Health

How to sign up for Medicare

When you’re close to turning 65, your world begins to fill up with all things Medicare. All of these advertisements and booklets appear, and all you want to know is the basics, like how you’re supposed to sign up in the first place.

Medicare is made up of two parts known as Part A and Part B. You apply for Medicare through the Social Security office. You become eligible to sign up for Medicare at age 65, but there are some things you need to know before you get started.

Medicare is separate from Social Security benefits, and there are specific time frames you should be aware of so that you don’t run into any issues. Visit Boomer Benefits – applying for Medicare when the time comes to take those first steps into the Medicare world. Here is an overview of what you need to know:

Medicare Parts A and B with Social Security Benefits

If you start receiving Social Security at least four months before your 65th birthday month, you don’t have to worry about applying for Medicare because you will be auto-enrolled. Your Medicare card should come by mail sometime before your birthday as well.

Not taking Social Security benefits yet?

You must submit a Medicare application yourself if you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits.

Ways to sign up

You can sign up for Medicare by phone, online, or in person at your local Social Security office. Your Original Medicare enrollment is handled by the Social Security Administration, not Medicare.

Your Initial Enrollment Period

Enrolling in Medicare around your 65th birthday means you are applying during what is known as your “Initial Enrollment Period.” This is a 7-month window based around your 65th birthday month to sign up for Part A and B. This period opens three months before your birthday month and ends three months after.

However, there is an exception. If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, this window will begin a month early.

Avoid penalties!

The thing about Medicare is there are consequences for not signing up. If you miss the deadline of when you need to apply, you will incur a life-long penalty for all the time you could have been enrolled but chose not to do so.

If you provide proof of creditable coverage for Part B, you can avoid the penalty. Creditable coverage for Original Medicare is active employer insurance from an employer with 20+ employees.

Special Enrollment Period

If you plan to work past 65, you can delay Medicare until you’re ready to retire or lose active employer coverage. Once the time comes, you will be given an 8-month window from the day you lose coverage to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B.

General Enrollment Period

You may not know that you cannot sign up for Medicare at any time. If you don’t enroll when you first turn 65 or during a special enrollment period, you will need to wait until the General Enrollment Period. This window to enroll in Medicare begins on January 1 and ends on March 31.

Cost of Medicare

Signing up for Medicare at the right time is the first step, but it is not just about the application itself. Since Medicare is not free and does not pay for everything, there are costs to prepare for. Many beneficiaries are fully or partially retired, so their income tends to be lower than when they were in the workforce full-time.

As you age, you tend to develop more healthcare needs, so being financially prepared for your medical costs under Medicare can help you avoid falling into medical debt. Choosing the right supplemental plan with your Medicare benefits can help bridge the gap of out-of-pocket expenses you’ll face so you can focus on your health and enjoy your retirement.

Final thoughts

If you take away anything from this, let it be that you should figure out which window you need to apply for Medicare and what additional option you want so you can sign up during the right time for that as well. Medicare can be a confusing transition sometimes, but it becomes easier once you understand your timeline and how Medicare functions.

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