1. Sign up
To apply for Medicare, contact your local Social Security office or US Railroad Retirement Board office (find the field office in your area). There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done.
This benefits planner can help you apply online for Medicare.
- You must be at least 61 years and 9 months old to apply for retirement benefits;
- If you are already age 62, you may be able to start your benefits in the month you apply;
- You should apply for benefits no more than four months before the date you want your benefits to start;
- Benefits are paid the month after they are due; (If your benefits start in April, you will receive your first benefit payment in May.)
- If you are not getting Social Security and you are not ready to retire, you should still use our online retirement benefit application to sign up for just Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.
2. Wait for a response
There are no forms to sign, and usually, no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if they need more information. Otherwise, you will receive your Medicare card in the mail. Make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security or call (800) 772-1213.
Early application is recommended to avoid gaps in coverage. The late enrollment penalty is avoided if the delay is because the beneficiary is enrolled in employer-based insurance coverage.
If you already have a card, you'll be getting anew Medicare card in order to remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards. This will help keep your information more secure and protect your identity.
Updated: April 2018