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Are you 65 or older? Are you eligible for Medicare because of disability? Are you losing your health care coverage from your employer?  Depending on your circumstances, you have a certain amount of time to enroll in Medicare. Learn more by reading Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods.


In most cases, you become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. You may enroll in Medicare Parts A and B up to three months before the month of your birthday, and up to three months after the month of your birthday. If you enroll prior to the month of your birthday, your Medicare start date will be on the first day of your birth month.*  *If your birthday is on the first day of the month, your enrollment period is slightly different, read Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods above.

There are two ways to sign up:

If you enroll in this month of your initial enrollment period: Your coverage starts on the first day of:
Up to 3 months before your birth month Your birth month
The month you turn 65 The month following enrollment
1 month after you turn 65 2 months after enrollment
2 months after you turn 65 3 months after enrollment
3 months after you turn 65 4 months after enrollment

Do I have to enroll? Doesn't Social Security know I am turning 65? If you are already receiving Social Security Payments, either due to applying for early retirement or SSDI, you do not need to contact Social Security to enroll. You will be auto-enrolled and your card will be mailed to you prior to your start date. Otherwise, you must initiate contact with Social Security.

Is the Initial Enrollment Period the only time I can apply?  Other than the IEP, there are other situations when you can enroll in Medicare.  The most common are:

II. Special Enrollment Period: Retirement or Loss of Employer Group Coverage

Perhaps you, or your spouse, continued to work after turning 65 and received coverage from an employer (with greater than 20 employees). Once you decide to retire or lose that coverage for any reason, you will have a SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD of 8 months following with loss of coverage to enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty. (Please note that COBRA is not considered to be CREDITABLE COVERAGE by Medicare. If you opt to take COBRA coverage, it is advisable to enroll in Medicare well within the 8-month period to avoid a penalty. 

Those who enrolled in Part A only but have stopped working and are seeking immediate enrollment into Medicare Part B need to follow steps 1 and 2 below. Read more in the SSA's Publication: How to Apply for Medicare Part B During Your Special Enrollment Period) Please note: Eligible enrollees who delayed both Parts A and B must contact Social Security to enroll by phone.)

STEP 1: Complete the Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B, Form CMS 40B and the Request for Employment Verification, Form CMS-L564 and attach a form of secondary evidence such as pay stubs showing health insurance deductions,  W2’s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions, Health Insurance Cards with an effective date, Explanation of Benefits paid by the Health Plan. Visit the SSA website; scroll down to the blue heading entitled "Already Enrolled in Medicare" for more detailed information and instructions.

STEP 2: Submit your enrollment request to Social Security by way of one of the following:

To speak with a representative from Social Security, call the main number 1-800-772-1213. The phone number to the Lynn Office is 1-866-366-7792.

If you have general questions about enrollment or specific questions about your situation, SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone on Medicare) counselors can explain the process and the forms that need to be submitted to Social Security. They can also review what your medical and prescription coverage options are beyond Medicare Part A and Part B.


If you are under 65 and have applied for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) you will automatically become eligible for Medicare after 24 months have passed from your effective start date of benefits. If this situation applies to you, you do not need to enroll for Medicare with Social Security. Social Security will send you your Medicare Card several months prior to your 24th month of SSDI Benefits.


Finally, if you do not fit any of the circumstances listed above, more than likely your only other option is to apply during the General Enrollment Period. This takes place between January 1 and March 31 each year. Enrollment during this period becomes effective on July 1st of that same calendar year.

Return to the SHINE Program Page

Return to the Danvers Senior Center Page

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