In an effort to save money, Social Security has been making many services available online. This is a win-win for everyone. Social Security saves money, and you don’t have to drive to your local SS office or wait in line once you get there.
One of the many things you can do online is apply for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes to enroll in Medicare online, and in most cases, once your application is submitted, you are done.
There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and let you know if more information is needed. Otherwise you will receive your Medicare card in the mail.
As a reminder, enrollment in Medicare is usually automatic, so you may not need to do anything to enroll. Any individual who receives Social Security benefits before age 65 or who applies for Social Security benefits at age 65 will be automatically enrolled in Medicare.
However, if you are not already receiving Social Security, you will not be enrolled automatically, so you will need to either call Social Security or visit the website to get enrolled.
When should you enroll in Medicare if you are not one of the people who is enrolled automatically? If you are age 65 and you are working but don’t have employer health insurance you will need to apply for Medicare when you turn age 65. If you are beyond age 65 (and you are still working) you will need to enroll within eight months of stopping working, even if you are on COBRA. Failing to enroll on time could result in higher premiums for life.
The general enrollment period (if you miss your enrollment deadline) is from January 1 to March 31 each year, with coverage beginning the following July 1. You will pay a late penalty of 10 percent (this is a permanent penalty) for each 12-month period you delayed enrolling. This penalty is added to your Part B premiums.
The open enrollment period for Part D is October 15 through December 7 each year, with coverage beginning on January 1.
You can enroll online at Medicare.gov or you can call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.