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Initial Enrollment Period

The Initial Enrollment Period is the first time you can sign up for Medicare.You may join Medicare Parts A, B, and D during this time:

  • The 3 months before your 65th birthday,
  • The month of your birthday, and
  • The 3 months after your birthday.

whentojoin_bday

Your coverage will start no sooner than your birthday month.
Example:If your birthday is in July, your IEP begins April 1st and ends October 31st.

Note: If you miss this period, you will have a chance again later on. But if you wait, you may have to pay more. You also could be without health coverage. Learn about penalties for late enrollment.

When does my Part B coverage begin?

The start date of your coverage will depend on which month you enrolled in Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period.

whentojoin_chart

Example: John turns 65 on May 6. Therefore, his IEP is from February to August. If John signs up for Part B:

  • During February, March, or April, his coverage starts May 1 (his birthday month).
  • During May, his coverage starts June 1.
  • During June, his coverage starts August 1.
  • During July, his coverage starts October 1.
  • During August, his coverage would not start until November 1.

Special note to people born on the 1st of the month: If your birthday falls on the 1st day of any month, and you enroll in the 3 months before your birthday, your coverage will begin on the 1st of the month prior to your birthday.

Example: Annette’s birthday is December 1. She applies for Medicare in September, and her coverage starts November 1.

When does my Part D (prescription drug plan) coverage begin?

The start date of your Part D coverage again depends on when you enroll.

whentojoin_chartb

Example: Keeping with the example above, John turns 65 in May. His Part D IEP is the same 7-month period surrounding his 65th birthday as his Part B IEP. His IEP is from February to August. John's Part D coverage cannot start before his Part A and/or B begins. If John enrolls in Part D:

  • During February, March, or April, his coverage starts May 1.
  • During May, his coverage starts June 1.
  • During June, his coverage starts July 1 (but not before his Part A and/or B).
  • During July, his coverage starts August 1 (but not before his Part A and/or B).
  • During August, his coverage starts September 1 (but not before his Part A and/or B).

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