBRA. Unfortunately, Medicare does not recognize COBRA health insurance as creditable. This means you must enroll into Medicare to avoid any late enrollment penalties.
You have 8 months to enroll into Medicare Part A and Part B from the point your employer health coverage ends.
The process of signing up for Medicare is the same as if you are turning 65 and are not receiving Social Security benefits.
The 5th situation – You are not receiving Social Security benefits and have not signed up at age 65.
Unfortunately, you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You can sign up during the General Enrollment Period between January 1 – March 31 each year.
Coverage will begin July 1 of that year and you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty for Part B and possibly Part D (prescription drug coverage.
Between April 1 – June 30 you will be able to enroll into Part D (prescription drug coverage).
If you have further questions on enrollment, please feel free to contact:
- The Centers for Medicare Services at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
- Your local Social Security office – locations can be found https://www.ssa.gov/locator/
Source: The official website of the U.S. Government, Medicare.gov.