Have you been wondering “When can I apply for Medicare?” It’s a commonly asked question. Most Americans become eligible to receive Medicare benefits once they turn 65 years old. However, depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for Medicare even earlier.
Do I Automatically Get Medicare When I Turn 65?
If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) when you turn 65.1
Worth noting, if you’re under the age of 65 and meet any of the following criteria, you may be eligible for Medicare sooner:1
- You’ve received at least 24 months of Social Security disability benefits
- You have a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board
- You have Lou Gehrig’s disease
- You have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
When Can I Apply for Medicare?
You can apply for Medicare up to 3 months before you become eligible, the month that you become eligible, and then 3 months after you become eligible. This 7-month window is referred to as the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). 1 The month that you become first eligible for Medicare is the month that you turn 65; if you’re eligible related to a disability, the month that you become first eligible is the 25th month of your disability payments.1
If you’re about to become eligible for Medicare, you may want to start shopping soon. If you miss your IEP, you may have to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which usually occurs from October 15 – December 7 each year.2
When Can I Change My Medicare Plan?
If you’re already enrolled in Medicare and want to change your plan, you can make any changes during the Annual Enrollment Period, which generally starts on October 15.2 Be on the lookout for an Annual Notice of Coverage, which you should receive from your insurance company by mail during the weeks leading up to the Annual Enrollment Period, also called Open Enrollment.
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can change plans or switch to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, usually from January 1 – March 31.2
How Can I Compare Medicare Plans?
Whether you’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time or you’re interested in reviewing and possibly changing your plan, HealthMarkets can help.
We can help you compare your options and find a plan that fits your needs and your budget, all at no cost to you. Start reviewing plans today.