Signing up for Medicare?

Some people get Part A and Part B automatically If you’re already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. (If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.)


If you’re under 65 and have a disability, you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months.
If you have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), you’ll get Part A and Part B automatically the month your Social Security disability benefits begin.


If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or 25th month of disability benefits. If you do nothing, you’ll keep Part B and will have to pay Part B premiums. You can choose not to keep Part B, but if you decide you want Part B later, you may have to wait to enroll and pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B.

Some people have to sign up for Part A and/or Part B If you’re close to 65, but not getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare. Contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65. You can also apply for Part A and Part B at socialsecurity.gov/retirement. If you worked for a railroad, contact the RRB. In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible, you may have a delay in getting Medicare coverage in the future, and you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B.
If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and you want Medicare, you’ll need to sign up. Contact Social Security to find out when and how to sign up for Part A and Part B. For more information, visit Medicare.gov/ publications to view the booklet “Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis & Kidney Transplant Services.”
Important!
Where can I get more information? Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 for more information about your Medicare eligibility and to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778. If you worked for a railroad or get RRB benefits, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772. TTY users can call 1-312-751-4701.


If I’m not automatically enrolled, when can I sign up? If you’re not automatically enrolled in premium-free Part A, you can sign up for Part A once your Initial Enrollment Period starts. Your Part A coverage will start 6 months back from the date you apply for Medicare (or Social Security/RRB benefits), but no earlier than the first month you were eligible for Medicare. However, you can only sign up for Part B (or Part A if you have to buy it) during the times listed below. Remember, in most cases, if you don’t sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and Part B when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.


Initial Enrollment Period You can first sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
If you sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, in most cases, your coverage starts the first day of your birthday month. However, if your birthday is on the first day of the month, your coverage will start the first day of the prior month.
If you enroll in Part A and/or Part B the month you turn 65 or during the last 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, the start date for your Medicare coverage will be delayed.


Special Enrollment Period After your Initial Enrollment Period is over, you may have a chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. If you didn’t sign up for Part B (or Part A if you have to buy it) when you were first eligible because you’re covered under a group health plan based on current employment (your own, a spouse’s, or a family member’s (if you have a disability)), you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B: • Anytime you’re still covered by the group health plan • During the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first.
Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period. This Special Enrollment Period doesn’t apply to people who are eligible for Medicare based on End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). It also doesn’t apply if you’re still in your Initial Enrollment Period.


Note: If you have a disability, and the group health plan coverage is based on the current employment of a family member, the employer offering the group health plan must have 100 or more employees for you to get a Special Enrollment Period.

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage, retiree health plans, and individual health coverage (like through the Health Insurance Marketplace) aren’t considered coverage based on current employment. You aren’t eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare when that coverage ends. To avoid paying a higher premium, make sure you sign up for Medicare when you’re first eligible.


General Enrollment Period If you didn’t sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and/or Part B (for which you must pay premiums) during your Initial Enrollment Period, and you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you can sign up between January 1–March 31 each year. Your coverage won’t start until July 1 of that year, and you may have to pay a higher Part A and/or Part B premium for late enrollment.
Should I get Part B? This information can help you decide if you should get Part B.


Employer or union coverage: If you or your spouse (or family member if you have a disability) is still working and you have health coverage through that employer or union, contact your employer or union benefits administrator to find out how your coverage works with Medicare. This includes federal or state employment and active-duty military service. It might be to your advantage to delay Part B enrollment.
Note: Remember, coverage based on current employment doesn’t include: • COBRA • Retiree coverage • VA coverage • Individual health coverage (like through the Health Insurance Marketplace)
TRICARE: If you have TRICARE (health care program for active-duty and retired service members and their families), you generally must enroll in Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible to keep your TRICARE coverage. However, if you’re an active-duty service member or an activeduty family member, you don’t have to enroll in Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage. For more information, contact TRICARE.
Health Insurance Marketplace: If you have coverage through an individual Marketplace plan (not through an employer), you may want to end your Marketplace coverage and enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid the risk of a delay in future Medicare coverage and the possibility of a Medicare late enrollment penalty. It’s important to terminate your Marketplace coverage in a timely manner to avoid an overlap in coverage. Once you’re considered eligible for Part A, you won’t qualify for help paying your Marketplace plan premiums or other medical costs. If you continue to get help paying your Marketplace plan premium after you have Medicare, you may have to pay back the help you got when you file your taxes. Visit HealthCare.gov to connect to the Marketplace in your state and learn more. You can also find out how to terminate your Marketplace plan or Marketplace financial help when your Medicare enrollment begins. You can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users can call 1-855-889-4325.


Health savings accounts (HSAs): You can’t contribute to your HSA once your Medicare coverage begins. However, you may use money that’s already in your HSA after you enroll in Medicare to help pay for deductibles, premiums, copayments, or coinsurance. If you contribute to your HSA after your Medicare coverage starts, you may have to pay a tax penalty. If you’d like to continue contributing to your HSA, you shouldn’t apply for Medicare, Social Security, or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits.
Remember, premium-free Part A coverage begins 6 months back from the date you apply for Medicare (or Social Security/RRB benefits), but no earlier than the first month you were eligible for Medicare. To avoid a tax penalty, you should stop contributing to your HSA at least 6 months before you apply for Medicare.

This information came from the 2019 Medicare and You guide.

* Transitioning into Medicare can be confusing. Do you have any questions? Please contact me so I can help answer any question or assist you with your Medicare options.