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Signing up for Medicare

When should I apply?

If you are already getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits or railroad retirement checks, you will be contacted a few months before you become eligible for Medicare and given the information you need. You will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down.

If you are not already getting retirement benefits, you should contact us about three months before your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare. You can sign up for Medicare even if you do not plan to retire at age 65.

Once you are enrolled in Medicare, you will receive a red, white and blue Medicare card showing whether you have Part A, Part B or both. Keep your card in a safe place so you will have it when
you need it. If your card is ever lost or stolen, you can apply for a replacement card or call Social Security’s toll-free number. You will also receive a Medicare & You (Publication No. CMS-10050) handbook hat describes your Medicare benefits and Medicare plan choices.

Special enrollment situations

You also should contact Social Security about applying for Medicare if:

  • You are a disabled widow or widower between age 50 and age 65, but have not applied for disability benefits because you are already getting another kind of Social Security benefit;

  • You are a government employee and became disabled before age 65;

  • You, your spouse or your dependent child has permanent kidney failure;

  • You had Medicare medical insurance in the past but dropped the coverage; or

  • You turned down Medicare medical insurance when you became entitled to hospital insurance (Part A).

Initial enrollment period for Part B

When you first become eligible for hospital insurance (Part A), you have a seven-month period (your initial enrollment period) in which to sign up for medical insurance (Part B). A delay on your part will cause a delay in coverage and result in higher premiums. If you are eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65 and ends three months after that birthday. If you are eligible for Medicare based on disability or permanent kidney failure, your initial enrollment period depends on the date your disability or treatment began.

When does my enrollment in Part B become effective?

If you accept the automatic enrollment in Medicare Part B, or if you enroll in Medicare Part B during the first three months of your initial enrollment period, your medical insurance protection will start with the month you are first eligible. If you enroll during the last four months, your protection will start from one to three months after you enroll.

The following chart shows when your Medicare Part B becomes effective:

If you enroll
in this month of your Initial enrollment period:

your Part B Medicare coverage starts:

The month you become eligible for Medicare
The month you become eligible for Medicare
The month you become eligible for Medicare
One month after enrollment
Two months after enrollment
Three months after enrollment
Three months after enrollment

General enrollment period for Part B

If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a "general enrollment period" from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins the following July. However, your monthly premium increases 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for, but did not enroll in, Medicare Part B.

Special enrollment period for people covered under an employer group health plan

If you are 65 or older and are covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse's current employment, you have a "special enrollment period" in which to sign up for Medicare Part B. This means that you may delay enrolling in Medicare Part B without having to wait for a general enrollment period and paying the 10 percent premium surcharge for late enrollment. The rules allow you to:

  • Enroll in Medicare Part B any time while you are covered under the group health plan based on current employment; or
  • Enroll in Medicare Part B during the eight-month period that begins with the month your group health coverage ends, or the month employment ends - whichever comes first.

Special enrollment period rules do not apply if employment or employer-provided group health plan coverage ends during your initial enrollment period.

If you do not enroll by the end of the eight-month period, you will have to wait until the next general enrollment period, which begins January 1 of the next year. You also may have to pay a higher premium, as described in General enrollment period for Part B.

People who receive Social Security disability benefits and are covered under a group health plan from either their own or a family member's current employment also have a special enrollment period and premium rights that are similar to those for workers age 65 or older.

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There are 14 Comments


I am 25 years old and am in renal failure due to being born with kidney disease. The Davita center where I received my diaysis said that I am medicare pending but have done nothing to help me with this step other than saying it is not a problem! I began dialysis in August and signed a 2728 form on September 8, 2008 and there is no evidence of anything being done . I have been actively working to get a transplant, my sister has been screened to be a donor and I would like to be a productive person again. I do have a job but my insurance does not cover this pre exisitring condiditon. It would be healthier for me to get the transplant and cheaper in the long run than pay the Davita center for the dialysis. Can you be of assistance.

I am presently employed and on a healthcare plan through my office, but I will retire in December, and would like to sign up for medicare. I am presently on Medicare Part A and receive Social Security payments. How do I sign up for Part B?

I am 30 years old and trying to get my disability due to my 3 back surgerys. Should I fill for Medicare?

If you're not yet age 65, in general, you are eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance if you have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months (in most cases).

I will be 65 years old next month(January). I do not have enough quarters to receive Social Security, However, I have enough quarters to receive medicare, in fact, I am retired (State) and work part-time and medicare payments are being taken out of the meager earnings that I receive.

When I ask the local ssa officials in my hometown about applying for medicare, I was told since I did not have enough quarters for Social Security I could not collect medicare.

Something about this does not sound accurate.
I do not have money to hire a lawyer, What's my next move?

P.S. My husband was turned down for the same reason, although his yearly statement says he has enough credit for medicare. He is 72 years old and gravely ill. Please advise.

I just turned 67 and you have been deducting $96.40 from my Social Security check every month. Why am I forced to pay this amount of money every month when I am covered under my husbands health insurance? I was told by a female representative from Social Security that it was a law and I had to let them deduct this money. Why, I don't need it at this time. I can use that $96.40 elsewhere.Thank You!

i am 65 working. i applied got a and b why are my premiums so high. i am paying, $ 482.00 for 3/ 01 2009 - 05/31/2009. if i get another ins. it will be more.
what should i do. does social security pay for all cost, or do i need another ins. i don't understand. nancy

Most people age 65 or older who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance (Part A).

Anyone who is eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) can enroll in Medicare medical insurance (Part B) by paying a monthly premium.

For details, see

I am 65 years old, and will be 66 in October, 2009. I am still working full-time in the HHC and have my own medical coverage. Can I still get medicare benefits?

I never received a letter stating that I needed to sign up for Medicare because I have primary insurance from my current job and secondary insurance from a former job. However, on May 15, I received a letter from the state of IL, which offers me secondary insurance, stating that I was automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B as of April 10. My birthday is in 1945. I called the CMS Group insurance division for the state of IL and was told I needed to provide a letter from my current employer, stating that I carried primary insurance from them. I did send them this information on May 5. Today (June 5), I received a letterr from the Medicare COB Unit of the state of IL. stating that I need written documentation from the Social Security Administration, indicating my eligibility for Medicare. Please let me know what I need to do as it is urgent that I settle this matter ASAP. Thanks. dsk

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