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Special Enrollment Period

For Part B:

You may have waited to sign up for Medicare Part B if you were working when you turned 65 and had health care coverage through your job or union, or your spouse's.

You can get a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B:

  • Any time you are still covered by the employer or union group health plan through your or your spouse’s current or active employment, OR
  • During the 8 months following the month the employer or union group health plan coverage ends, or when the employment ends (whichever is first).


If you wait longer, you may have to pay a penalty when you join.

If you are disabled and working (or you have coverage from a working family member), the Special Enrollment Period rules also apply.

Note: Usually when you lose your job or retire, your company must let you keep your job's health insurance. You would have to pay the entire premium. This is called continuation coverage, or COBRA. If you take COBRA before you sign up for Medicare, your COBRA ends when you get Medicare. If you get your Medicare first, you could have both Medicare and COBRA. This could cost a lot, so you will need to consider your options. Having COBRA does not count as coverage through active employment. If you have COBRA, you do not qualify for an SEP. You can get personal help to carefully review your options.

To find out if you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, please contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

For Part D:

You will get a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in a Medicare drug plan when you lose your other drug coverage if:

  • You did not enroll in Part D when you first got Medicare because you had
  • Drug coverage through your job or your spouse's job, OR
  • Drug coverage through the Veterans Administration.

Certain events trigger other Special Enrollment Periods. Then you can enroll or switch plans in Part D. For example, you can switch plans if:

  • You move out of the area your current plan serves, OR
  • You enter, leave, or live in a nursing home, OR
  • Your plan changes and no longer serves your area, OR
  • You get Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug costs.

There may be other special situations where you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to join or switch plans. You can get personal help to learn more.

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