There are 2 ways to enroll in Medicare:
- Automatic Enrollment
- Applying for Medicare
If you are already receiving Social Security Retirement or Railroad Retirement benefits before reaching age 65, you do not need to apply for Medicare. You will be automatically enrolled in both Part A and Part B upon reaching age 65.
About 3 months before your 65th birthday, you should receive an initial enrollment period package in the mail, notifying you of your enrollment in Medicare.
If SSA determines that you are disabled, you will automatically be enrolled in both Part A and Part B, beginning with the 25th month that you are eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.
If you are on dialysis or have ALS, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare when your disability benefits start.
If you do not want Part B benefits, you must notify Social Security in writing to decline the coverage.
Applying for Medicare
If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare as described earlier, you will need to apply. Your application must be made during a 7-month period based on when you turn age 65. Your 7-month period includes the month you turn 65 and the 3 months before and after it.
If you do not enroll within this 7-month period, you must wait until the next general enrollment period. This period is January 1 through March 31 of each year. If you do not enroll until the next general enrollment period, your Part B coverage will not start until the following July.
In addition, for each year you wait to enroll after you first became eligible to enroll, your Part B premium will increase by 10%. Therefore, it is important to apply for Medicare when you first become eligible.
In certain cases, you are allowed to delay enrolling in Part B without penalty. You can do this under the following circumstances:
- You are age 65 or over and you have group health insurance based on your own or your spouse's current employment; or
- You are disabled, and you have group health insurance based on your current employment, or the current employment of a family member.
- In these cases, you can enroll in Part B at any time that you are covered by the other health plan, or within 8 months after the end of employment or the coverage, whichever is earlier.