If you’re planning to retire in 2021, there are some things to know about Medicare enrollment. Depending on which situation you best match below, you have some options to think about. Read through a quick list of things everyone should know about Medicare and then find the situation that best matches you.
Things Everyone Should Know About Medicare When Retiring in 2021
Whether you’re turning 65, are already 65, or are older than 65 it doesn’t matter. If you’re planning to retire in 2021, these are some key things you should consider.
1. Talk with your employer benefits administrator early – at least 6 months before retiring if possible.
- Ask how your spouse/dependents may be impacted when you drop your employer coverage. They could be eligible for COBRA.
- Ask if you have retiree coverage available, how it may work with Medicare and if it’s available to your spouse/dependents.
- If you are over 65, and you were able to delay enrolling because you had creditable health coverage, make sure before you enroll to get written proof of your prescription drug coverage to avoid late enrollment penalties for Part D. Your employer provides this.
2. Identify and mark your calendars for your Initial Enrollment Period dates (if you’re under 65 or will be 65 at retirement) or for your Special Enrollment Period dates (if you’re over 65 and qualified to delay enrollment).
3. Enroll as soon as you can. Whether it’s the first month of your Initial Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period, enroll as early as possible to avoid late enrollment penalties for Parts A, B and/or D.
I’m Retiring In 2021 At Age 65 or Before I Turn 65
If you’re retiring before you turn 65 or right at age 65, it’s important to make sure you start learning about Medicare and to talk with your benefits administrator early on. A great way to learn about Medicare is this helpful 7-part free email series that walks through the basics, Medicare enrollment, your coverage options and more.
Here’s what else you need to know:
- Enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid late enrollment penalties. You can enroll as early as 3 months before your 65th birthday month.
- Enroll before you lose your employer coverage so you don’t experience any gaps in health care coverage. A good recommendation is about three months in advance.
- You may be eligible for retiree coverage or COBRA. Ask your benefits administrator about your options and how either may work with Medicare.
- Ask about how your spouse/dependents will be impacted when you lose your employer coverage and if they’ll qualify for either retiree coverage or COBRA.
- If you are not turning 65 for another year or two, you may need to get individual health insurance from an insurance provider if your employer doesn’t offer retiree coverage, or to fill in any timing gaps between COBRA and Medicare.
NOTE: If you’re covered by your spouse’s employer plan your Medicare enrollment options may be different. You may be able to delay enrollment or you may have to enroll during your IEP still. Some employers may require covered dependents of Medicare age to get Medicare in order to remain on the employer’s plan. The employer’s benefits administrator will be able to tell you.
I’m Retiring and I Am Over 65
If you’re already over 65 and are planning to retire this year, and you had creditable employer coverage, you will enroll during what is known as your Special Enrollment Period. This period begins when you retire or lose your employer coverage, whichever happens first. Make sure to identify your Special Enrollment Period dates. Get them using the calculator here.
You can watch a quick video about the Special Enrollment Period when working past 65 or keep reading on for how to prepare for enrolling in Medicare.
Here’s what you need to know about your Special Enrollment Period:
- You have 8 months to enroll in Medicare Parts A & B.
- You have only 63 days after your employer coverage ends to enroll in Medicare Part D or Part C without penalty.
- Start learning about Medicare and your coverage options at least 4-5 months before you plan to retire.
Number two above is especially important to pay attention to as it can catch a lot of retirees off guard and result in accidental late enrollment penalties.
Special Notes - COBRA:
- If you have Medicare and are eligible for COBRA, you can have both. Medicare will be primary.
- If you already have Part A when you retire and are eligible for COBRA, you can get it, but you’ll still have to enroll in Part D within 63 days of losing employer coverage and in Part B within 8 months to avoid late enrollment penalties.
Important Things to Know If You’re Over 65
If you are retiring after age 65 and did not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period with creditable employer coverage you may have a different Special Enrollment Period if you took COBRA or retiree coverage, or you may be considered as having missed your Initial Enrollment Period.
If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for when you leave COBRA or retiree coverage, you only have 2 months to enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. You need to talk with your employer’s benefits administrator and Medicare to see if this is possible for you.
If you’re considered as having missed your Initial Enrollment Period as you’ll have most likely have to enroll during the General Enrollment Period and may have to pay late enrollment penalties.
Start Learning About Medicare Before Retirement
No matter your situation when it comes to retiring and Medicare, the first steps should always be to talk with your employer’s benefits administrator and to start learning about Medicare early on. This way you’re prepared for enrollment, won’t be caught off guard with penalties and can handle Medicare enrollment with complete confidence.