How and When to Enroll in Medicare

Eligibility for Medicare begins on your 65th birthday. You can sign up for the program then, or delay doing so if you are still working. Failure to timely enroll will result in late-enrollment penalties – usually a substantial increase in your monthly Medicare premium price. You will be automatically enrolled on your 65th birthday if you have chosen to receive your Social Security benefit at age 62.

If you are not receiving Social Security early, then you have a seven-month window of opportunity to enroll in Medicare. This window opens three months before you turn 65 and closes four months afterward.

Enrollment in Medicare takes place through the Social Security Administration, and you can complete the necessary forms online, in person, or through the mail. But, you must take the initiative. To sign up in person, you can visit your local Social Security office with or without an appointment. I have, on several occasions, visited Social Security for clients. Each time, I arrived about 45 minutes before the office opened, stood in line, then waited 1-2 hours to be seen by an employee. It was a great opportunity to catch up on reading, knitting, and people watching.

Here’s a link to help find your local Social Security office.