When you can enroll in Medicare depends on how you become eligible. You can enroll in the seven months surrounding your 65th birthday or after four months of dialysis treatments for End-Stage Renal Disease, and get automatically enrolled after 25 months of receiving disability benefits or the month you begin receiving disability benefits if you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Seniors Turning 65
As you near your 65th birthday, you should get prepared to apply for Medicare. You can first apply during your Initial Enrollment Period, which lasts for seven months beginning three months before your 65th birthday month and ending three months after. You can sign up for Medicare through Social Security by visiting your local Social Security office, applying online at their website, or calling Social Security.
If you have already been receiving retirement benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security at least four months before you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. You can expect to receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday and your coverage will start the first day of your birthday month, or the first day of the month before if your birthday falls on the first day of the month.
If you have missed your Initial Enrollment Period for any reason, you can always enroll during the General Enrollment Period, which starts on January 1 and ends March 31 of each year. This will give you another chance to enroll in Medicare, but because you delayed your enrollment, chances are, you will face late enrollment penalties that will be added to your monthly premiums. You may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that will let you delay your enrollment without facing penalties, but you must meet certain criteria to qualify for this period.
End-Stage Renal Disease
If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you are first eligible for Medicare benefits when you start your fourth month of dialysis. Unlike many disabilities, you are not automatically enrolled but have the option to sign up for Medicare. Signing up for both Part A and Part B is the best way to receive the coverage for out-of-area dialysis and your outpatient care.
Coverage begins in the fourth month of a regular course of dialysis treatments or the first month of at-home dialysis if you have been trained to perform the dialysis at a Medicare-certified facility and have approval from your doctor to perform dialysis yourself.
As a special benefit to people with ESRD, coverage is retroactive for this demographic for up to 12 months before the month you apply, beginning no earlier than when you first became eligible. That means if you don’t sign up for Medicare until six months after you become eligible, your coverage will start back to that first month when you could have applied for coverage.
People who have been receiving disability benefits (such as SSDI) from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months are eligible for Medicare benefits. If you fall into this group, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. Three months before your 25th month of receiving disability benefits, you will receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail. Your coverage begins the first day of the 25th month.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), your Medicare coverage begins the first month you receive disability benefits. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare and will receive your Medicare card in the mail this same month.
For more information about enrolling in Medicare, give us a call today at 512-614-2333. We will walk you through the enrollment process and make sure you have an understanding of each enrollment period.