Medicare Enrollment

These are the crucial steps to get you through the Medicare enrollment process.

Lewis Mark
Published on
December 6, 2023
Updated on
March 4, 2024

Are you close to your 65th birthday, or nearing the 25th month of receiving disability benefits? If you are, it sounds like you may be eligible for Medicare. If you’re unsure of what to do or are wondering what comes next, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the Medicare enrollment process.

How To Enroll In Medicare

There are a number of different ways you can enroll in Medicare, but here are the primary methods for turning in your application.

  • You can enroll in Medicare by logging onto the official Social Security website.
  • You can submit your Medicare enrollment application by contacting the Social Security Administration Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can contact the Social Security Administration using the telephone number 1-800-0778.
  • You can also apply for Medicare in person at any local Social Security Administration office.
  • If you were an employee of a railroad company, you can enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)using their toll-free number 1-877-772-5772. TTY users can contact the RRB using the telephone number 1-312-751-4701. The RRB is available to take calls from Monday through Friday between 9 AM to 3:30 PM.

Are You Automatically Enrolled In Medicare When You Turn 65?

There are some situations where you can be enrolled in Medicare automatically when you turn 65 years old. However, to be automatically enrolled, you must already be receiving Social Security Benefits. Otherwise, you may have to go through the Medicare enrollment process on your own.

Medicare Initial Enrollment

Most of the population is required to sign up for Medicare when they are about to turn 65, or sometime thereafter. If you are wondering when to apply for Medicare, you can sign up as early as three months before you turn 65 years old. This initial enrollment period extends over a seven month period and includes:

  • 3 months before your birthday
  • The month of your birthday.
  • 3 months after your birthday has passed.

The start date of your Part B Medicare coverage will depend on a number of factors, but you can ask your Medicare representative when you apply for Medicare. If you do not wish to apply for your Social Security benefits yet, you can apply for Medicare by going to the Social Security Administration website.

Medicare Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment Period, also known as the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), occurs every year from October 15 to December 7. During this time, Medicare recipients are able to make a number of changes to their policies without having a penalty imposed on them.

  • Any person who has both Medicare Part A and Part B are able to switch to a Part C plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Any person who has Medicare Part C is able to leave their plan to switch back to a Medicare Part A and Part B plan.
  • Anyone who currently has, or who is currently signing up for Medicare Parts A or B can join, drop, or switch a Part D plan.
  • Anyone who has a Medicare Part C plan is able to switch to a new Part C plan.
  • The changes made to any Medicare plan will take effect on January of the following calendar year.

There are other enrollment periods throughout the year that allow you to make changes in your insurance policy.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

The Annual Enrollment Period, also known as Medicare Open Enrollment or Annual Election Period, allows Medicare members to make changes in their current medical or prescription coverage.

Medicare recipients can add a Part C coverage, or switch to original Medicare to receive their healthcare coverage, but what options do Medicare members have during Medicare Open Enrollment? Here are the primary changes to make during Medicare Open Enrollment:

  • Switch from a stand-alone Part D Medicare plan to another.
  • Switch from one type of Medicare Advantage plan to another plan.
  • Change from traditional Medicare Parts A and B to a Medicare Part C plan.
  • Change from a Part C plan to a traditional Medicare policy.
  • Enroll in a Part D plan if they are changing from a Medicare Advantage plan to traditional Medicare.
  • Enroll in a Part D plan if they previously opted out of this type of coverage.

The changes that are made during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period will become effective for all members on January 1 of the following year.

Applying For Medicare

For the majority of the American population, enrolling in Medicare Part A happens automatically. However, there are several reasons you may be required to enroll in Medicare Part A and B on your own. This enrollment should take place during your initial enrollment period, which was outlined above. However, to avoid penalties, you will need to know when to turn in your Medicare enrollment. Here is when you would need to manually enroll in Medicare.

  1. If you are not currently receiving retirement benefits, but you are close to turning 65 years old, you can sign up for Medicare Part A and B during your Initial Enrollment Period. If you decide to wait beyond 65 years old to apply for Social Security Benefits, you can apply for Medicare alone and apply for your Social Security Benefits at a later date.
  2. If you do not qualify for Social Security Retirement Benefits, you will not be enrolled in Medicare automatically. You also may not qualify for a Medicare policy that is premium free. The amount of your Medicare premium will depend on how long you paid into the Medicare system, and whether or your spouse paid into the system long enough to help you qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.
  3. If the insurance company that you have been receiving your Medicare Part C insurance through will not be contracting with Medicare the following year, you will need to switch providers during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, or Annual Enrollment Period.

What You Need To Apply For Medicare

When you are ready for Medicare enrollment, you should do so during your initial enrollment period. You should not wait until the Medicare Open Enrollment or the Annual Enrollment Period.

After you have decided when to apply for Medicare, you should collect all the necessary information and documents needed for the Medicare enrollment process. So what information will you need for your Medicare enrollment?

  • Date and place of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Name, date of birth, and social security number of any former spouse.
  • Date of divorce, death, and place of death of any previous spouse.
  • Names of any unmarried children under the age of 18.
  • Names of any children between the ages of 18 and 19 who are in secondary school.
  • Names of any children who were disabled before the age of 22.
  • The Routing Transit Number for your bank, and your Bank account number in the form required for direct deposit.
  • Information concerning your citizenship.
  • Any information about previous attempts to file for Social Security Benefits, Medicare, or Social Security Income.
  • You will also be asked to provide information about whose Social Security record you applied under.
  • A determination of whether you plan to apply for Part B.

This information will not be required if you are making a plan change during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. The most important factor is that you follow the guidelines of when to apply for Medicare and that you use the appropriate method of Medicare enrollment.

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