Medicare benefits are typically available starting the year you turn 65. Specifically, you can sign up for Medicare beginning the three months before your birthday month during the year you turn 65. You can also sign up during your birthday month and for three months following your birthday. This time frame is what is referred to as your Initial Enrollment Period.

Some seniors decide not to stop working at 65. Many of these individuals may have questions regarding Medicare eligibility and how continuing to work will affect enrollment and benefits.

Am I Eligible for Medicare If I’m Still Working and Have Insurance Through My Employer?

Despite qualifying under Medicare eligibility rules, you can delay enrollment in Medicare after age 65 if you are still working and have coverage through your employer. This can offset some costs associated with monthly premiums, but it will also mean that you will not be able to solely rely on Medicare coverage. Many Medicare recipients choose to sign up for Part A at 65 if they get it premium free due to taxes paid while working, but may delay Part B and Part D if they have other creditable coverage through their employer or union.

Special Enrollment Period Rules

If you choose not to enroll in Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period, you will need to enroll through a Special Enrollment Period. This would take place if and when you leave your employer’s plan.

Special Enrollment Period regulations allow for the changing of plans or enrollment in plans when certain life events occur. Under Medicare guidelines, losing your employer-sponsored healthcare coverage after age 65 is a qualifying life event.

One important thing to note about Special Enrollment Period rules and employment is that your employer must have at least 20 employees in order for you to be able to delay Medicare enrollment. If your place of work has fewer than 20 employees, your employer then decides whether you will need to enroll in Medicare and places your current healthcare insurance as a secondary source of coverage. Your Medicare plan would serve as the primary payer in this scenario.

Carrying Both Medicare and Employer-Sponsored Coverage

If you choose to keep your employer-sponsored healthcare plan and receive Medicare benefits, you will be responsible for any premiums associated with your plan, including those required for Medicare Part B, the outpatient benefit. You will also be responsible for any premiums associated with the plan offered through your place of employment.

Most seniors receive Medicare Part A, the inpatient benefit, without a premium, but this only applies if you have worked for at least 40 quarters or 10 years. During that time, you will have needed to have paid Medicare taxes through paycheck deductions in order to qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.

Carrying Employer-Sponsored Insurance in Retirement

Some employers provide ongoing healthcare coverage for employees who retire. This is sometimes the case for government employers and large companies, but such a scenario can apply to workers from all industries.

If you’re retired and have met Medicare eligibility requirements, you can still continue to receive your current healthcare benefits while also utilizing Medicare benefits. Your Medicare benefits will apply as the primary coverage while your employer-sponsored health insurance will act as the secondary. In this scenario, there are no limits regarding the size of your former employer or the number of employees currently or formerly employed.