Over the next decade, roughly 10,000 boomers will reach turn 65 per day. Around this age, people have recently retired or are preparing to retire in a couple of years. But the most overlooked part of retirement planning is health insurance. If you’re turning 65 in the next three months, or you’ve already turned 65, it’s time to sign up for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) through Social Security. Today, we answer the question how do I sign up for Medicare and much more.
How Do I Sign Up for Medicare: Everything You Need to Know
1. You Can Enroll Online
When the time comes for you to enroll in Medicare, you have several options available to you. Depending on when and how you become eligible for Medicare, the enrollment may not be automatic. If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare, you have the option to enroll online at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Before you try to enroll for Medicare online, you should first sign up for a mySSA account if you haven’t already. Once you have your My Social Security account, you are ready to begin the enrollment process. Enrolling online will go much more smoothly if you have the following documents readily available:
- Your SS card if you receive benefits already
- Information about the type of health insurance you have
- Information regarding the dates of coverage for your existing health insurance
- US military discharge papers if you served prior to 1968
- Employment info, like a W-2 form if you’re still working
2. You Are Automatically Enrolled for Parts A and B Under Three Conditions
There are three conditions under which you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A, and Part B. One of the most common conditions is being a member of the Railroad Retirement Board or receiving benefits from Social Security already. If you’re not 65 yet and the Social Security Administration has determined you have a qualifying disability, you will also be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B automatically.
Finally, you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B automatically if you have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Medicare Part A Automatic Enrollment
The above conditions apply to those living in the continental United States. If you are receiving benefits from either the Railroad Retirement Board of Social Security, you will be enrolled in Medicare Part A automatically if you live in Puerto Rico. You will still have to apply for Medicare Part B.
Medicare Part D Automatic Enrollment
Many people know they need to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. What’s less commonly known is that Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is also important. Luckily, if you receive Supplemental Security Income, you are enrolled automatically into Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. You are also enrolled automatically if you receive Extra Help because you qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare.
3. Enrolling During Your Initial Enrollment Period Is Ideal
Besides how do I sign up for Medicare, one of the most commonly asked questions we get is when can I enroll in Medicare? Enrolling in Medicare during your initial enrollment period is ideal. This opportunity begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month of your 65th birthday. For example, if you were born on September 15, your initial enrollment period is between June 1 and December 31. When you apply during the three months prior to turning 65, your Medicare benefits will begin on the first day of your birth month.
Depending on when you enroll, your benefits will start one to three months after your enrollment month. For example, if you apply three months after your birth month, your benefits kick in three months after you apply. If you apply during your birth month, your benefits will start a month after your birth month.
4. There Is a General Enrollment Period
If you did not sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you may sign up during the general enrollment period. This occurs between January 1 and March 31 every year. When you enroll during the general enrollment period, your coverage doesn’t begin until July 1, and you may have to pay a higher premium.
5. You May Qualify for a Special Enrollment Period
As with every rule, there are exceptions. You can apply for Medicare during a special enrollment period if you meet certain requirements. If you qualify to apply during a special enrollment period, you will most likely not have to pay a financial penalty. Moreover, your coverage begins the month after your application is submitted.
You can find a complete list of qualifying events on the Medicare website. Two of the most common qualifying situations are having Medicaid and losing your current coverage, such as that provided by a union or employer. Moreover, you can qualify for a special enrollment period if you live in an assisted care facility, move outside your plan’s service area, or are eligible for Extra Help with paying for your prescriptions.
6. Calling Senior Solutions Group Can Help
If being told to apply online when you ask how do I sign up for Medicare overwhelms you, we strongly recommend calling Senior Solutions Group for assistance. Our trained, qualified professionals are passionate about providing Medicare help for seniors and will make the process of signing up smoother than you ever thought possible.
Besides saving you a lot of stress, our professionals will help to save you time and money while still ensuring that you get the coverage you and your partner need. To help you save the most time, arrive prepared.
Make sure you bring proof of your identity, age, and citizenship. If you were not born in the United States, you must bring proof of legal residency if you do not have proof of U.S. citizenship (Social Security card). You will also need to bring your birth certificate or other proof of birth to prove your age. Finally, ensure you have your driver’s license or passport, if it has not expired, to verify your identity.
7. The Penalty for Late Enrollment Is Steep
If you or your spouse has worked for at least 40 quarters, you are automatically eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage. Currently, a quarter is defined as a period of earning $1,360. Thus, if you have earned $54,400 over the course of your lifetime, you will not need to pay a premium to receive Part A coverage.
If you are 65 and not eligible for premium-free coverage, you are subject to a penalty of 10% of your monthly premium. Regardless of how late you applied, you must pay this penalty for twice the number of years you put it off. For example, if you applied for Medicare Part A when you turned 67, you must pay your monthly premium plus 10% for four years.
Medicare Part B Late Enrollment Penalties
As stated previously, some beneficiaries are enrolled automatically in Original Medicare, which covers both Part A and Part B. However, if you are not enrolled into Medicare Part B automatically, and you fail to enroll when you are first eligible for Medicare, you are subject to a monthly penalty added to your Medicare Part B plan when you finally enroll.
This equates to 10% of your monthly premium per 12-month period and is cumulative. For example, if you didn’t enroll in Medicare Part B until you were 69, your penalty would be 20% of your monthly premium charged every month for as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B. If you drop Medicare Part B and re-enroll at a later date, you are also subject to the same penalty.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Late Enrollment Penalties
The penalties for not having Medicare coverage do not end with Medicare parts A and B. You must also enroll in Medicare Part D (the prescription drug plan) during the initial enrollment period for part D. To avoid the Part D late-enrollment penalty, you must ensure that your insurance plan includes creditable coverage. Check every year to ensure your prescription drug coverage is creditable. You may have no more than 62 consecutive days without creditable prescription coverage to avoid the late enrollment penalty.
Learn More About Medicare Registration Today
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning the answer to the question how do I sign up for Medicare. If you’re not enrolled in Medicare automatically, you will have to pay severe penalties. Luckily, applying for Medicare isn’t hard. You have the option of enrolling online, over the phone, or having a trained, qualified professional at Senior Solutions Group make the application process seamless.
If you’re having trouble applying, or you want to learn more about Medicare, contact Senior Solutions Group today. We specialize in Medicare and will make the entire process simple from start to finish.