Apply For The Medicare Program

When you apply for Medicare benefits, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn't sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.

If you're eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don't enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a "general enrollment period" from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll.

Please note, if you live in Puerto Rico you will not receive Medicare Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B) automatically. You will need to sign up for it during your initial enrollment period or you will pay a penalty. To sign up, please call toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Applying online for Medicare

You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. You can use their online Medicare application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you're done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you'll receive your Medicare card in the mail. Medicare will mail new Medicare cards between April 2018 and April 2019. Medicare is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Social Security works with CMS by enrolling people in Medicare.

If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and/or health insurance based on employment, you may want to ask your personnel office or insurance company how signing up for Medicare will affect you. To find out what documents and information you need to apply, go to the Checklist For The Online Medicare, Retirement, And Spouses Application.

Who can apply for Medicare online?

You can use their online Medicare application if you:

  • Are at least 64 years and 9 months old
  • Want to sign up for Medicare but do not currently have any Medicare coverage
  • Do not want to start receiving Social Security benefits at this time
  • Are not currently receiving Social Security retirement, disability or survivors benefits
When to apply for the Medicare program

You should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65, even if you are not ready to start receiving retirement benefits. You can opt out of receiving cash retirement benefits now once you are in the online application. Then you can apply online for retirement benefits later.

With their online application, you can sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. If choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B and then decide to do so later, your coverage may be delayed and you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn't sign up for it, unless you qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period."

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

If you have medical insurance coverage under a group health plan based on your or your spouse's current employment, you may not need to apply for Medicare Part B at age 65. You may qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period" (SEP) that will let you sign up for Part B during:

  • Any month you remain covered under the group health plan and your, or your spouse's, employment continues
  • The 8-month period that begins with the month after your group health plan coverage or the employment it is based on ends, whichever comes first
Why apply for Medicare online?

Using their online Medicare application has a number of benefits. You can:

  • Avoid trips to your Social Security Office, saving you time and money
  • Answer questions at your convenience by starting and stopping the application without fear of losing any information you entered
  • Make corrections to the application prior to submission
  • Submit your application electronically. There is no need to mail in your application. When you are finished, just select "Submit Now" to send your application to Social Security
  • Receive a receipt online for your application that you can print and keep for your records
  • Check the status of your application online. You will receive a confirmation number once you submit your application
What happens after you apply for Medicare

Once they receive your application they will:

  • Review your application and contact you if we need more information or if they need to see your documents
  • Process your application once they have all of the necessary information and documents
  • Mail you a decision letter
Help for some low-income people

If you can't afford to pay your Medicare premiums and other medical costs, you may be able to get help from your state. States offer programs for people entitled to Medicare who have low income. Some programs may pay for Medicare premiums and some pay Medicare deductibles and coinsurance. To qualify, you must have Medicare Part A and have limited income and resources.

You can go online to get more information about these programs from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Visit and find the tab titled, "Your Medicare Costs" and find "Get help paying costs."

Only your state can decide if you qualify for help under these programs. To find out, contact your state or local medical assistance (Medicaid) agency, social services, or welfare office.

You may also be able to get Extra Help paying for the annual deductibles, monthly premiums, and prescription co-payments related to the Medicare prescription drug program (Part D). You may qualify for Extra Help if you have limited income (tied to the federal poverty level) and limited resources. These income and resource limits usually change each year, and you can contact us for the current numbers.

You automatically qualify and don't need to apply for Extra Help if you have Medicare and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Have full Medicaid coverage
  • Have Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Take part in a state program that pays your Medicare premiums

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