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For most people, Medicare coverage starts when you age in at 65. Some people delay enrollment and remain on an employer plan. Others may take premium-free Part A and delay Part B. If someone is on Social Security Disability for 24 months, they qualify for Medicare. Further, those with a diagnosis of End-Stage Renal Disease will get automatic Medicare with a diagnosis. When Medicare starts is different for each beneficiary. Below, we’ll go over what you need to know about when Medicare coverage starts.
What Age Does Medicare Start?
People with disabilities, ALS, or End-Stage Renal Disease may be eligible for Medicare before they’re 65. If you qualify for Medicare because of a disability, there is no minimum age for receiving benefits. However, most beneficiaries get Medicare at age 65.
Some people wait until they retire to start collecting benefits. For some, that could be 66 years old; for others, waiting until 70 to get delayed retirement credits may be the most beneficial retirement plan.
If you choose to enroll at age 65, benefits start on the first day of the month you turn 65. For example, if you turn 65 on June 30th, your coverage begins on June 1st. You can get Medicare at age 65 even if you’re not collecting Social Security. So, you can keep working and take your Medicare if that’s the path you want to choose.
When Does Medicare Open Enrollment Start?
For most people, it’s best to enroll during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period. Begin three months before you turn 65. It includes your birth month, and it ends three months after your birth month.
If you want your benefits to start at the beginning of the month, you turn 65, be sure to sign up at least a month before your birthday. You can also enroll in Part D prescription coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan at this time.
Those that don’t sign up for Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period may pay a late enrollment penalty. You’ll pay the penalty every month for the rest of your life for as long as you have coverage.
Examples of Creditable Coverage
For example, you work for a large employer, and the health plan is creditable coverage. In this scenario, delaying enrollment would make sense, especially if the coverage is better than Medicare.
Although, group coverage better than Medicare isn’t the typical scenario. Many people work for small employers; when this is your situation, Medicare is primary. So, if you don’t have Medicare, and you only have the group plan, the employer plan won’t pay until your Medicare is active.
Further, COBRA is NOT creditable coverage for Medicare. When you delay Part B without creditable coverage, a late enrollment penalty could be coming your way.
Even those with TRICARE need to enroll in Medicare to keep their benefits. However, if you have TRICARE, it’s unlikely you’ll benefit from extra Medicare coverage.
You can enroll online, by phone, or by visiting your local Social Security office. Once enrollment is complete, you’ll receive a red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail.
When Does Medicare Advantage Coverage Start?
The date your Medicare Advantage plan starts depends on the enrollment period and your eligibility. For those turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare, they can select an advantage plan 3-month before the effective date.
When you pre-enroll in your plan, you save yourself from scrambling. Medicare is one thing you don’t want to procrastinate. Many people change plans during the Annual Enrollment Period; if you make a change during this period, your policy will begin on January 1st of the following year.