Whether you’ve decided to get coverage through original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, you need to sign up for Parts A and B as the foundation for either option. The way you enroll and the timing depend on your personal situation.
Remember, if you or your spouse is working for a company that has fewer than 20 employees, you should usually sign up for Medicare at age 65 to avoid coverage gaps. Determine what applies to you below and click the link for a step-by-step guide to signing up.
• I’m already receiving Social Security retirement benefits. If so, you’ll be enrolled automatically in Parts A and B of Medicare. (But if you live in Puerto Rico, be aware that the rules for this U.S. territory are different.)
• I’m signing up during my initial enrollment period, the three months before to the three months after the month you turn 65. If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits at 65, you’ll need to enroll in Medicare.
• I’m signing up during a special enrollment period, a time you can enroll in Medicare outside the initial enrollment period when certain conditions are met. For instance, you can sign up for Medicare anytime, as long as you or your spouse is still working and you have coverage from that employer. You also can enroll in Part B up to eight months after you or your spouse stops working and you lose that health insurance. If you miss that eight-month window, you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty or have a gap in coverage.
• I’m signing up during a general enrollment period. If you don’t enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you can do so during the general enrollment period, which runs Jan. 1 to March 31 annually.
As you head to the Social Security website to apply for Parts A and B benefits online, be sure to have handy your group health insurance information (if you have coverage) and your Social Security number.