Medicare Questions

Guidelines for understanding Medicare

Your Initial Enrollment Period:

You have a 7-month window, called your Initial Enrollment Period, to sign up for Medicare at age 65. It spans the following timeframe:

  • 3 months before your 65th birthday
  • The month of your 65th birthday
  • 3 months after your 65th birthday

You will receive a Medicare packet in the mail from the Social Security Office. One of the items sent is the annual Medicare & You book for the current or next year. This book contains important information about your Medicare benefits. Keep the current book handy for reference. It has up-to-date information. If you plan to enroll in Original Medicare, you have the option of choosing a prescription drug plan under the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Program (Part D).

Are you already collecting Social Security? If you received Social Security before age 65, you should receive your Medicare card automatically 1-3 months before your 65th birthday. If you don’t receive the card, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213

What if you’re not collecting Social Security? If you have never received Social Security, you will have to call Social Security in order to enroll in Medicare. 1-800-772-1213

Are you still employed? If you are still actively working and have creditable employer insurance coverage, you are encouraged to enroll in premium free Part A during your Initial Enrollment Period. When you plan to stop working or lose employer coverage, you have 63 days to enroll in Medicare Part B and D without a penalty.

If you do not join a Part B (provider insurance) or Part D (prescription drug plan) during your Initial Enrollment Period, or you have lost creditable coverage (prescription drug coverage at least as good as or better than Medicare coverage), and 63 days have passed, you could have a penalty to pay when you join. You will pay this penalty as long as you have Medicare.

When can you make changes to your Medicare? You can switch to a different drug plan during the Annual Election Period from October 15th- December 7th of each year.
Each year, review your prescription coverage to make sure you have the most cost-effective plan for your situation.

Do you receive Social Security Disability? Generally, if you are disabled, you will have 3 months before and 3 months after your 25th month of disability to apply. SSA will automatically send the Medicare enrollment card.

I lost my Medicare card? Request a replacement card at 1-800-772-1213 or go on-line at www.ssa.gov