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Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

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Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare

Most often, we need to know how and when to enroll ourselves in Medicare to be benefited by it. It is vital to have a clearer understanding of the process if you are not enrolled automatically. During the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) that begins three months before you turn 65 and lasts for seven months you will need to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B.

Automatic enrollment for Original Medicare

In Original Medicare’s initial enrollment, if you are turning 65 and already getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB) or will start collecting retirement at age 65, Part A and/or Part B appears automatically. You have to sign up for Medicare Part B when you apply for retirement benefits. If you are eligible for Social Security retirement Medicare Part A enrollment occurs automatically. Before your 65th birthday, a Medicare card will be sent to you more or less than three months via mail.

Some get Part A premium-free as long as they have worked at least 10 years (or 40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes. But Medicare Part B comes with a monthly premium. However, there are some who prefer to enroll later especially if they are already under a different plan like an employer group plan.

Please be reminded that there is a penalty for those who do not sign up for Medicare Part B when they are first eligible and sign up later. This penalty is going to be charged from you throughout the whole period you hold the Medicare coverage. However, if there is a delay because of a coverage under your existing employer or your spouse’s existing employer in Medicare Part B, you may not be subjected to a penalty if your existing employer coverage plan ends as you will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

If you are covered by Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits within at least 24 months, you will have Medicare automatic enrollment. Before the 25th month of benefits for disability, a mail for the Medicare card will be sent to you more or less than three months.

For those beneficiaries with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, will have automatic enrollment to Medicare Part A and Part B from the very month they first received the disability benefits.

If you are a working person, Social Security disability benefits are completely optional to have in case you have ESRD or End-Stage Renal Disease. Before you turn 65 and you have ESRD required for kidney dialysis or kidney transplant, the Original Medicare enrollment is for you.

Medicare Enrollment Start and End Dates

Just when you turn 65 and are not receiving benefits from Social Security, during your initial enrollment period or IEP, signing up for Medicare A and/or Part B is a must. This normally starts at least 3 months before you turn 65 and will end after another 3 months.

Anyone can enroll in Medicare even if there’s no plan on retirement at 65 during their IEP. There surely is a choice for anyone to apply for Medicare only if they apply through Social Security. Even if anyone has not worked long enough to qualify for retirement benefits they can still enroll during their IEP for Medicare Part A and/or Part B. They may not be qualified for a premium-free Medicare Part A and its price will be set up for them based on the period length they’ve worked. A monthly payment for premium if they sign up for Medicare Part B should also be covered.

Anyone can sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B within the General Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31 of each year if they missed their initial enrollment. If anyone did not sign up when they first eligible, a payment for late enrolls is present for both Part A and Part B. They are allowed to make changes to their coverage within the general enrollment period.

    Sign up via Social Security for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B:

  • Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.
  • Visit the local Social Security office.
  • Or connect with us at www.ssa.gov

For Railroad workers, they may reach out to Railroad Retirement Board to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. Call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772, Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM; TTY users can call 1-312-751-4701.

    Anyone enrolled to Medicare will get:

  1. Red card which represents Medicare Part A
  2. White card which represents Medicare Part B
  3. and blue Medicare card for Part A and B

Keeping this card in a safe place is highly recommended for future use. If a card is ever lost or stolen, application for a replacement of card is the next step or call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.

The beginning of Medicare Coverage

If anyone is already a retirement beneficiary before turning 65, their Medicare coverage will start with the month they’re first eligible. Their coverage will not begin until the 1st of July if they sign up during the general enrollment. If they are a disability beneficiary through Social Security or the RRB, the date is determined by the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board. The coverage start date is dependent on which month of IEP they signed up if anyone signed up during the initial enrollment for Medicare Part A and/or Part B.

Below chart shows when a Medicare coverage becomes effective if enrollment happens during your IEP:


For this month’s initial enrollment period:

Medicare coverage starts:
Social Security Medicare Site: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html
One to three months before you turn 65 years old. The month you turn 65 years old
The month of your 65th birthday One month after your 65th birthday
One month after you turn 65 years old Two months after you enroll in Medicare
Two or three months after you turn 65 years old Three months after you enroll in Medicare