When can I join Medicare?

You turn age 65

  • 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.

Example: Someone with a July 17 birthday can join Medicare Parts A and B from April to October.

Birthday: July 17 - Enrollment Period

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
If you join during:       3 months before birthday month     Birthday month 3 months after birthday month    
Medicare starts:
    July 1     Aug 1 Oct 1 Dec 1 Jan 1    

Note: The later you enroll, the later your Medicare Parts A and B will start. And Medicare Part D starts the month of your birthday, or the month after you enroll.

Are you age 65+ and outside the seven months around your birthday?

You can still join Medicare:

  • Special Enrollment Period for Parts A and B: This is for people who've been covered by insurance through a current job (or a spouse's current job). You can enroll up to eight months after the job or the insurance ends.
  • Special Enrollment Period for Part D: This is for people who had prescription drug coverage through a current job (or a spouse's current job) and it was creditable coverage. You can enroll up to 63 days after the job or insurance ends.
  • General Enrollment Period: This occurs each year from Jan. 1 to March 31. Your coverage starts July 1, and you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty.

Under age 65 and receiving Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security automatically enrolls you in Medicare Parts A and B.

  • Generally, this occurs on your 25th month of receiving Social Security disability payments.
  • Some people with disabilities don't have to wait this long, i.e., people with End Stage Renal Disease (also called kidney failure) or people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also called Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Medicare will let you know the effective date, and give you the option to defer Part B.

Updated 03/27/2014

See also

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