Healthcare Educators


When Can You Enroll for Medicare: Understanding Enrollment Periods

by | Aug 23, 2021

Enrolling in Medicare can be a confusing process. You must consider whether you’re the right age and financial status to enroll and what coverage you genuinely need. Some people have family or friends to help them through this task, but others must go at it alone. This post will help you understand some critical details about enrolling for Medicare.

When Is Medicare Enrollment? 

Most Americans know that 65 is the monumental year when you can enroll for Medicare. There is a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period, which begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday. You can sign up for Part A and Part B during this time, depending on your needs.

If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can resort to the General Enrollment Period. This timeframe is from January 1 through March 31 each year. However, you might have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Lastly, you might be eligible to enroll in what’s known as the Special Enrollment Period. Many individuals who retire after 65 use this timeframe to enroll as it’s based on your unique circumstances (i.e., still employed).

How Do You Enroll?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the hub for Medicare. Fortunately, there are several ways to enroll, including:

  • In-person by visiting your local HHS office
  • Online at
  • Calling 1-800-772-1213
  • Mailing a letter to Social Security (The letter must be signed and dated. It must also include your name, Social Security number, and when you’d like to enroll in Medicare.)

When Does Your Coverage Start? 

Coverage start dates differ depending on when you enroll. If you enroll during the first three months of your Initial Enrollment Period, your coverage starts on day one of your birthday month. However, you’ll have an early start day of day one of the previous month if your birthday falls on the 1st of the month.

For example, if your birthday is November 15, your coverage will begin on November 1. Conversely, if your birthday is May 1, then your coverage start date will be April 1. If you sign up for Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage will start July 1.

These examples aren’t the only scenarios, as every situation is unique. So, you must speak with a specialist to determine when your coverage will begin.

What If You Have Employer Coverage?

When you turn 65, it’s possible to delay Medicare coverage without a penalty if you’re still employed and aren’t receiving any Social Security benefits. Naturally, it depends on your employer’s size and insurance.

Most of the time, you don’t need to do anything until you lose your employer coverage — even after you turn 65. If your employer is large enough, you can often have the penalties waived, too. Tiny details can make a big difference, so it’s always an excellent idea to have a thorough discussion with a seasoned specialist.

If you need guidance during this process, please reach out to PTT Financial. We’re here to help!