If you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or Part B and live in your plan’s service area, you can enroll in the Medicare drug benefit (Part D) during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

Your IEP for Part D will usually be the same as for Part B: the seven-month period that includes the three months before the month you become eligible for Medicare, the month you are eligible, and three months after the month you become eligible. For example, if you become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 on May 15, your IEP will be February 1 to August 31.

Note: If you are disabled and are turning 65 you will qualify for a new Part D IEP. That IEP will last seven months including the three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the three months after you turn 65. If you were paying a Medicare drug benefit premium penalty because you signed up late for Part D before you turned 65, you will no longer have to pay this once your Part D IEP begins.

If you join a Medicare drug plan during the three months before you are eligible for Medicare, your coverage will start the month you become eligible. If you join a Medicare drug plan during the month you become eligible, or during the three months afterwards, your drug coverage will start the first of the month after you enroll. You should enroll early during your IEP to make sure that your coverage begins as soon as you are eligible.

If you do not join a Medicare drug plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you may not be able to enroll until Fall Open Enrollment. Fall Open Enrollment begins October 15 and ends December 7. Changes and enrollments made during Fall Open Enrollment become effective January 1. You may also have to pay a premium penalty.

You may also have a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Part D under special circumstances, including if:

  • you get Extra Help; or
  • you lose employer drug coverage. 

Check out our Part D Special Enrollment Period (SEP) Chart for more information.