How to Apply for Medicare

Filing for Medicare is simple. You can apply online, by phone or in person at the Social Security office.

Applying for Medicare can feel daunting, but your Medicare enrollment will be easier with us helping you, and our services cost you nothing. We walk hundreds of people through how to sign-up for Medicare every year, so continue reading on for everything you need to know to apply for Medicare.

The Social Security Administration handles Medicare eligibility and applications for Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (outpatient medical insurance). They offer several easy options so you can choose how to apply for Medicare. If you are aging into Medicare, you may apply as early as 3 months prior to the month of your 65th birthday. You’ll find that getting started early is a plus so that you’ll have your new Medicare card in hand before your effective date.

This is your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period to enroll in Parts A and B. (It is also your enrollment period for Part D. Since prescription drugs are not covered by Original Medicare, you purchase Part D separately from an insurance company. You do not enroll in it through Social Security because Part D is voluntary.)

Next, we’ll cover when to apply for Medicare.
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When to Apply for Medicare

Medicare is separate from your application for Social Security income benefits. People age into Medicare at age 65, regardless of whether they are taking retirement income benefits yet. If you are a citizen age 65 or older and need medical insurance, you are entitled to enroll in Medicare. You can also qualify for Medicare early due to certain disabilities, having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), or End-Stage Renal disease (ESRD) and need a transplant or on dialysis.

Don’t plan on Medicare reminding you to enroll when it’s time to sign-up either. This can be especially important for those who live out of the country.

If you are already taking Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. Your card should arrive 1-2 months before you turn 65. This time horizon also applies to those who qualify early due to disability. However, you will not automatically receive Part B benefits if you live in Puerto Rico. This means you will need to apply for Part B even if you receive Social Security benefits before age 65.

If you are NOT yet taking retirement benefits, then you will need to submit a Medicare application yourself. The government assumes you’ll know when to enroll. Before we take a look at the timeline for when and how to register for Medicare, feel free to watch the video below to if you are turning 65 and New to Medicare BUT ARE NOT DRAWING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS (GETTING A SOCIAL SECURITY OR DISABILITY OR RAILROAD CHECK).

Click On The File to View The Employer Group Coverage Form
Click On The File to View the Part B Application


Initial Enrollment Period

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare Parts A, B and D last 7 months. It begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month and runs for 3 months after your birth month. Enrolling in Medicare during your IEP means that you will have no late penalties. There is also no pre-existing condition waiting periods.

When to register for Medicare Parts A, B and D depends on whether Medicare will be your primary coverage, or whether you still have employer coverage.

Starting in 2023, there are changes to Medicare enrollment periods that will help people enroll with fewer gaps in coverage. Two of these changes are to the Initial Enrollment Period and General Enrollment Period.

How has the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) changed in 2023?

If you are turning 65 and you do not have coverage based on current work, it is usually best to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The IEP is the seven-month period that includes the three months before, the month of, and the three months after your 65th birthday. Before 2023, people who enrolled in Medicare during the last three months of their IEP had to wait up to three months before their coverage would begin. Starting in 2023, that gap in cov