Turning 65 and When to Enroll

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)- New to Medicare

When you are turning 65 and getting ready to enroll in Medicare, you will want to be aware of what your initial enrollment period(IEP) is and when it will be. Your IEP is a 7-month window to enroll for Medicare that begins 3 months before you turn 65 years old, includes your birth month, and goes up to 3 months after.

If you enroll in your Medicare Part A & B in the 3 month window before your birth month, coverage will go into effect on the first day of your birthdate month. For example: Thomas is turning 65 years old on April 16th, he enrolls in both Part A & B on March 21st, coverage will start on April 1st, the first day of his birth month.

If you enroll in Medicare in the latter part of that window, the 3 months after your birth month, your Medicare part A coverage will still go into effect retroactively on the first day of your birth month, but your Part B coverage could be delayed.

Delayed enrollment in Part B

Because Medicare part B is not free and charges a premium, many people choose to delay Part B enrollment if any of the following applies:

  • You are actively employed with health insurance benefits through your employer.
  • Your Spouse is actively employed, and you are covered under their employer health plan.

In these cases, you may delay your Part B enrollment while that coverage remains in place with no penalty.

*NOTE-   If your employer or your spouses’ employers has less than 20 employees then enrollment in Part B should not be delayed as Medicare would be your primary coverage and the employer coverage is considered secondary. Other exceptions include COBRA and Retiree benefits as they do not count as creditable coverage to delay Part B.

Part B Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

If you have delayed your Part B enrollment due to employer or spouse health benefits and coverage ends, you may enroll in your Part B under your Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This SEP allows you to enroll without penalty due to loss of primary coverage and will go into effect the first day of the month after you applied. Proof of creditable coverage from your employer or spouse benefits may be required to verify coverage and avoid late penalties during Part B enrollment. 

Disclaimer: This page has not been reviewed or endorsed by Medicare.gov or any member of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).