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Medicare General Enrollment – A Need to Know if Turning 65

Updated: May 6, 2020

When is the Medicare General Enrollment Period?

When you are first eligible for Medicare, there are several enrollment periods you need to be aware of in order to sign up on time and avoid penalties. The first is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is the seven-month period that begins the three months before you turn 65 and includes the month you turn 65 and the three months after you turn 65. If you sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during that period, you won’t have to pay any penalties.

If you happen to miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you have to wait for the Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP). This occurs every year between January 1st and March 31st. You would sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during that period if you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

Make Sure You Mind the Gap (if Any). Although you sign up for Medicare in the first three months of the year during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage does not start until July 1st of that year. This could mean that you would experience a gap in coverage. You may also have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Most people do not have to pay for Medicare Part A, but some do. For Medicare Part A, the late penalty is an extra 10% on your premium. You pay the extra for twice the number of years you could have been enrolled but were not. So, if you waited for two years before signing up, you would pay the penalty for four years. However, with the Part B Penalty, while you pay the same 10% extra per 12-month period that you weren’t enrolled but could have been, you would also have to keep paying the penalty for as long as you have Part B. Find out more about the General Enrollment Period at or giving us a call.


Still Working During General Enrollment Period

For those who are still working when they turn 65 and have a group health plan, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. This applies to spouses who are covered by an employer or union health plan, too. If you qualify for a special enrollment period, you can sign up later for Medicare Part A & Part B without penalties. Sometimes people who are volunteering in a foreign country will also qualify for a special enrollment period.

Social Security Beneficiary Enrollment in Original Medicare

If you are receiving Social Security benefits or have signed up to start receiving them at age 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. Those not signed up for Social Security will have to enroll themselves in Medicare. There are several ways to sign up for Medicare. Go to to sign up online. If you’d rather apply by phone, call 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also go to your local social security office.

There are lots of moving parts to Medicare, and it’s a challenge to keep track of the different enrollment periods and types of Medicare plans. Feel free to call us (1-888-552-2412 TTY 711), and one of our licensed brokers can discuss your medical needs and circumstances.

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