If you are already getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, you should get information in the mail shortly before you turn 65.
In cases of receiving at least 4 months of income benefits upon turning 65, you get enrolled automatically in Parts A and Part B.
If not yet receiving Social Security or railroad retirement benefits, you should contact Social Security three months before you turn 65.
In most cases, the first chance to sign up is your initial enrollment period (IEP), spanning the seven months around your 65th birthday.
Your IEP starts three full months prior to your 65th birthday. It includes the month of your birthday, and ends three full months after the month of your birthday.
If you do not sign up for Part B Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you may have to wait for another time of year to enroll, which could put you at risk for a late enrollment penalty. This penalty permanently increases the premium by 10% for each full year you were eligible but didn’t sign up
Clearly, when first eligible for Medicare, the timing of enrollment makes an impact.
If you sign up during the three months prior to turning 65, your coverage will start in the month you turn 65. If you sign up the month you turn 65, your coverage will start the following month.
However, if you sign up one month after your birthday, your coverage will start two months after you enroll. Those that sign up two or three months after your birthday, start coverage three months after enrollment.
What if I have health insurance through my job?
If you are still employed and you have health coverage through a plan offered by your employer, you can delay enrolling in Part B without any late enrollment penalty.
You can sign up for Medicare Part B while still covered under an employer plan, or within the eight-month period that follows after your employment or your group coverage ends, whichever comes first.
Once you enroll, your coverage can begin on the first day of the month following when you enroll.
If this applies to you, contact the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as soon as becoming Medicare eligible. They can confirm that you qualify to postpone enrollment in Part B without paying any penalty for late enrollment.