Most Americans become eligible for Medicare benefits when they turn 65. They may be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare if they get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. If you automatically qualify for Medicare, check your mail for a Medicare card around three months before your 65th birthday.
It will also come with a letter that explains how Medicare works. Those that get Social Security retirement benefits will receive their Medicare package from Social Security Administration (SSA), while the beneficiaries that get Railroad Retirement benefits will receive theirs from the Railroad Retirement Board. Coverage starts on the first day of the month the beneficiary turns 65.
Manually Enrolling for Medicare
If you turn 65 but do not receive Social Security or RRB, you won’t be automatically registered for Medicare. Instead, you will need to manually enroll for Medicare. A Medicare beneficiary can do this during the 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, which includes the three months before the beneficiary turns 65, the month of their 65th birthday, and the three following months.
Those eligible for Social Security at 65 can enroll at their local Social Security office – you’ll need to mail a dated and signed letter with your name, date you’d like to enroll, and social security number. Those that are eligible for Railroad Retirement benefits can enroll by contacting their Railroad Retirement Board field office.
Must You Enroll for Medicare When You Turn 65?
You don’t have to register for Medicare when you turn 65, but you may lose your Social Security benefits if you don’t have a valid reason. You only need to accept Medicare Part A to keep your Social Security benefits, but you can choose not to sign up for Medicare Part B.
However, keep in mind that if you later decide to enroll in Medicare Part B, you’ll be penalized for signing up late. This is a lifetime penalty that you will have to pay every month.
In some situations, you can delay signing up for Part B without penalties. If you or your spouse have group coverage through a union or employer, you can decide to delay enrolling for Part B and can sign up during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
There are a lot of things to understand when considering signing up for Medicare. If you have more questions or need help enrolling, contact Turning 65 Solutions to speak with one of our experienced Medicare experts.