The first enrollment period beneficiaries will encounter is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) can be difficult to understand. Thankfully, we’re here to explain everything.
Many seniors miss an enrollment period and pay a Medicare late enrollment penalty. The most confusing part is that each Medicare Enrollment period has a similar title.
During the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period, these options are available:
- Part D Prescription Coverage
- a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Or a Medicare Supplement
Other Medicare enrollment periods include the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, Medicare Special Enrollment Period as well as the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period.
Below we discuss the Medicare enrollment periods of 2019 as well as any information you need to know.
Initial Medicare Enrollment Period
The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday, and continues for 3 months after the birthday month.
This totals 7 months in which Medicare Beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during this Initial Medicare Enrollment Period unless you qualify for automatic enrollment.
You can get the most out of your benefits if you understand when and how to sign up for Medicare.
When Should Use My Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
If you’re not already receiving social security benefits prior to turning 65, you’ll have to sign up for Medicare during this time.
However, if you don’t plan on retiring and receiving your Medicare benefits upon turning 65, you can always sign up to receive your retirement through social security at another time.
To qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, you or your spouse must have worked for at least forty quarters (10 years).
If you didn’t work a minimum of forty quarters you can still apply and receive Medicare Parts A and/or B, but the cost will vary.
You can take advantage of your Medicare Enrollment Period as early as 3 months before you turn 65. For those on disability, you’ll receive your Medicare Initial Enrollment after receiving Social Security for 24 months.
The premium for Part A and B is calculated based on how long you worked and paid Medicare taxes. Medicare Part B premium that is paid monthly.
If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period for some reason, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A and B during the General Enrollment Period (GEP).
The General Enrollment Period begins on January 1st and ends on March 31st. Keep in mind, if you enroll during the GEP your Medicare will not start until July 1st.
If you didn’t maintain creditable coverage, you’ll be subject to an endless penalty.
If you’re 65 or older and still working, you can find information regarding employer coverage and Medicare here.
How Do I Qualify for the Automatic Medicare Enrollment Period
Your Initial Medicare Enrollment into Parts A and B occurs automatically if you’re:
- Eligible for Social Security retirement.
- Turning 65 and already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB)
- Collecting retirement at age 65
When you apply for retirement benefits, you should also apply for your Medicare B. You should receive your Medicare card about 3 months prior to your 65th birthday.
If you have been entitled to certain Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability for at least 24 months, you qualify for Medicare Benefits prior to attaining age 65.
A Medicare card is mailed out about three months before the 25th month of disability benefits.
If a beneficiary has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, that individual will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B starting the month that disability benefits begin.
Individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), don’t need to receive Social Security disability benefits to qualify for Medicare and can still be working.
If you have ESRD and require kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant, you can enroll in Original Medicare at any time before turning 65.
When do I get Part D if I missed the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period?
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) takes place each year between October 15 through December 7th. During this period you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage policy or a Part D prescription drug plan.
If you enroll during AEP, the coverage you select begins January 1st of the following year. For example; You enroll November 15, 2019, into a Part D policy, that coverage starts January 1. 2020.
If you missed the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period, it’s possible that you’ll incur a Part D late enrollment penalty. Although if you have creditable coverage through another source, you may be able to avoid the penalty.
Enrolling in Original Medicare
There are a few ways to enroll in Original Medicare, Parts A, and B, through Social Security:
- By visiting SSA
- By calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm
- By visiting your local Social Security office
If you work at a railroad, contact the Railroad Retirement Board to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or B. You can call the RRB at 1-800-772-5772, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 3:30 pm.
Once you enroll in Medicare, you’ll receive a red, white, and blue Medicare card. It’ll show your Part A and Part B dates as well as your Medicare Number. After taking advantage of your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, you should keep this card in a safe place.
If you ever lose your card, or it gets stolen, you can apply for a new replacement card online. Or call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm.
Details on the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
After you complete enrollment in Medicare Part A and B, you’ll be eligible for a 6 month open enrollment period. This allows you a one time election period, and it begins on the same date as your Part B effective date or the first day of the month that you turn 65.
This Medicare Enrollment period permits you to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan without answering a bunch of health questions. You’ll qualify for Guarantee Issue rights.
When Medicare Coverage Begins
Your Medicare coverage will begin the first day of the month that you turn 65 or sooner if you’re already receiving retirement benefits before turning 65.
If you sign up during the General Enrollment Period your coverage will begin on July 1st.
Beneficiaries receiving benefits from disability can expect the Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board to determine effective dates for Medicare Part A and B.
Take advantage of the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period by enrolling one to three months before your 65th birthday. Medicare coverage will begin the month you turn 65.
If you enroll the month of your 65th birthday, the Medicare plan will start the first day of the following month.
Waiting until the month after your 65th birthday can mean your Medicare won’t start until 2 months after Medicare Enrollment.
Speak with a licensed insurance agent, it’ll save time and money. Our agents are trained to identify the most suitable plans as well as understand penalties and deadlines.
If you want to compare Medicare Supplement Plan rates, click here or call us at the number above today.