Healthcare • November 9th, 2020

Will I Be Automatically Enrolled In Medicare At 65?

Stephanie Faris

Key Takeaways
  • If you’re receiving Social Security benefits as your 65th birthday nears, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
  • You’ll need to not only know how to enroll in Medicare but also the enrollment period that applies to you.
  • Part A is free for many retirees, but Part B will come with premiums.

You’ve dreamed of the day you’ll be able to retire, but as the date grows closer, you’ll start to consider the logistics. How do you enroll in Social Security? Do you need to sign up for Medicare?

Medicare enrollment is, in some cases, automatic, but unless you’re receiving Social Security, you’ll need to sign up. The good news is, the process is easy. You’ll just need to get the timing right to avoid paying higher premiums for Part B than you need to. Here’s what you need to know about Medicare enrollment.

Will I Be Automatically Enrolled In Medicare At 65?

Four months before your 65th birthday, it’s important to start looking into your Medicare enrollment. If you’re receiving Social Security payments four months before you turn 65, you should be automatically enrolled, which means you won’t have to apply for Medicare at all. But it still is a good idea to check with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make sure you’re good to go.

If, like many, you aren’t receiving Social Security yet, you’ll need to know how to apply for Medicare. As long as you or your spouse has worked at least 10 years, you’ll likely be eligible for Medicare starting with your initial enrollment period. The seven-month initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and ends three months after your 65th birthday.

How to Sign Up for Medicare

Unless you’re enrolled automatically, you’ll need to know how to sign up for Medicare. If you plan to sign up for Social Security during this time, there’s nothing extra you’ll need to do. The SSA will enroll you in Medicare at the same time you’re signed up for Social Security benefits.

If you don’t intend to apply for Social Security benefits just yet, you can still fill out the Medicare application and start enjoying medical coverage. You’ll just need to go to Medicare.gov and follow the prompts. If you have premiums associated with your Medicare coverage, you’ll be billed for those. Once you start receiving Social Security benefits, those premiums will be automatically taken out.

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Medicare Part A vs. Medicare Part B

Before you apply for Medicare online, it’s important to know the differences between the two most popular parts. Those who are receiving Social Security benefits at age 65 will automatically be signed up for Parts A and B. Part A comes with no premiums, assuming you or your spouse worked at least 10 years and paid Social Security taxes while doing so.

Part B, on the other hand, is not premium-free. Whether you’re enrolled automatically or you have to sign up, you get to decide whether you want Part B. Part A will cover your hospitalizations, so you’ll be paying premiums to get coverage for your doctor’s visits and outpatient care, which comes with Part B.

If you aren’t automatically enrolled, and you want Part B, you’ll want to pay close attention to the enrollment period. Failing to sign up during that seven-month enrollment period could cost you. You may be charged a penalty if you sign up later. This applies to Medicare Part B enrollment, as well as Part A, if you don’t qualify for premium-free Part A. If Part A is free to you, you can sign up at any time following that third month before your 65th birthday.

Final Thoughts

Although Medicare enrollment is automatic for some retirees, you can sign up for Medicare online in a matter of minutes. The hardest part is keeping up with when your enrollment period begins. A good Certified Financial Planner® can help you look at your Medicare options and determine whether Part B is the right option for your medical coverage.

Author

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.