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How Do I Apply for Medicare?

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

If you are already getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits (or Railroad Retirement benefits) when you turn 65:

  • You will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B (Original Medicare) automatically
  • You should get a “Welcome to Medicare” packet and Medicare card in the mail from the Social Security Administration about 3 months before your 65th birthday.

If you are not yet collecting retirement benefits:

  • You need to contact Social Security to apply for Medicare.
  • It is best to apply 3 months before your 65th birthday. If you do not apply, you will not be enrolled in Medicare.

Once you are enrolled, Social Security will send you a “Welcome to Medicare” packet that includes your Medicare card.

How do I join an additional Medicare plan? (Part C, Part D or Medigap)

Start by comparing plans in your area. There are a few ways to do this:

To help you use Medicare’s Plan Finder, contact an advisor at your local SHIP or our partners’ Benefits Advisors.

Once you’ve selected a plan or plans and understand their rules and costs, there are a few ways to apply:

Three ways to apply for Medicare parts C/D/Medigap

When you join any of these plans, you’ll have to give your Medicare number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started. This information is on your Medicare card.

Next steps:

Learn About Penalties and Risks or Get Help Comparing Plans with a Benefits Advisor