Do I Sign Up for Medicare When I’m First Eligible or Postpone?

When to sign up.

Understanding when to sign up for Medicare is important and can help you avoid late enrollment penalties or paying for additional coverage when you don’t need to.

You are eligible for Medicare typically at age 65 and can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) or, if applicable to you, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you didn’t sign up for Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period and you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment period, you can sign up during a General Enrollment Period (GEP), but you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty and have a delay in your coverage effective date. Be sure to check out Important Medicare Enrollment Timelines to see when your Medicare coverage will be effective based on when you sign up. 

If you are turning 65 and are enrolled in an employer group health plan based on your own or a spouse’s employment, you may be able to delay enrolling in Medicare when first eligible. See Medicare and Working Past 65 to learn if you should delay enrolling in Medicare or should sign up when you’re first eligible. Deciding to enroll in Medicare when first eligible or postpone will depend on the type of employer plan you have and a few other factors.

We recommend scheduling a personal consultation with a licensed BoomerBaby agent (there is no charge for this) to discuss your situation.

Whether you sign up during your initial enrollment period or a special enrollment period, it is recommended to start the process at least 2-3 months in advance of when you need your Part A and Part B to be effective. It generally takes a few weeks for your Medicare application to be processed and you won’t be able to enroll in a Medicare insurance plan until your Medicare application is complete and you have received your Medicare number. See How Do I Sign Up for Medicare for more information about how to enroll in Medicare Part A and B.