Medicare is a federal health insurance program designed to help qualified individuals with paying medical costs. Many become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65, while others become eligible if they have received Social Security disability benefits for 25 months or if they have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Suppose you already receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. In that case, you will be automatically enrolled for Medicare. However, if you are still employed or have deferred your retirement benefits, you will have to enroll when you become eligible.
How to Sign Up for Medicare
If you’re not enrolled automatically, there are three ways through which you can enroll in Medicare. This includes online, over the phone, or in-person at your local Social Security office. Many people prefer to sign up for Medicare online, as it is the easiest and fastest way of doing so. However, by working with an experienced agent like the ones with Bend Medicare, we can help you through this process if you run into any issues or need some sort of assistance.
You can generally use the online retirement application found on the Social Security Administration’s website (www.ssa.gov) to sign up for Medicare if you are not yet ready to begin your Social Security benefits. You can also save this application for later when you are ready to apply for retirement benefits. When applying online, this process should take no longer than ten minutes. There are typically no forms to sign or documents needed.
To apply for Medicare over the phone, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to start the application process. Keep in mind that phone applications may take longer to finish. To apply for Medicare in person, you can visit a local Social Security office to speak with a representative to help you through the application process. To complete your application, you will need documents such as employment information, SSN, birth certificate, current address and phone number, and other necessary information.
After you have enrolled for Medicare, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will send you a Welcome to Medicare packet along with your Medicare card in the mail. You’ll also get a Medicare handbook, which will provide you with important information about the Medicare coverage available to you.
When to Apply
There are several enrollment periods in which you can enroll in Medicare. The first is the Initial Enrollment Period. During the Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll for Original Medicare with no late enrollment penalty. The Initial Enrollment period starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after turning 65.
If you miss your initial enrollment, you can get a second chance to enroll through the General Enrollment Period. This starts on January 1 and ends on March 31 every year. However, the chances of you facing late enrollment penalties are much higher when enrolling during this period.
You may also be able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which will keep you from being penalized. As long as you meet the very specific conditions that qualify you for this period, you can enroll with no issue. For example, if you move outside the service area or your plan provider stops the plan, you may be eligible for this period.
For more information about applying for Medicare and what each Medicare plan covers, reach out to Bend Medicare today.