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Section 5: ready to enroll 
 

How to Sign Up During Your Initial Enrollment Period

You’ll need to decide whether to enroll in Part A alone or Parts A and B 

 

ESTIMATED READ TIME: 4 MINUTES

  

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

• Step by step through the online process

• How to pay your Part B premiums

If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits yet, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare. Most people eligible for Social Security have decided to delay receiving it until after they reach 65.

 

You can enroll in Medicare during your seven-month initial enrollment period, which starts on the first day of the month three months before the month you turn 65 and lasts for the entire three months afterward. Most people enroll in Parts A and B, but you may decide to sign up for just Part A.

 

You can delay enrolling in Part B if you or your spouse is still working and either of you has health insurance from an employer with 20 or more employees. Remember this job-based coverage from a current employer — not retiree health insurance or COBRA, which allows most people to stay on their company’s insurance plan for up to 18 months after they leave their job — is what will allow you to defer signing up for Part B.
 

If you don’t want to sign up online using the instructions below, you may be able to apply at a local Social Security office. Social Security offices opened April 7 after being closed except for emergency cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid long lines, officials hope you’ll try to apply online. Otherwise, contact your local office to schedule an appointment or call Social Security at 800-772-1213.

 

STEP BY STEP THROUGH THE ONLINE PROCESS

 

1. To sign up, visit the Social Security Administration website. Click the “Apply for Medicare Only button.
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare application website introduction page explaining how to apply online for just medicare. The apply for medicare only button is circled in red


2. You’ll need to accept the terms of service.
After you’ve done that, click “Next.” On the Apply for Benefits page, choose “Start a New Application.” Note that you will be asked to sign in to your online Social Security account or create one.
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare online application apply for benefits page. A buttons reading start a new application is circled in red


3. On the next screen,
indicate whether you have an online Social Security account.
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare online application page where you choose if you are apply for yourself or helping someone else. The field to choose if you already have a my social security account is circled in red


4. If you have an online Social Security account,
you’ll need to log in.
 

screenshot of the login screen for my social security


5. After you’ve logged in
to your account, you’ll need to provide personal information.
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare application website information page where the user puts in their name, social security number and date of birth


6. On the next screen, you’ll need to answer a question about your Medicare application. Click “Yes.”
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare application website page asking if you wish to apply for medicare only but not for monthly retirement cash benefits. The answer yes is circled in red


7. If you want to sign up for Part B
benefits in addition to Part A, click “Yes.”
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare application website page asking want to enroll in Medicare Part B


8. Now provide information
about your group health plan, employment and health insurance.
 

9. After you’ve answered those questions, you’ll be ready to sign your application. Check the box and click the “Submit Now” button. You’ll receive a receipt that you can print and keep for your records. You’ll also get a number you can use to check on the status of your application.
 

screenshot of the social security administrations medicare application website electronic signature agreement showing the agreement terms and conditions and where to check if you agree with the electronic signature agreement


About two weeks after you sign up, you’ll get your Medicare card in the mail, along with your Welcome to Medicare package.
 

a sample of what a medicare health insurance card looks like


Starting on the date listed on the front of the card, you should bring the card to all your doctor’s appointments and to the hospital.


Updated April 7, 2022
 

If You Receive Social Security Benefits Now
How to Sign Up During a Special Enrollment Period