Medicare Enrollment Periods & Special Rules
When you are first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B:
- Begins 3 months before the month you turn 65.
- Includes the month you turn 65.
- Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
If you are not automatically enrolled, you can sign up for free Part A (if eligible) any time during or after Initial Enrollment Period starts. If you have to enroll in both Part A and Part B, then you can only enroll during valid enrollment period.
If you wait until the month you turn 65 or enroll in 3-month window after your Part B coverage will be delayed.
In most cases, if you do not enroll in Part B when first eligible you will have to pay a late enrollment fee/penalty. The penalty is 10% additional for every 12 months you wait and will have to pay that additional fee for life. This may also cause a gap in coverage.
If you do not sign up during your Initial 7-month Enrollment Period, you can enroll for Part A and Part B during the General Enrollment Period between January 1st-March 31st if both below apply:
- You did not sign up when first eligible.
- You are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
Your coverage starts July 1st if enroll during General Enrollment Period.
Special Rules: (Special Enrollment Periods)
Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you may be able to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you are covered under a group health plan based on current employment, you have a SEP to sign up for Part A and/or Part B anytime as long as:
- You or your spouse (or family member if you’re disabled) is working.
- You are covered by a group health plan through the employer or union based on that work.
You may have an 8-month SEP to enroll in Part A and/or Part B that starts at one of these times-whichever happens first:
- The month after the employment ends.
- The month after group health plan insurance based on current employment ends.
Usually do not have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you enroll during SEP.
*COBRA and retiree health plans are not considered coverage based on current employment. You are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period when that coverage ends.
*If your group plan has fewer than 20 employees you need to enroll in Part B when you turn 65 and Medicare will be primary and group secondary. If group plan has 20 or more then group primary and can utilize special rules.