How to Apply for Medicare


There are several ways to sign up for Medicare once you determine you are eligible to apply for coverage. You must know when to submit your Medicare application, as there may be penalties when you apply after your initial enrollment period. When you apply to Medicare, you should understand the documentation that you may be required to present as well as the different application methods that are available to you. Learn more about how to enroll in Medicare and what you should know about enrollment periods in the sections below.

When to Submit a Medicare Enrollment Application

You should register for Medicare during the seven-month period in which you first qualify for benefits. The initial enrollment period for Medicare as a senior citizen begins three months before you reach the age of eligibility, the month you become of age and the three months following your birthday. While you can sign up for Medicare any time in these seven months, the date your coverage begins will depend on when during that period you enrolled. For instance, if you enrolled during the month of your birthday or within the three months that follow, then your Medicare Part A or Part B coverage may be delayed. It is crucial that you understand when to enroll in Medicare to ensure that you receive your benefits in a timely manner and to avoid penalties and late fees.

However, you may be eligible for a special Medicare enrollment period if you did not apply during your initial enrollment period. You can sign up for Medicare during a special enrollment period (SEP) if you had a medical insurance coverage through your or your spouse’s employment when you were first eligible. You will only be eligible for an SEP if you were covered by a group health insurance plan. The SEP is an eight-month period begins the month after the employment or insurance coverage ends. If you meet the requirements for a special enrollment period for Medicare, then you will not be penalized for late enrollment.

If you miss your initial enrollment period for Medicare and you are not eligible for an SEP, then you will need to take part in the annual Medicare enrollment before you will be able to receive your Medicare benefits. This general Medicare enrollment period begins and ends in the first quarter of the year, each year. However, Medicare coverage does not activate until the second half of the year. Any changes to your Medicare coverage or re-enrollment will need to be done during this general enrollment period.

Download our free guide for details about Medicare enrollment periods so you do not miss out on the opportunity to receive affordable health care coverage.

What happens if you submit a Medicare health insurance application late?

If you fail to apply for Medicare during your initial enrollment period, then you will have to wait until the annual enrollment period or an SEP if you qualify. While Part B Medicare enrollment is optional because it includes a premium, you will be subject to late enrollment penalties if you later apply. Should you choose to obtain Medicare Part B coverage after your initial enrollment period, you will receive a higher monthly premium. This monthly premium will go up by a percentage for each 12-month period that you were eligible to receive Medicare Part B but chose not to. However, this penalty will not apply if you had group coverage and qualify for a special enrollment period.

Documentation Required as Part of the Medicare Health Insurance Application

When you sign up for Medicare, you may be required to present documentation depending on the method of application that you choose. Documentation that may be needed during the Medicare application process includes proof of citizenship or legal residency, income information, current or recent health insurance information and United States military discharge papers if applicable. Download our comprehensive guide for details on the documentation needed during the Medicare application process.

How to Apply for Medicare Online

The most convenient way for seniors to enroll in Medicare coverage is by submitting an application online through the designated website. The online Medicare application has a number of benefits including the following:

  • Saving time by avoiding trips to the Social Security Administration office
  • The ability to start and stop your application as well as make corrections prior to submission
  • Submitting the Medicare application any time instead of exclusively during office hours

Once you apply for Medicare online, you can use the confirmation number that you will be given to check the status of your application. Should the Social Security Administration need any information to process your Medicare health insurance application such as your date of birth, proof of citizenship, your Social Security Number or any other documentation, you will be contacted.

How to Enroll in Medicare in Person

You can sign up for Medicare in person by visiting your local Social Security Administration office. Ensure that you bring all necessary documentation for the Medicare application process with you; otherwise, you may need to return later with the required forms. Most offices will require that you call ahead of time and schedule an appointment.

Other Ways to Enroll in Medicare

If you would prefer to sign up for Medicare by speaking with the Social Security Administration, but you do not wish to visit their local office, then you can also register for Medicare by calling the Social Security Administration during normal business hours. Normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Are Seniors Eligible to Receive Health Services?

Seniors who meet eligibility requirements can receive health services from programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. These health service requirements are typically related to age and income levels. Find out if you may be eligible for medical assistance by downloading our guide today.

What Health Care Services Can Seniors Receive?

Depending on a senior’s eligibility, he or she may be able to enroll in a health insurance plan that is particularly tailored to the needs of seniors or enroll in programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Learn more about the health care services that are available to seniors by downloading our guide now.