Turning 65 is the trigger point for the vast majority of Americans to enroll in Medicare. Since the Social Security Administration (SSA) handles enrollments, you will typically sign up at the Social Security office nearest you or at the Social Security Administration website. Failing to enroll in Medicare on time could cost you, so pay attention to the various enrollment options outlined below to keep from getting hit with a penalty for missing the sign-up window.
Here are the most important things you need to know about when and how to enroll in this federal health insurance program.
This milestone birthday sets the stage for your initial enrollment period (IEP), during which you can enroll in Medicare without fear of facing a penalty for signing up late. Your IEP lasts for seven months: the three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and the three months after. So if your birthday is June 15, you’ll have from March 1 until Sept. 30 to enroll.
If you neglect to sign up during your IEP, you will get another chance to sign up during Medicare’s annual general enrollment period. This lasts from January 1 through March 31 of each year. Starting in 2023, your coverage will begin the month after you enroll during the general enrollment period. But because you are enrolling late, your monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services, will likely be higher.
If you started receiving Social Security benefits before age 65, when you turn 65 you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A (which covers hospitalizations) and Part B. Your monthly premium will be automatically deducted from your monthly Social Security payment.
Note that some people younger than 65 can qualify for Medicare if they receive certain disability benefits or have certain specific conditions, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.