How to Apply for Medicare
We know that applying for Medicare is a big step for most people it can be confusing and even at times intimidating. Often people think they have to go at it alone or that the only resource is the often-dreaded Social Security office. At Senior Market Solutions we have helped thousands of our clients sign up for Medicare and transition smoothly without headache or hassle.
There are several easy ways to apply when it’s time for Parts A and B. We recommend getting a hard start so that you are all set for your intended Medicare Part B effective date.
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When to Apply for Medicare
A common misconception is that the Medicare application is the same application as your Social Security income benefits (SSI) this is not correct, they are separate applications and processes. Generally, people who are aging into Medicare at 65 will need to complete this enrollment separate from their SSI application. If you are already on SSI or getting railroad retirement benefits you are automatically enrolled into Parts A and B age 65 and typically your card will arrive 1 to 2 months before you turn 65.
If you are not taking retirement benefits you would need to complete the application yourself and the government leaves the responsibility on you as to when to know to enroll and how to enroll.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
This is a period of time determined by the government in which you will be eligible to enroll in both Medicare Parts A, B and D. The IEP lasts seven months total and begins three months before your 65th birthday and runs three months after. If you enroll during your IEP you will have no late penalties and you are granted a specific right to enroll into any Medigap policy with no health questions, waiting periods or pre-existing condition restrictions.
Medicare as Primary Coverage
If Medicare will act as your primary source of coverage we highly recommend getting started early. Applying in the three months before your 65 th birthday will ensure that your benefits begin on the first day of your 65th birth month and that you have your cards and materials for the intended effective date. If you wait to enroll in the three months after your 65th birthday typically your effective date or start date will be later and you may go without health coverage if the timing does not coincide with the end of your previous coverage to Medicare. Generally, it is beneficial and in your best interest to apply prior to your 65th birthday.
Medicare and Employer Coverage Working Together
A less common option is to coordinate your Medicare benefits with your employer insurance coverage at the same time. This option is for people who are still actively working but would like Medicare but to be their secondary coverage. A person at this point can choose whether or not to enroll in Part B. Delaying Part B coverage will save you money until you retire from your job as Part B is not free like Part A. Knowing when to enroll can be difficult and even the folks at the Social Security office have been known to get it wrong. Our Medicare advisors have solved many enrollment issues for clients who face some unique circumstances. If you’re still working, we can help weigh the cost of your employer coverage compared to what Medicare as a primary coverage would cost. Doing so will help you to decide of staying with your employer insurance makes more sense than signing up for Parts A and B.
How to Apply for Medicare
There are three ways to apply for Medicare the first option is to apply online and this is the fastest and most effective way to complete your Medicare application it takes less than 10 minutes.
You can also apply for Medicare by phone using their toll-free number which is 1-800-772-1213 you will inform the representative that you wish to apply for Medicare. Depending on the call volume you may be asked to make a telephone appointment in order to complete your application. This option may also mean there are paper forms that need to be filled out and those would have to be mailed to you and completed and then mailed back and this can often cause delays. We only recommend this option if you have two months or more of lead time to your intended Medicare effective date and are able to receive and send mail back in a timely fashion.
The third option is to apply in person at your local Social Security office. This is a convenient option if you are especially close to your 65th and if you do not have access to Internet or phone or both.