Q: How do I enroll in Medicare if I’m not getting Social Security benefits? I turn 65, next month (June). I’m still working, but I don’t receive health benefits through my employer. I’ve been visiting the doctor at my local free clinic, and was told that I will no longer be eligible for that once I turn 65.
A: The rules concerning enrollment in Medicare are frequently misunderstood. People who delay starting Social Security benefits while they continue to work are not automatically enrolled in Medicare at age 65 — you must actively sign up. Not only is the responsibility yours, Medicare has specific enrollment periods and types of coverage. If any part of your enrollment process in Medicare gets goofed up, you may wind up with late enrollment penalties for the rest of your life, higher healthcare costs, periods when you have no coverage and disruptions in care. Good help is available so don’t let this happen to you.
Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period begins three months prior to the month in which you turn 65 and ends three months later. The seven-month period determines when your Medicare coverage will start. If you enroll during the first three months of your Initial Enrollment Period (for you that’s March through May) then your coverage starts when you turn 65 in June. For those who enroll in the fourth through seventh months, the Part B coverage is delayed from one to three months as shown in the following chart which shows the Medicare start dates for those turning 65 in June.
Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
|Enroll during:||Coverage starts:|
|June (turn 65)||July 1st|
You can apply for Medicare the following ways:
- Online at SocialSecurity.gov.
- Visit your local Social Security office.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
- If you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772.
For more information about enrolling in Medicare, visit www.Medicare.gov.