The process of signing up for Medicare can be confusing because it isn’t the same for everyone. Some people will be automatically enrolled, while others have to actively sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B.
To make it even more stressful, there are penalties involved if you make a mistake! Read on to learn exactly how and when to apply for Medicare.
There are 3 different methods to enroll in Original Medicare Parts A & B. The methods are listed in order from easiest to most difficult.
If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your enrollment into Medicare Part A and Part B is going to be automatic. Expect to receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail roughly 3 months before your 65th birthday.
If you haven’t received yours by that time, we recommend calling Social Security to double check that it is being sent to the correct address.
NOTE: If you are receiving Social Security, your Medicare enrollment is automatic.
If you have to sign up for Medicare manually, the easiest option is to complete the application online using the following steps:
Step 1: Go to Social Security’s website here: www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare
Step 2: Click on “Apply For Medicare Only”
Step 3: Click “Start a New Application”
Step 4: Fill out all of your information and click submit.
Here is a checklist of the information you will need in order to complete the online application: https://www.ssa.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf
Call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 to schedule your in-person appointment.
You can also go without an appointment to your nearest Social Security office. At many locations if you arrive before they open, you’ll be able to get in without an appointment. This is recommended only as a last resort.
IMPORTANT: Get your application summary
Always ask for an “Application Summary” to prove your Medicare Number and effective dates. This is a confirmation that Social Security completed your enrollment correctly.
Enrolling for Medicare online is definitely the easiest way, BUT not everyone is able to do the enrollment online.
Yes, there are penalties if you do not sign up for Medicare BUT only if you don't have any other creditable insurance coverage.
No, you have to either enroll in Medicare online or go in-person to your local Social Security office.
Once you enroll in your Medicare Part A and B, you can then begin the process of enrolling in your Part D Drug Plan and either a Medicare Supplement Plan (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage Plan. Neither Social Security nor Medicare is able to assist you with this because they don’t have the proper licensing and certification. Schedule an appointment with us to compare plans and prices in your area.
Sylvia Gordon, aka Medicare Mama, is an expert on all things Medicare and Social Security. She is the 2nd Generation here at The Medicare Family and has served on the advisory boards of major insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare®, Cigna, and Anthem. In her free time, she can be found taking care of her animals (dogs, goats, peacocks, chickens), and reading a good book. Learn More.
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