When can I enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B?

The first opportunity you have to enroll in Medicare is called your Initial Enrollment Period. The steps you should take to enroll in Medicare Part A (inpatient insurance) and Part B (outpatient medical insurance) depend on how you became eligible for Medicare and if you are already collecting Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits.

If you are under 65 and have a disability: If you become eligible for Medicare because of a disability and have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or railroad disability annuity checks for 24 months, you should automatically be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B at the start of the 25th month. You should not have to contact anyone. You should receive a package in the mail with your new Medicare card about three months before your coverage starts. There will also be a letter explaining how Medicare works and that you were automatically enrolled in both Patts A and B. If you get SSDI, your package and card will come from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you get railroad disability annuity checks, your package and card will come from the Railroad Retirement Board.

The letter will also explain that your monthly Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your Social Security check or railroad disability annuity check beginning the month your coverage begins. Typically, you should not turn down Part B unless you have insurance based on your or your spouse’s current work (see If I delayed enrollment in Part B because I had insurance through current employment, when can I enroll in Part B?). Your Medicare coverage will begin the first day of the 25th month that you receive SSDI or railroad disability annuity checks.

If you are turning 65 and you are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits: If you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits, you should be automatically enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. If you are eligible for automatic enrollment, you should receive a package in the mail with your new Medicare card about three months before your coverage starts. There will also be a letter explaining how Medicare works and that you were automatically enrolled in both Parts A and B. Typically, you should not turn down Patt B unless you have insurance based on your current work (see If I Delayed Enrollment in Part B Because I Had Insurance Through Current Employment, When Can I Enroll in Part B?). Your Medicare coverage will begin the first day of your 65th birthday month.

If you are turning 65 and you are not currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits: You can enroll in Medicare at any time during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which includes the three months before, the month of, and the three months following your 65th birthday month. The date when your Medicare begins depends on when you sign up.

  • If you enroll during the first three months of your IEP, coverage begins the month in which you first become eligible for Medicare.
  • If you enroll 11 during the fourth month of your IEP, coverage begins the month following the month of enrollment.
  • If you enroll during the fifth month of your IEP, coverage begins the second month following the month of enrollment.
  • If you enroll during the sixth or seventh month of your IEP, coverage begins the third month following the month of enrollment.

For example, let’s say that you turn 65 in June. Use the following chart to determine when you can enroll in
Medicare and when your coverage would start.

If you enroll any time in:Your coverage starts:
March

June 1st
AprilJune 1st
May
June 1st
June
July 1st
July
September 1st
AugustNovember 1st
September December 1st

It is important to note that if your birthday falls on the first of the month, your IEP is the seven months surrounding the month prior to the month of your birth. For example, if you turn 65 on June 1, your IEP runs from February 1 to August 31.

Read Next: If I Delayed Enrollment in Part B Because I Had Insurance Through Current Employment, When Can I Enroll in Part B?
Find Out: If I Missed My IEP and I Cannot Use The Part B SEP, When Can I Enroll in Medicare?
Return to: Medicare In-Depth

This content was created and copyrighted by the Medicare Rights Center ©2019. Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities. These materials are presented here with support from YourMedicare.com and may not be distributed, modified or edited without Medicare Rights’ consent.

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