How to Apply for Medicare?
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How to Apply for Medicare?

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Author: Tej Seelamsetty

07-15-2022

You Can Apply for Medicare Online, in Person, or over the Phone

If there's one thing that's constant about medicare, it's change.

Plans, providers, coverage — even the application process — are always in flux.

It can be hard to keep up. 

Applying for Medicare can be tricky, especially if you don't already know the ins and outs of the program. As a result, many people choose to work with a professional during the Medicare application process

If you're feeling confused by the process, you're not alone.

In this article, we'll walk you through the basics of applying for Medicare — including when and how to apply. 

When Should I Apply for Medicare?

If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, you'll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Your Medicare card should arrive in your mail three months before your turn 65.

If you're not already collecting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, you'll have to apply for Medicare yourself.

You can apply for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

The IEP is a 7-month window that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and extends through the three months after your birth month.

Here's a handy illustration that makes it easier:

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

If you're enrolling after your IEP, you might have to pay the late enrollment penalty, which could increase your Part A and Part B premium.

‎You can also enroll in Medicare Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period.

Original Medicare (Part A and B) doesn't cover your prescription drugs. But, to purchase a prescription drug plan, you'll need your Medicare card number, which means you need to enroll in Medicare first.

Once you apply for Medicare, you should receive your Medicare card in the mail within three weeks.

Should I Apply for Medicare If I Have Employer Coverage?

If you work at a small company (fewer than 20 employees), it might be a good idea to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. Ask your HR department if your coverage is considered "creditable" by Medicare. If not, you'll want to enroll in Parts A & B. Then, Medicare can be your primary coverage, and you'll avoid penalties from the government.

If Medicare is your primary coverage, be sure to enroll in Medicare within the first 3 months of your IEP. This allows your Medicare benefits to start on the first day of the month that you turn 65.

If you apply for Medicare in the last 3 months of your IEP, you may have to wait for your Medicare benefits to start. This could result in a few months without health coverage — something you probably want to avoid.

Also, remember to show your Medicare card whenever you visit the doctor.

Your Medicare Coverage Start Date

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If you (or your spouse) work at a large company (more than 20 employees), Medicare can act as your secondary coverage.

If you have large employer coverage, you can delay your Part B Medicare. This is because your employer coverage would handle your medical expenses. In addition, you would have to pay for your Part B premium, so postponing Part B Medicare could also save you money until you retire.

If you're still working at 65, compare your employer coverage with Medicare to determine if staying with your employer insurance provides better coverage. We can help you with this.

How Can I Apply for Medicare?

Now that you know when to apply for Medicare, let's talk about the most important part:

How to apply for Medicare?

There are three ways you can apply for Medicare: online, in person, or over the phone.

Keep the following information handy before you start your application:

  • Date and place of birth

  • Medicaid number — start and end dates (for those enrolled)

  • Current health insurance (start and end dates of employment and group health insurance)

Let's discuss all three methods in detail.

How do I Apply for Medicare Online?

The Medicare application is completed online through the Social Security website.

Step 1. Create an Account and Verify

  1. To start, go to https://www.ssa.gov/ and click the "SIGN IN/UP" button

  2. Click on the “my Social Security” box and create an account (If you already have an account, just click "Sign in to my account")

  3. A form will prompt you to enter your email address (we suggest you use your personal email address).

  4. Accept the terms and then click "Submit"

Once you click the "submit" button, you’ll receive a verification email. To complete the verification process, open your email and click the big blue button that says "Confirm email address."

Step 2. Authentication Method

This authentication step ensures that your account is safe and only you can sign in.

You can get your security code through SMS (texting) or phone call by entering your phone number.

Once you enter your security code, you'll be directed to a sign-in page. Sign in and enter your personal information to create your account.

At this point, you can opt for an extra level of security. (You can also return later and add this option once you complete your application).

Step 3. Apply for Medicare

Click on "Start your retirement application now" and fill out all the necessary information. Select "Apply for medicare only," and say yes to Medicare Part B if you wish to get coverage for your Part B. 

Once you're done, hit submit. 

If, for any reason, you plan to complete your application at a later date, make sure you complete the form before that date

As soon as you hit submit, your application will be processed. 

Step 4. Approval

Once you've submitted your Medicare application, your part is done. Next, Medicare needs to approve your application; this can take 2-4 weeks.

You can log in to your Social Security account to check the status of your application. 

Once you see “Step 3 of 3 Complete,” your application has been processed. To save the document, select "Print/Save the letter." This document contains your medicare number.

To make your online application process much easier, watch our video below:

How Do I Apply for Medicare by Phone?

You can also apply for Medicare over the phone by contacting Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM local time. (TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778).

If you're receiving Railroad Benefits, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772.

Usually, you'll get assistance right away, but if there's a high call volume, Social Security will schedule a telephone appointment to get your Medicare application done over the phone.

When applying for Medicare over the phone, your Social Security representative will mail you a few forms that need to be completed and returned.

Applying for Medicare over the phone can take some time to complete — it includes receiving forms in the mail, filling them in and mailing them back — so consider this option only if you have enough time before your enrollment period ends.

How Do I Apply for Medicare In Person?

If the above options don't work for you, you can still apply for Medicare in person. It's also a convenient option if you are short on time.

To apply in person, visit your nearest Social Security office. You can search for the nearest social security office on the Social Security website.

A Social Security representative will guide you through the entire process. Your representative will help you with any questions related to Medicare, such as your premium for Part A and B or if you need to pay any IRMAA (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount).

Should I Renew My Medicare Application Each Year?

Medicare application is a one-time process — as long as you pay your premium on time.

However, since Medicare plans keep changing, you might need to review your Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and/or Part D drug coverage each year and shift from one plan to another.

You can change your Part D plan and Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment period. Medicare Supplements can be changed at any time with Medical underwriting, and some exception periods even allow you to change Medicare Supplements without underwriting. We can help you do both.

You Can Get Help Applying for Medicare

The Medicare application can be done online, by phone, or in person.

The Online Medicare application process is supposed to be simple, but it may leave you with questions. If so, we're here to help you.

If you have any questions, confusion, or lingering doubts, call us at 1-888-376-2028. Our licensed Medicare experts will help you with your Medicare application process.

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