If you are eligible for Medicare, but not currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits or railroad retirement benefits, there are three different time periods during which you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B.

    1. Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). You can enroll in Medicare at anytime during this seven-month period, which includes the three months before, the month of, and the three months following your 65th birthday. The date when your Medicare coverage begins depends on when you sign up.
      • If you enroll during the first three months of your IEP, coverage begins the month in which you first become eligible for Medicare.
      • If you enroll during the fourth month of your IEP, coverage begins the month following the month of enrollment.
      • If you enroll during the fifth month of your IEP, coverage begins the second month following the month of enrollment.
      • If you enroll during the sixth or seventh month of your IEP, coverage begins the third month following the month of enrollment.

For example, let’s say you turn 65 in June. Use the following chart to determine when you can enroll in Medicare and when your coverage would start.

You can enroll anytime in: Your coverage starts:
 
March June 1st
 
April June 1st
 
May June 1st
 
June July 1st
 
July September 1st
 
August November 1st
 
September December 1st
 

 

    1. General Enrollment Period (GEP). If you did not enroll in Medicare when you originally became eligible for it, you can sign up during the GEP, which is from January 1st through March 31st of every year. Your coverage will begin July 1st of the year you sign up. You will have to pay a Part B premium penalty for every year you delayed enrolling in Medicare Part B.
    2. Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You can delay enrollment in Part B without penalty if you were covered by employer health insurance through your or your spouse’s current job when you first become eligible for Medicare. You can enroll in Medicare without penalty at any time while you have group health coverage and for eight months after you lose your group health coverage or you (or your spouse) stop working, whichever comes first. Medicare coverage begins the first month after you enroll.

For example, let’s say you retire in February. Use the following chart to determine when you can enroll in Medicare and when your coverage would start.

You can enroll anytime in: Your coverage starts:
 
March April 1st
 
April May 1st
 
May June 1st
 
June July 1st
 
July August 1st
 
August September 1st
 
September October 1st
 
October November 1st
 

 

To avoid a gap in coverage, enroll in Medicare the month before your employer coverage will end.