Though certain conditions may make you eligible for Medicare at a younger age, most people are eligible at 65. However, in certain cases, you can delay your Medicare application. For example, if you have employer-sponsored coverage, you may be able to hold off.
If you began taking out your Social Security benefits before you turned 65, the government will automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B. These benefits will kick in on the first day of the month you turn 65. If you aren’t already receiving Social Security benefits, you’re responsible for signing up for Medicare yourself. You can do this either online or in person at a Social Security office.
The first thing you should do if you’re on the cusp of 65 and still get benefits from your employer’s health plan is ask about Medicare. Your benefits administrator may require you to sign up for Medicare once you reach 65.
If this is the case, simply fill out your Medicare application during the enrollment period. The enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday. It lasts the month of your birthday and then three months after that for a total of seven months.
However, some employers don’t require you to sign up for Medicare. In this case, you can but don’t have to enroll. Whether you do is up to you. If you decide not to enroll, you won’t receive a penalty for missing your initial enrollment.
If you retire or lose coverage, you’ll be eligible for a special enrollment period. This enrollment period lasts for eight months. It begins the month after your coverage ends. Just be sure to sign up during this period to avoid penalties.
Once you apply, Medicare will become your primary insurance. If you still have another plan, Medicare will cover your expenses first. Expenses not covered by Medicare can then be submitted to another plan.
Need help deciding on the right plan? Head over to our Senior Savings Medicare Center to get all the info you need.