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How to Apply

Most people are eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Some people will get Medicare automatically, and some have to apply for Medicare.

You will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) automatically if:

  • You are already getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits (or railroad retirement benefits) when you turn 65. You should get a “Welcome to Medicare” packet in the mail from the Social Security Administration about three months before your 65th birthday. The packet includes your Medicare card. You should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 if you do not get this packet before your birthday.
  • Note that residents of Puerto Rico will automatically be enrolled in Part A, but not Part B. If you live in Puerto Rico, you must apply for Part B. Learn more.

If you are not yet collecting retirement benefits, you need to contact Social Security to apply for Medicare. If you do not apply, you will not be enrolled in Medicare. There are three ways to apply:

It is best to contact Social Security three months before your 65th birthday. Once enrolled, Social Security will send you a “Welcome to Medicare” packet which includes your Medicare card.

If you have other group coverage through work, your spouse, or other sources (e.g., VA, TRICARE, Indian Health Service), you may want to see if it makes sense to enroll in Medicare at age 65, or to delay enrollment. Learn more about getting advice for your personal situation.

If you have questions about your options, get personal help in your local area from a Medicare-trained counselor.

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