Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your first enrollment period for Medicare is your initial enrollment period (IEP). Preparing for your IEP can prevent problems down the line, since signing up for coverage after this period ends can result in penalty fees. You’ll first be eligible for Medicare when:
- You turn 65. Three months before you turn 65, your seven-month period to choose a Medicare plan begins. You can pick a plan anytime during this period; however, if you would like your coverage to begin when you turn 65, sign up during the 3 months before the month you turn 65. If you wait until the month you turn 65 (or the 3 months after you turn 65) to enroll, your Part B coverage will be delayed. This could cause a gap in your coverage.
- You have a disability and have received SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) for 24 months.
When people sign up for Medicare, they often get what’s called “Original Medicare,” which refers to Part A & B. Part B is an extra cost, but includes coverage for things besides hospitalization and prescription drugs. If you have other health insurance coverage, you may want to decline Part B, but it is important to understand the rules and weigh your options carefully. Keep in mind:
- If you or your spouse are still covered through an employer-sponsored plan, ask the employer if they require you to sign up for Part B. If not, you can sign up later without penalty, during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
- If you have TRICARE, you must have Part B. However, if you, your spouse, or your parent (if you are a legal dependent) are an active duty service member, you might not have to get Part B right away.
- If you have Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) coverage, you must have Part B.
- Financial assistance for Marketplace plans ends when you become eligible for Part A.
If you have paid into Medicare through FICA employment taxes, you will likely be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. If you want Medicare Parts B, C, or D, or you would like a Medigap plan, you have to choose to enroll in this coverage. If you miss your Medicare IEP, you will pay a late enrollment penalty when you sign up for Part B and Part D.
Enroll in Medicare by contacting Social Security at ssa.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE.