How do I sign up for Medicare? When is the best time to enroll? How much does Medicare cost? Can I apply online?
Enrolling in Medicare isn’t difficult. You can apply online, over the phone (800-772-1213), or in person at a local Social Security office.
How Do I Sign Up For Medicare?
If you have computer access, the easiest way to apply for Medicare is online. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/
You can enroll 3 months before your birthday, the month you turn 65, and the 3 months after your birthday.
When is Medicare Effective?
Most people will start Medicare on the 1st of the month they turn 65. If your birthday is on the first of the month your Medicare benefits begin the first of the month prior.
If your birthday is January 1, you start Medicare December 1 of the year prior. If you turn 65 July 1, your benefits start June 1.
It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s the government way of doing things.
The folks at Medicare provide this handy chart that explains your start date in Rube Goldberg fashion.
|If you sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and/or Part B in this month:||Your coverage starts:|
|The month you turn 65||1 month after you sign up|
|1 month after you turn 65||2 months after you sign up|
|2 months after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
|3 months after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
|During the January 1–March 31 General Enrollment Period||July 1|
If you notice there is a Catch-22 in the sign up time table. If you turn 65 in May and sign up for Medicare in May your benefit starts in June. If your 65th birthday is in May and you sign up in June, your coverage starts in August.
Am I Automatically Enrolled in Medicare at 65?
If you are receiving Social Security, you will automatically be signed up for Medicare at age 65.
Most will have to apply for Medicare on their own.
If you choose to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B you may do at a future time. But if your enrollment is not done correctly you could have gap in your coverage, pay a late enrollment penalty, or both.
If you enroll during the GEP (General Enrollment Period) your coverage will not begin until July 1st of that year.
If you have an HSA (Health Savings Account) then if you enroll in Medicare it may impact your ability to make deposits to the account.
Employer Group Health Insurance
Special situations apply when you have access to employer group health insurance. The rules are the same whether the plan is offered by your employer, or your spouse.
You may want to delay Part B if the employer has 20 or more employees.
It is possible to postpone Part B and avoid late enrollment penalties. Just don’t get caught in the COBRA trap.
If you are already enrolled in Medicare Part A and you want to sign up for Medicare Part B, please complete form CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (medical insurance). If you are applying for Medicare Part B due to a loss of employment or group health coverage, you will also need to complete form CMS-L564, Request for Employment Information.
Applying for Medicare is Easy
It is easy to sign up for Medicare as long as you know the rules and follow them. Otherwise it can be complicated.
Hardly a week goes by when someone doesn’t call to ask questions about how to sign up for Medicare.
Don’t just assume you can apply anytime without penalty or delay. It doesn’t work that way.
This is a government program. The process isn’t logical nor intuitive. Sign up for Medicare and get it right the first time.
Ask an expert.
A Georgia Medicare expert. Call or email.
Do I have to sign up for Medicare at age 65?
Most will enroll at age 65. You may also apply during the annual GEP (General Enrollment Period) or when you have an SEP (Special Enrollment Period). Applying for coverage during the GEP often creates a gap in coverage and a late enrollment penalty. Applying for Medicare after COBRA ends may also create problems such as the COBRA trap.
What is the Medicare COBRA trap?
Some folks will delay their Medicare coverage and opt for COBRA. Their reasons may vary, including a younger spouse that is not yet eligible for Medicare. Many are not aware that loss of employer group health creates a COBRA option for EACH covered participant. This video explains the COBRA trap.
Can I sign up for Medicare at a Social Security office?
You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. Learn more about your Medicare card.
You may also enroll by phone if you wish.
Call us at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Can I drop employer group health and just have Medicare?
Your employer group plan can continue past age 65 as long as you are a full time employee. In most cases you do not need employer group health AND Medicare. You may also choose to enroll in Medicare and drop your group health plan if your employer allows you to do so.
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