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Q: When Do I Sign Up For Medicare?


You’ll have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare as well as any other insurance you’d like to go along with it. This enrollment period begins three months prior to your 65th birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday.

Your situation may be different if you or your spouse plan to work beyond age 65 and will have health insurance provided by your employer. For now, let’s assume that’s not the case for you. You are approaching your 65th birthday; you do not have health insurance provided by your (or your spouse’s) current employer; and you are not receiving a monthly Social Security check. (That Social Security part is important. If you are receiving a monthly check from Social Security as you approach age 65, you’ll be signed up for Part A and Part B automatically.)

So, back to your seven month Initial Enrollment Period. Despite the fact that you’re allowed seven months to get signed up for Medicare, you probably don’t want to wait too long to enroll. If you want your Medicare coverage to start on the first day of the month you turn 65, you’ll need to sign up in one of the three months before your birthday month.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you turn 65 on December 27th. That means your Medicare can start on December 1st. It’s only going to start on December 1st if you enroll in September, October or November. If you wait until the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th month of your Initial Enrollment Period, there will be a delay in when your Medicare benefits start. The delay will be anywhere between one and three months.

You will not be assessed a Late Enrollment Period because you enrolled during your seven month Initial Enrollment Period. The consequence of not enrolling sooner is that you did not access Medicare as soon as you were in a position to do so.

Bottom line, don’t procrastinate!

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