Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

When can I first enroll in Medicare?

If you’re approaching 65 and already started taking your Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. You will receive your Red-White-Blue Medicare card from the government approximately three months before your 65th birthday. Part A is usually “premium free” (for most people who worked 10 years or 40 quarters). The Part B monthly premium will automatically be deducted from your Social Security benefits. However, if you have NOT started collecting your Social Security benefits by age 65, you will need to “self-enroll” in Medicare Parts A and B. The essential time to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B is during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is a 7-month window starting 3 months BEFORE your 65th birthday month, your 65th birthday month and 3 months AFTER your 65th birthday month. You only get ONE Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) in life, (unless you’re disabled and have been collecting disability for more than 24 months – you will get a 2nd IEP at age 65). If you are planning on delaying Part B enrollment beyond your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), because you are still working past 65 and getting group health insurance from your employer of 20 or more, or perhaps you are covered on your working spouse’s employer insurance, you need to make sure that group health insurance is “creditable coverage” or you may be charged a Part B Late Enrollment penalty. It is important you check with your (or your spouse’s) employer benefits administrator to confirm the employer group insurance is in fact “creditable coverage”. The employer needs to have 20 or more employees for the group health insurance to be classified as “creditable coverage”. Since Part A (Hospital Insurance) is usually premium free (for most people), we recommend signing up for Part A during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Click icon below to see separate rules about signing up for Part A.

Below is the 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) Chart

**NOTE: If your birthday falls on the “1st” of the month, all of the dates shift one month earlier. For example, if your birthday is during the month of May (not the 1st), your 7-month Medicare enrollment window would normally be (February 1st thru August 31st). However, in the case where your birthday is May 1st, your 7-month enrollment window would be (January 1st thru July 31st).

As you can see from the above chart, if you want your coverage to start on the 1st day of your 65th birthday month, you need to enroll (sign up) for Medicare Part A and Part B between 1 and 3 months BEFORE your 65th birthday month. If you sign up during your 65th birth month or any of the 3 months following, your coverage will start the on the 1st of the following month you enroll.

Click HERE for great FACT SHEET on “Deciding Whether to Enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B When You Turn 65” from CMS

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