Everything You Need to Know

If your 65th birthday is approaching, it’s time to talk about Medicare.

You know it kicks in when you turn 65, but how does it work?

Some people are automatically enrolled while others need to sign up through the Social Security Administration.

You’ll also need to get coverage for prescription drugs and maybe a supplemental insurance policy.

It may seem confusing but once you know the steps, the enrollment process is pretty easy.

Here’s how signing up for Medicare works.

Do You Need to Sign Up for Medicare?

Everyone is eligible for Medicare at age 65. You can also get Medicare earlier if you have a long-term disability, end-stage renal disease or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

If you’re already receiving Social Security — either disability or retirement benefits — when you turn 65, you don’t need to sign up for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) or Part B (outpatient coverage). You’ll be automatically enrolled.

You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B if:

  1. You receive Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least four months before turning 65.
  2. You are younger than 65 and have received Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months.

Your coverage will begin the first day of the month you turn 65.

And that’s it! No further action is required on your part.

However, even if you’re automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B (known collectively as Original Medicare), there may still be other coverage you should sign up for, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medigap supplement insurance policy.

We’ll cover how to sign up for those later.

Need a refresher on Medicare? Check out these seven frequently asked questions on how Medicare works.

How to Apply for Medicare If You’re Not Automatically Enrolled

If you haven’t claimed Social Security benefits yet and your 65th birthday is approaching, you need to sign up for Medicare on your own.


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