Once you become eligible for Medicare you have a timeline to initially enroll. It’s good to be aware of when exactly this is, as if you do not enroll during this time you might have to pay more for coverage. Even if you want to continue working, it won’t cost you anything extra to at least sign up for Medicare Part A. Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is determined by your age or the time of your qualifying disability.
How to Determine Your Initial Enrollment Period:
- Your IEP is calculated by the month of your 65th birthday, and includes three months before, your birthday month, and three months after, which is a total of seven months.
- The age of your spouse is irrelevant.
- An exception is if you were born on the first day of the month, then your birthday month is considered the month before.
- If you are less than 65 but have a qualifying disability, your IEP is calculated to be three months before and three months after.
- There are exceptions for people with special disabilities; for example, people with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), disabled rail workers, or people with End Stage Renal Disease are eligible for Medicare more quickly.
- During your Initial Enrollment period you have several options.
- You can sign up for Medicare Part A, Part B, or both.
- If you enroll in both Part A and Part B you can also opt for Medicare Part C, a Medicare Advantage Plan, and receive your Medicare benefits from a private provider.
- You can join a prescription drug plan (Part D).
The longer you wait to enroll the more you might have to pay in the end, so it’s good to consider your options early, so you are ready to act when your Initial Enrollment Period comes.