It is important to apply for Medicare during the designated enrollment periods to avoid delays in your coverage and the possibility of paying penalty fees. Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins three months before your sixty-fifth birthday and concludes three months after it. 

If you are already collecting Social Security benefits at the time your IEP begins, enrollment in Parts A & B is automatic. Any premiums or additional expenses are deducted directly from your SSI or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. It is possible to enroll in Medicare online if you are not already collecting Social Security benefits at the time your IEP begins.

How to Enroll in Medicare to Receive Low-Cost or FREE Healthcare
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Your sixty-fifth birthday must be no more than three months away to do this. Please note the COVID-19 pandemic affects the availability of some Social Security Administration (SSA) online services. If online enrollment is not available, contact your local Social Security Office for more information and options.

It is crucial to enroll in Medicare Part B during your IEP. Medicare Part B carries a penalty for late enrollment if not signed up during your IEP, which increases in amount the longer it takes you to enroll. Open Enrollment is primarily designed for people already enrolled in Medicare. 

Changes to your Medicare plan made during Open Enrollment take effect the first day of the following month after the changes were made. Medicare Advantage plans are also made available for enrollment during these periods when switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare or vice versa. Medicare Advantage enrollment also occurs during general enrollment periods held between January 1 and March 31 of each year. 

The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is designed for seniors who missed IEP due to having health care through their own or their spouse’s job. Disabled seniors who have health care through a family member during their IEP also qualify to enroll in Medicare during the SEP.

Enrolling in Medicare requires an account with the SSA. Required information and documents include your driver’s license, birth certificate, proof of residence/citizenship, telephone number and Social Security Number (SSN). Non-U.S. Citizens are required to present a valid permanent resident card number. Seniors may enroll online or in person at a local Social Security office. 

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