How to Enroll In Medicare When Turning 65

Applying for Medicare When Turning 65

The most important step in your transition to Medicare, that must be done prior to anything else, is your enrollment in Original Medicare (Parts A and B). 

This is typically occurs during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP is the 7-month period that surrounds your 65th birthday, and for most, the first time you are eligible to enroll in Medicare. 

Enrollment in to Medicare Parts A and B during your IEP happens in one of two ways:  

        If you’re already receiving social security income (SSI) benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Parts A and B approximately three months prior to your 65th birthday.

        If you are not receiving SSI benefits prior to turning 65, you must take the initiative in applying for Medicare yourself.  It’s important to realize that you won’t receive an official notice on how or when to enroll in Medicare, so it’s up to you to know when exactly you’re eligible to enroll and how to do it.  

How to Apply for Medicare Yourself During Your IEP

This is the most efficient way to apply.  You will need an www.ssa.gov account to access and complete the online application. 

You’ll be asked to provide personal information such as: 

✓ address

date of birth

an active email

a current mailing address

Additionally, you will need to disclose where you were born, as well as information regarding your current health insurance (start and end date if enrolling in Parts A and B).

You can complete the entire application online and receive a confirmation email when completed. 

What if you were born outside of the United States?

If you were born outside the United States, you can complete your application online, but you will also have to mail in or go in-person to your local office and present them with your original birth certificate.  If born outside the USA, we recommend going in person with your documents to expedite the process. 

Claiming Your Spouse

If you are going to apply for premium-free Part A by using your spouse’s work history, you CANNOT apply online. You must either go in person to your local SSA office or request a phone interview. With both scenarios, your spouse would need to be with you to confirm your marriage status. Providing a copy of your marriage certificate when applying in-person is also helpful. 

If you prefer, or are required to apply in person, you can do so by visiting your local Social Security Administration office. You would need to bring the following:

✓  Your driver’s license or other government issued identification

✓  A completed Medicare 40B form to enroll in Part B

✓  A copy of your marriage certificate (if claiming a spouse)

✓  An original birth certificate (if born outside of the United States)

To locate your local SSA office, click the link below: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

You can apply for Medicare Parts A and/or B over the phone. However, there are some important things to know about this process.

First, your first call will not enroll you in Medicare. You will be assigned an appointment by phone in the future, typically 4-6 weeks from your initial call.  After the appointment call is completed, it can take an additional 30-60 days to issue your Medicare card. 

If choosing this option, we recommend calling Social Security three months prior to your 65th birth month. With the length of this process, you do not want to have your Medicare card arrive after the 1st day of your 65th birth month. Not having your Medicare card will prevent you from enrolling in all your Medicare benefits. 

You can apply for Medicare by sending a signed and dated application via mail or fax to your local Social Security Administration office. 

Fax is the better option of the two as you create a fax confirmation report to document your application submission. Mail, unless you pay for some form of delivery confirmation, is difficult to track as there is no confirmation of receipt. 

For those automatically enrolled that do NOT want Medicare coverage, you must contact Social Security and make a formal request to decline these benefits.

How to Prepare for Enrollment

If you are responsible for enrolling yourself in Medicare Parts A and B, preparation is key to ensure that you don’t miss enrollment deadlines and can avoid coverage lapses and late enrollment penalties.  

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We suggest that you start gathering the information that you need to complete your Medicare application about 6 months before your 65th birthday.  You’ll also need to determine when your initial enrollment period is.  Not sure when that is? You can learn more about your IEP on our Turning 65 page.    

Ideally, 90 days before your birth month, which is when your IEP begins, you’ll have all of your documents together and be prepared to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B.  

Important: You must be actively enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) prior to signing up for any supplemental coverage.

Important Points When Enrolling at 65

Start Early.  Applying early will get your application in with plenty of time for the government to process and approve your enrollment. If there are any issues, you have plenty of time to resolve them.

Create an www.ssa.gov account. Having this account will allow you to apply and track your application. 

Understand your specific situation and if you can complete your application online or if you are required to apply in person.

Be cautious if you decide to apply by phone. As mentioned, this can lengthen the process and jeopardize a timely approval.

What's Next?

After applying for Original Medicare, you will want to start researching your options for Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Part D coverage. 

We recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our licensed Medicare insurance agents who can help you at no-cost understand Medicare and your options.

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