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Enrolling in Medicare

If you already receive Social Security (SS) or Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB), the good news is that you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A & Part B (also known as Original Medicare) when you turn 65. Part A benefits cover hospital expenses while Part B covers general health care. However, those individuals who are not already receiving SS or RRB will need to sign up for Medicare even if you aren't planning on retiring at age 65. There's lots more to unpack here, so lets dive in...

How do I know if I'm eligible to enroll? 
So long as you or your spouse worked for 10 years and paid Medicare taxes, you are eligible for Part A at no additional cost; this is called full eligibility. Individuals who are not fully eligible can still sign up for Medicare, but may have to pay a monthly premium. For more information about eligibility click here. If you are eligible for Part A, then you may also choose to enroll in Part B by paying a monthly premium. There are important things to consider when enrolling, including penalties for late enrollment, that are covered in the next section. 

I'm going on Medicare for the first time, when SHOULD I enroll in Medicare? 
There are several enrollment periods in which you may enroll in Medicare. They are the Initial Enrollment Period, General Enrollment, and Special Enrollment. However, if your are turning 65 and this is your first time going on Medicare, you will need to sign-up during your Initial Enrollment Period.

Initial Enrollment (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the seven-month period that includes the month of your 65th birthday, along with the three months before and after it. If you elect to enroll in Medicare Part B, we STRONGLY advise that you enroll during 3 months prior to your birth month; this effects your coverage start date (see below).

If you missed your IEP, you can enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP) or during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), but late enrollment penalties may apply.

General Enrollment (GEP)                    
This period runs from January 1st through March 31st. Coverage for individuals who enroll during this period begins on the first day of the month after you enrolled. However, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10% for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it.

Special Enrollment (SEP)
If you're 65 or older and covered by a group health plan from your own or your spouse's current employment, you may enroll in Medicare Part B during your Special Enrollment Period  without paying a penalty or having to wait for the GEP. You may enroll in Part B during your SEP at any time while you or your spouse have a group health plan OR during the 8-month period that begins the month after employment or group health coverage ends, whichever happens first. Note: COBRA and retiree health coverage don't count as current employer coverage. 

How do I enroll in Medicare?
There are several ways in which you can enroll in Medicare Part B. You can apply online on the Social Security Administration's website, in person at your local Social Security office, or call their toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 number to complete the application over the phone.

Complete the application: Fill out the application form accurately and provide all the necessary information. If you're applying in person or by phone, the Social Security representative will guide you through the process and help you complete the application.

Submit the application and wait for confirmation: After completing the application, submit it through your chosen enrollment method. If you apply online, you will receive an immediate confirmation. If you apply in person or by phone, you will be notified of your enrollment status by mail.

Pay the premiums: If you elect to enroll in Medicare Part B, you will need to pay monthly premiums for your coverage. The standard premium amount is set annually, and the cost may vary based on your income. Premiums are usually deducted from your Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or billed directly if you don't receive these benefits. You can have it automatically deducted from your bank account.

Remember, enrolling in Medicare Part B at the right time is crucial to avoid late enrollment penalties and gaps in coverage. It's recommended to start the enrollment process as soon as you become eligible to ensure seamless access to healthcare services. If you have any questions or need assistance, you can contact the Social Security Administration or give us a call.

If you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-275-1844

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Source: social security administration at

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