With so many plans and coverage options, applying for Medicare can seem challenging. We have experienced Medicare agents and we are here to make the process simple for you.
The Social Security office handles applications for Medicare Parts A and B. There are a few easy ways to enroll. If you are turning 65, you can apply during your Initial Election Period. This is the seven month period that starts three months before you turn 65 and lasts 3 months after your birthday month. This is also when you should enroll for Part D– although you purchase Part D separately from an insurance company. You do not enroll in it through Social Security because Part D is voluntary.) Next, we’ll cover when to apply for Medicare.
When to Apply
If you are a citizen age 65 or older and need medical insurance, you are entitled to enroll in Medicare.
If you already get Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B when you turn 65. Your card should arrive 1- 2 months before you turn 65.
If you don’t receive benefits, you need to submit an application yourself.
You can apply during your Initial Election Period. This is a seven month period that starts three months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after your birthday month. Waiting too long to enroll and missing the period will likely incur penalties.
Furthermore, f you have employer coverage, you can delay enrollment without having to fear a penalty.
If Medicare is Your Primary Coverage
If Medicare is your primary coverage, you will want your coverage to start the month you turn 65. You can ensure this by applying three months before your birth month.
It’s important to note that even though the IEP is 7 months long, the date you apply affects the date your coverage starts.
Furthermore, even if you drop employer coverage during your IEP, you will still start coverage at the appropriate date (outlined in the chart below).
If you miss the IEP for Part B enrollment, you will face a 10% late penalty for the 12-month periods you don’t apply when you could have.
If you have small employer coverage (less than 20 employees), you should always enroll in both Parts A and B during your IEP. Employer coverage won’t be recognized as your primary coverage unless there are more than 20 employees.
Applying for Medicare When you Have Large Employer Coverage
If you are working for an employer with 20+ employees, your employer plan will be your primary coverage.
In that case, you have the choice of whether you would like to enroll in Part B when you are eligible or delay enrollment. You will not face a penalty if you choose not to enroll right away. This is assuming your employer coverage is creditable and you enroll in Part B within 63 days of dropping the other coverage.
We can help you determine if it would be more worth it to remain in your employer’s plan or to enroll in Medicare.
How to Apply Online for Medicare
Social Security offers you a quick online application for Medicare that can be completed in fewer than ten minutes. Just visit the social security website and follow the instructions to apply.
While you wait for your card to arrive, our friendly agents can help you learn your Medicare supplemental insurance options. You’ll be ready to set up the rest of your coverage by the time you get your card.
Enrolling in Medicare online is certainly the easiest, but many people often ask us how to apply for Medicare by phone. Let’s take a look at that next.
How to Apply for Medicare by Phone
Applying for Medicare by phone is simple, but may take more time. This option is should only be used if you have one or two months before your Medicare becomes effective. Contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and tell the representative that you wish to apply for Medicare. You will either be helped immediately, or they will schedule a phone appointment with you to apply.
Your SS representative might send you some simple forms to complete. The forms have to be mailed to you, and then you complete them and mail back.
Finally, there are some people who just feel better handling their Medicare enrollment in person. So let’s close by going over how to apply for Medicare in person.
How to Apply for Medicare in Person
You can also apply for Medicare in person at a local Social Security office. This is a good option if you need to complete the process quickly.
Find the social security office nearest to you by visiting their website. After you have applied, ask the representative for a print-out saying that you have applied for Parts ! and B. This form will give you all the information you need to move forward with your Medicare supplement application and/or Part D drug plan.
Frequently Asked Questions – Applying for Medicare
When will I get my Medicare card?
You will typically receive your Medicare card about 3 weeks after you apply. If you already Social Security benefits when you turn 65, your enrollment into Medicare is automatic. Your card will just show up in your mailbox about 2 months before you turn 65. When you receive it, be sure that you do not forget to enroll in Part D – if you need drug coverage – before your initial enrollment period ends. Your agent is not allowed to solicit you for Part D since it is voluntary, so you must initiate that enrollment.
Do You Have to Apply for Medicare Every Year?
The simple answer is no, you don’t need to apply every year.
Your Medicare Parts A and B will automatically renew every year unless you fail to pay your premiums. Your Part D drug plan will also auto-renew each year. Although it’s important to note that drug plans tend to change every year. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your coverage every annual election period in the fall.
How Long Does it Take to Get Medicare Part B Coverage After Applying?
Your effective date for Part B often depends on when you have enrolled. In many circumstances, Part B will begin the following month.