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Where to Start? Initial Medicare Enrollment Period
Your first chance to sign up:
Generally, once you reach the age of 65. This period is referred to as your Initial Enrollment Period. It lasts seven months, beginning three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after your 65th birthday. The start of your Medicare coverage is determined by when you join up and whatever sign-up period you are in. The month you sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period determines when your coverage begins. The first of the month will always be the start of coverage. If you are eligible for premium-free Part A, your coverage will begin the month you turn 65. (If you turn 65 on the first of the month, coverage begins the month before your birthday.)
Part B (and Premium-Part A): Coverage starts based on the month you sign up. If you sign up BEFORE the month you turn 65, then your coverage will begin the month you turn 65. IF you sign up the month you turn 65, your coverage will begin the following month. If you wait until 1 month after you turn 65. Coverage will begin two months after the signup date. Waiting two or three months after turning 65, then your coverage will begin three months after signing up.
Enrollment for PART A can begin ANYTIME after you turn 65. Your coverage will start six months back from when you sign up. However, Coverage will only begin after you turn 65 (not earlier).
General Enrollment Period: Begins between January 1- March 31 of every year. With Enrollment into this period, your coverage will begin July 1. A late enrollment fee may occur if you do not sign up when you are initially eligible for Medicare. In addition, If you do not qualify for Special Enrollment Period you may have to pay a monthly late enrollment penalty.
What is Special Enrollment Period?
Special enrollment periods are only available for a limited time, and under certain situations. During these times a late enrollment penalty will not apply. If you are given a SEP and you do not sign up during your special enrollment period, then you will have to wait for the next general enrollment period and a late penalty may have to be paid monthly.
When does coverage begin with SEP?
Coverage when applying for the Special Enrollment period will begin the month AFTER you sign up.
How to know if you qualify for SEP?
Special situations can qualify you to be eligible to enroll outside of the general enrollment periods. These situations include: Currently employed and having insurance through that job, being a volunteer & serving in a foreign country, or situations for people with TRICARE.
In those situations you can sign up for Part A and Part B anytime as long as you have group health plan coverage or you/your spouse is working for the employer that you currently receive health coverage.
** In addition, if you or your spouse lose group health plan coverage or stop working you will be granted eight months to sign up. This 8-month special Enrollment Period will begin when you stop working.
What does not qualify for SEP?
If you have End-Stage Renal Disease, missing your eight-month window, or losing coverage will mean that you will have to wait for the next General Enrollment period to sign up
Already joined a plan?
Once you signed up for Medicare there are other times that you will be able to sign up for additional plan coverage such as plan Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.
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We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area.
Please contact Medicare.gov or 1–800–MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.