If you’re new to Medicare then you must be wondering how Medicare Benefits are activated. Maybe you’re preparing to retire, or you’re about to celebrate your 65th birthday, either way, you’ll need to make executive decisions about your healthcare coverage.
Postponing enrollment after your Initial Enrollment Period may result in penalty charges or gap in your coverage. This information provided can help you make the most informed decisions about your Medicare coverage.
When to Activate Medicare Benefits
Enrollment for Medicare happens during specific times. Depending on the circumstance, and after meeting certain requirements, Medicare enrollment is automatic once you turn 65; if you’re not going to receive automatic enrollment, you’ll need to apply.
If you’re getting Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security benefits prior to turning 65, enrollment for Medicare happens the 1st day of the month of your 65th birthday.
Should your 65th birthday fall on the first day of the month, activation of Medicare benefits will begin the first of the following month. At least 3 months before you turn 65, you can expect a welcome package from Medicare.
Automatic enrollment in Medicare will happen during the 25th month of receiving disability benefits (from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board).
Medicare Parts: The Basics
Medicare has different parts, each part covers specific services. Original Medicare is both Part A and Part B.
Medicare Benefits: Automatically Activated
If benefits are not automatically activated on Medicare, you’ll enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The IEP for Part B for first-time enrollees happens for 7 months.
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):
- Starts 3 months before your 65th birthday month
- Includes the month of your 65th birthday
- Stops the 3 months following the month you turn 65
If you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, and you:
- Don’t enroll in Part B when you first become eligible, you might have to pay a late-enrollment penalty when you choose to enroll
- Remember, this late-enrollment penalty lasts for the duration of your Part B coverage
I’m 65 and I’m Not Ready to Retire
If you’re receiving health insurance through your employer and you don’t plan on retiring by age 65, you might choose to do without Part B insurance, for now.
If this is your case, you may do this by returning the check-mark postcard which can be found in your Welcome to Medicare packet.
Part A benefits will be in effect, even if enrollment in Part B is delayed. Having employment a minimum of 10 years and paying into Medicare taxes during this time, qualifies you for Part A with NO premium cost.
Retired and Enrolled in Part B
Once you retire and have Part B, you’ll be sent an enrollment package from Medicare. Included in this package, are forms that need to be signed by your previous insurance provider. These forms will need to be returned to the Medicare office in a timely manner.
Provided documents will verify coverage from your previous insurer; upon completion, you’ll become eligible for the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). During the SEP, (which is generally 60 days after the event to enroll in a plan) you can enroll in Part B.
You must enroll in Part B within the first 8 months of separating from your employer-based coverage; otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period to apply.
Choosing your Coverage
Before deciding on what coverage options are best for your healthcare needs, you’ll need to understand the gist of how Medicare Plans work.
Even if you currently receive health insurance coverage through your employer, once you turn 65 you should enroll in Part A (if you’re not automatically enrolled).
Majority of you have paid into Medicare taxes throughout the duration of your working-life; because of this, you’ll have no monthly premium for Part A coverage.
Some Medicare beneficiaries might choose to wait on getting Part B coverage. Depending on your current healthcare coverage, you may want to wait on applying for Part B. Although the premium value varies, everyone is responsible for paying Part B monthly premiums.
Enrolling in Part B and the cost of your premium is based off your (or your spouse’s/or both) income. In 2019, the majority of Medicare beneficiaries will be required to pay the standard premium value of $135.50.
Signing Up For Medicare
When enrolling for Part A and/or Part B you have 3 options.
Generally, you can pick any one of the 3 methods to enroll whether you’re enrolling during the:
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) — occurs around the age of 65
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP) — SEP is for delayed enrollment past age 65 and is based on employer health coverage, moving or changes in coverage.
- Annual General Enrollment Period — runs from January 1st to March 31st annually, during this time you may sign up if you didn’t do so when you should’ve
Apply for Medicare
- Apply by Phone: To apply for Medicare by phone you can call Social Security’s main phone number; schedule an interview for a time convenient for your schedule.
- Apply in Person: Call Social Security’s main phone number and make an appointment for an in-person interview at a local SS office. If you need to contact your local office directly, you can look the number up in a phone book or by visiting the Social Security’s website and finding your local office with the ‘locator’ option. Remember: if you secure an appointment prior to the date, you won’t have to wait in line.
- Apply Online: You can apply online at any time, here. (SS website).
If you choose this option and you’re:
- At least 64 years and 9 months old
- Don’t have Medicare coverage yet
- Don’t live outside the US.
Before applying online, review the online instructions carefully and follow directions. Certain information and documents are a must to determine eligibility for Medicare.
This includes your:
- Date of birth + original birth certificate
- Marital status + original marriage certificate if appropriate
- Legal residency
- Immigration documents like a green card
- Social Security number
- Any evidence of current employment (union provided insurance based on you/or your spouse’s) current employment since turning 65
There are certain requirements to enroll online. Please follow Medicare guidelines.
Learn More About How Medicare Benefits are Activated
Either option for signing up that you choose, Social Security will send you a printout including the enrollment information. Having this hard copy will give you the opportunity to ensure your information is accurate.
Enrolling online may require additional information pertaining to your situation, if Social Security needs it, they’ll contact you to obtain it.
Once you sign up for Medicare, give us a call at the number above we can help you select the most ideal supplemental coverage for your situation. If you don’t have time to chat, fill out an online rate form.