Medicare Enrollment

Find Out If and When You Need to Sign Up

As you approach retirement or your 65th birthday, it’s important to learn about eligibility and age requirements to enroll in the Medicare program.

Most people are eligible for Medicare because they are age 65 or older. Others qualify before that due to disabilities. Regardless of how you became eligible, you will need to manually sign up for benefits if you aren’t enrolled automatically. 

When to Start Exploring Your Medicare Options

It is good to begin thinking about Medicare about 6 months before you turn 65.

You become eligible for Medicare the first day of the month you turn 65. You can sign up during the 3 months before or after your 65th birthday—which is called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

You Can Add Additional Coverage

When you are newly eligible for Medicare, you may also apply for a supplemental Medicare plan from a private insurance carrier. A supplemental Medicare plan can help pay some of the health care costs that Part A and Part D don’t cover. Examples are Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement (Medigap), and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

If you decide to add additional coverage offered by a private carrier, you can enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period or annually during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP).

  • The IEP for Medigap plans is the 6-month period that begins the month of your 65th birthday.
  • AEP is from October 15 to December 7 each year.

Do I Get Medicare Automatically?

Anybody who receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits is automatically enrolled in Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (coverage for doctor visits and outpatient care). Parts A and B are known as Original Medicare.

If you need to sign up for Part A and/or Part B, you can do so online, over the phone, or in-person at your local Social Security office.

You can also enroll in a Medicare Part D plan (coverage for prescriptions) at the same time to avoid a penalty if you delay enrollment. Part D plans are offered by private insurers.

Other Enrollment Periods to Know

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up for Medicare during the General Enrollment Period (though a late penalty may apply).

  • General Enrollment – This period starts on January 1 and ends March 31 each year. If you enroll during this timeframe, your coverage will start on July 1. 
  • Special Enrollment – Special enrollment periods are offered to anyone who is facing specific life circumstances that may have prevented them from enrolling at another time. For example, if you change where you live or lost employer-sponsored coverage when you became eligible for Medicare, you may be granted a Special Enrollment Period to sign up without a penalty.

Get Help with Medicare Enrollment

The different enrollment periods for Medicare can be confusing. If you would like guidance from a licensed professional, reach out to Overton Agency. We are trained to help people like you enroll in Medicare on time to avoid paying a penalty!