Depending on your circumstances, you may not need to enroll in Medicare yourself. That is to say, you may be enrolled in the program automatically as soon as you meet its minimum requirements, including being of retirement age.
If you are not enrolled in Medicare automatically, you have 7 months to enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period. Your initial enrollment period is the time you first qualify to sign up for Medicare.
Your initial enrollment period starts 3 months before you become 65. The period ends three months following your birthday. For instance, if your birthday is July 21st, you can sign up between April 1st and October 31st.
If you sign up during the first 3 months of your 7-month period, coverage will start on your birthday month. Your coverage will start the month after your birthday if you wait until your birthday month to enroll.
However, your coverage may be delayed if you wait until after your birthday month.
If you wait until:
- The month after your birthday, coverage starts 2 months later.
- 2 or 3 months after your birthday, coverage starts 3 months later.
Note: If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Board benefits, you will automatically be signed up for Medicare Part A and Part B at 65 years of age.
If you qualify based on age and do not sign up around your 65th birthday, you will have to wait for another enrollment period.
Enrollment periods are when the program allows you to sign up for coverage. Open enrollment periods are not available year-round.