When to Apply for Medicare
Medicare is separate from your application for Social Security income benefits. People age into Medicare at age 65, regardless of whether they are taking retirement income benefits yet. If you are a citizen age 65 or older and need medical insurance, you are entitled to enroll in Medicare.
Most people enroll in Part A at 65. If you are still working and wish to stay on your employer’s group health plan, you can also delay your enrollment into Part B until later. Your group plan likely has outpatient benefits already built in, so you may not need Part B until you retire.
When to apply for Medicare varies based on whether you still have access to other health insurance coverage. Check with your agent for guidance if you are unsure. Next we’ll look at how to sign up for Medicare.
How to Apply Online for Medicare
Social Security offers you a quick online application for Medicare that can be completed in fewer than ten minutes. You do not have to be receiving income benefits to get Medicare. Just visit the social security website at www.ssa.gov and follow the links to apply for Medicare.
How to Apply for Medicare by Phone
Applying for Medicare by phone is just as easy as applying online. Contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and tell the representative that you wish to apply for Medicare. Sometimes you will be helped immediately. If the volume of calls is high, Social Security will schedule a telephone appointment with you to take your application over the phone.
How to Apply for Medicare in Person
Some people prefer to apply for Medicare in person at a local Social Security office. This can be a convenient option if you are very close to turning 65 and need to get your application processed quickly.
Visit the social security website to search for the office nearest you. When you meet with a representative, ask for a printout which shows that you have applied for Medicare Part A & B. This form will give you all the information you need to move forward with your Medicare supplement application and/or Part D drug plan.
When will I get my Medicare card?
In most cases, you will receive your Medicare card about 3 weeks after you apply. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, your enrollment into Medicare is automatic. Your card will just show up in your mailbox about 2 months before you turn 65.
Applying for Medicare is just your first step. Medicare does not cover all of your medical costs. There is significant financial exposure to you in the deductibles and coinsurance that you must pay. Working with an expert insurance agent will help you to identify Medicare supplemental insurance coverage that suits you.