How to Sign Up for Medicare
If you’re 65 or approaching, you may have wondered how to sign up for Medicare.
Applying for Medicare can be overwhelming. There’s so much information to process and things to know to enroll correctly.
This article explains the steps to take to effectively sign up for Medicare Original, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D.
Applying for Medicare Original (Part A & Part B)
Before signing up for Medicare Original, find out if you’re not already enrolled in the program. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Original if:
You’ve been receiving social security or railroad retirement benefits for at least four months before you turn 65.
You’ve been receiving social security or railroad board disability benefits for a minimum of 24 months and are under 65.
If you’re automatically enrolled, you do not need to take further action. You’ll receive a package in the mail from the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Board (that contains your new Medicare Card and information about Medicare.)
If you’re not automatically enrolled, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B. The best period for this is during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The IEP is three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and three months after your birthday month.
You can sign up:
Online on the Social Security Administration’s website.
By calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number: 1-800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you have Railroad retirement, by calling the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772.
By visiting your local social security office.
The online application is the fastest and takes less than 10 minutes.
Applying for Medicare Part B
You may choose to enroll in Part A and delay enrollment in Part B if you already have group health insurance coverage at work or through your spouse’s employer.
If you change your mind, you can sign up during any month your group insurance or spouse’s coverage continues.
However, once you no longer receive these benefits, you must enroll in Part B within 8 months, after which you'll be penalized for late enrollment.
You can sign up for Part B by following these steps:
Print out the CMS 40B Form and fill it out.
Print out, complete, and send CMS L564 - Request for Employment Information (you’ll fill out section A while your employer fills out section B.)
Provide proof of employment, Group Health Plan (GHP), or Large Group Health Plan (LGHP) on your 40B form.
Mail both forms and proof of employment to your local social security office or fax them to 1-833-914-2016.
Applying for Other Medicare Options
Aside from Medicare Original, you can receive additional Medicare benefits through Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D. All of these coverages are available through private insurance agencies.
Also known as Plan C, Medicare offers the same benefits as Medicare Original and more. Medicare Advantage Plans also provide coverage for vision, dental care, and hearing.
You can sign up during the IEP (same months as Medicare Original) or during the Open Enrollment Period, which lasts from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. You can switch plans or disenroll during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year.
Medicare supplement is also known as Medigap and provides some out-of-pocket costs Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover, such as deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. To sign up for Medicare Supplement, you must have Medicare Original.
The best time to apply for Medigap is during the six-month enrollment period that starts after your 65th birthday month.
Medicare Plan D
This plan helps pay for prescription drugs. You can use Medicare Plan B with either Medicare Original (Part A and B) or Medicare Advantage (Plan C). You can sign up for Plan D, change, or drop your plan D coverage during the Medicare Open Enrollment from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
Documents You Need to Sign Up for Medicare
You’ll need some or all of the following documents before signing up for Medicare:
Copy of your birth certificate or other proof of birth
Proof of US citizenship or legal residence
State ID card or driver’s license
Social Security card (if you’re already receiving benefits)
US Military discharge documents (if you served in the US military before 1968)
W-2 forms if still active in employment
Details of your current insurance plans
If you get stuck trying to decide the best Medicare Plans to choose and when to apply, you’re not alone. Our Medicare experts will guide you through your options so you can make the best decision for your health. Speak with us today.