It’s important to know the Medicare deadlines so you can avoid penalties. There are very specific times that you can enroll in Medicare.
Medicare Parts A & B
If you’re not receiving social security benefits then you have to sign up for Medicare Parts A & B. You can sign up for these during the seven-month period, 3 months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and 3 months after your birthday month. If you miss this enrollment time you can sign up during the general enrollment period from January 1 to March 31, but you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
Medicare Part D
You have to sign up for Medicare Part D during the 7 month enrollment period as well, but the late penalty is different. The late penalty is enforced if you go 63 or more days without prescription drug coverage after becoming eligible for Medicare.
Medicare Supplement Plans
Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover everything, so Medicare Supplement plans are sometimes necessary. You can sign up for a Medicare Supplement Plan within a 6 month period once you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
New to Medicare
If you are turning 65 and have worked for at least 10 years (during which time you paid Medicare taxes), you will be eligible to enroll in Medicare. Additionally, if you are receiving Social Security disability income, you will be able to enroll in Medicare. You may also qualify for Medicare if you have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (also referred to as kidney failure) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
Receiving Medicare Automatically
You may qualify for Medicare and be automatically enrolled if one of the following applies:
- Already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
- Receiving benefits from Social Security due to a disability
- Have Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday, or during your 25th month of disability. If you are diagnosed with ALS, you’ll automatically get Medicare Parts A and B the month your disability benefits begin.
Enrolling in Medicare
Not everyone is automatically enrolled in Medicare. For example, you may need to enroll yourself if:
- You aren’t currently receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) (for example, because you’re still working)
- You have End-Stage Renal Disease (Kidney Failure)
You can join Medicare Parts A, B and D during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is the seven-month window surrounding the month of your 65th birthday, starting 3 months before your birth month and ending 3 months afterwards.
Other Medicare enrollment periods if you enroll after you turn 65 include:
- Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B: If you’ve been covered by insurance through a current job (or a spouse’s current job), you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B up to eight months after the job or the insurance ends.
- Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D: If you’ve had prescription drug coverage through a current job (or a spouse’s current job) and it was creditable coverage, you can enroll in Medicare Part D up to 63 days after the job or insurance ends.
- General Open Enrollment Period: Annual General Open Enrollment occurs from October 15th to December 7th this year. If you enroll at this time, your coverage will start Jan. 1, but you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty if you were eligible to enroll in Medicare previously. Because of this, it is generally advised to enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible.
If you are nearing or already 65 and would like more information on Medicare Plans in Washington State, please visit our Overview of Medicare, as well as our guide for those who are New to Medicare. For assistance in choosing a Medicare plan, contact us to get in touch with a licensed insurance agent today!