Signing up for Medicare Parts A and B at age 65
You are automatically signed up for Medicare when you turn 65 if you're getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments.
Watch for a packet of Medicare information, which includes your Medicare card, in the mail. If you don't get the package by your 65th birthday, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, call 1-800-325-0778.), 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If you are not getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments, you need to sign up for Medicare yourself by calling or visiting the Social Security office nearest you. Go to the to find that office.
Early Medicare enrollment
If you enroll during the three months before your eligibility month, your coverage will begin on the first day of your eligibility month, the month in which you turn 65. So, it's a good idea to enroll at least one month prior to your eligibility month.
If you enroll during your eligibility month or during the three months after your eligibility month, your coverage will begin the first day of the following month.
Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan
You can join a Medicare Advantage plan as soon as you become eligible for Medicare, during your initial enrollment period. You'll also need to enroll in Part A and Part B at this time.
Once you've joined Part A and Part B, you can't be refused coverage by any plans in your area that are accepting new members. However, special rules apply to people with end-stage renal disease.
Each private insurance company that offers a Medicare Advantage plan handles the enrollment process for its plans. You'll need to contact the company directly and ask how to enroll.
Information you need to enroll in Medicare Advantage
Save time and get through the enrollment process more easily by having:
- Your Medicare card.
- Your Medicaid program number, if you have one.
- Your health insurance card(s) for any other insurance you carry besides Medicare and/or Medicaid.
What to expect after you enroll in Medicare Advantage
After your eligibility is confirmed, your application will be submitted to Medicare for approval. It may take up to one week for final approval. If you do not qualify to enroll at this time, you will be informed in writing.
Once your eligibility is confirmed by Medicare, you will receive your welcome letter and member ID card. Your plan's coverage start date is pending Medicare approval. You'll also be mailed information that includes details regarding your plan benefits.
Medicare Part D enrollment
Enrolling in a Medicare plan does not mean you are enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan (PDP). That is a separate enrollment.
You have the same 7-month window to apply for a PDP as for other Medicare plan types, but you must enroll through a private insurance company.
Learn more about Medicare enrollment windows and timing