The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the entity that manages the Medicare insurance program. In partnership with CMS, Social Security manages enrollment in Medicare whether or not the beneficiary is collecting Social Security payments.
Application for Medicare coverage only
To sign up online, the first step is to create a My Social Security account. This is a recommended practice for everyone regardless of age because it enables you to check your personal Social Security statements periodically to ensure annual earnings reflected are accurate.
In preparation, have the following information accessible for your Medicare application:
- Date and place of birth.
- Name of birth country at the time you were born if you were born outside the United States or its territories.
- Permanent Resident Card number if you are a non-U.S. citizen.
- Start and end dates of Medicaid if you are or have been a Medicaid recipient.
- Start and end employment dates if you are or have been covered by your employer’s group health plan.
- Start and end dates of health insurance received through your employer if applicable.
Visit ssa.gov/benefits/medicare and click “Apply for Medicare Only.” Follow the online instructions to complete the application, and return to this page to retrieve an application saved or to check the status of your completed application. The system allows you to save the application as you complete it in case you need to pause and return later. The Social Security Administration estimates it may take as little as 10 minutes to finish.
When to sign up for Medicare when turning 65
The overarching seven-month time frame within which you are eligible to enroll in Original Medicare begins three months preceding the month of your 65th birthday, includes the month within which your birthday falls and continues throughout the three-month period that follows the birthday month. Choosing when to apply for Social Security payments is a separate decision.
Automatic enrollment in Part A and Part B
Enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B coverage may be automatic in certain situations. Beneficiaries of Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits are automatically signed up for Original Medicare. In these cases, the effective date is either the first day of the month that you reach age 65 or the first day of the prior month should your birthday fall on the first.
Automatic enrollment in Medicare insurance also applies to people who are:
- Under 65 years old and have been receiving disability benefits from the SSA for 24 months.
- Under 65 years old and have been a recipient of specific disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months.
- Have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in which case parts A and B kick in the same month that SSA disability benefits begin.
Resources for assistance with Medicare coverage
Applicants who need to enroll in Medicare insurance but have difficulty with the online application can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you worked for a railroad, you can call RRB at 1-877-772-5772.