How to Sign Up for Medicare 

Wondering how to enroll in Medicare? It’s easy!

There are no medical questions to answer and pre-existing conditions are automatically covered.
You just need to observe a few rules to avoid problems.
So let’s get started on everything you need to know about how to sign up for Medicare.
Make a Note

  • Medicare will normally start on the first day of the month you turn 65
  • Apply two to three months before Medicare starts, unless you are already receiving Social Security checks, in which case your Medicare will start automatically without any need to apply.

Mistake #1 to avoid: If you fail to apply prior to the month in which you turn 65, your Medicare will be delayed by a minimum of one month, often longer.

Mistake #2 to avoid: Failure to apply for Medicare Part B prior to losing group coverage after age 65 could leave you without Medicare coverage for months at a time and even a potential 10% lifetime late enrollment penalty.

You've Got Medicare Questions? We've Got Answers!

WHEN DOES MY MEDICARE START?   Your Medicare will start on the 1st of the month in which you turn 65—but only if you sign up on time. For example, if your birthday is the 30th of August, your Medicare will start on August 1st.

Bonus month: If your birthday falls on the first day of the month, your Medicare will start a month early! So if your birthday falls on August 1st, your Medicare will actually start on July 1st. Just be sure to enroll two to three months before Medicare is to start.

WHEN SHOULD I SIGN UP FOR MEDICARE?    IT DEPENDS - will you draw Social Security or not yet?

Receiving Social Security benefits? You don’t need to do anything. Your Medicare card should be mailed to you automatically three months before you turn 65. It should show that you have Medicare coverage for both Hospital (Part A) and Medical (Part B). Part A is free, while Part B has a premium which will be $170.10 for most people first signing up for Medicare in 2022.

If your income is high enough, your premium for Part B could be considerably higher. The following link gives a detailed chart showing Medicare premiums for high-income earners: Medicare for Higher Income

If you have not received your card 60 days prior to when Medicare should start, you’ll want to call your local Social Security office and let them know that you have not received your card and ask for it to be re-sent.

NOT receiving Social Security benefits? If you are not receiving Social Security benefits, you will need to contact Social Security to get signed up for Medicare. Be sure to do this two to three months prior to the month your Medicare is supposed to start -- which is usually the month you turn 65.


There are 3 ways to sign up for Medicare:

1.  Apply in person at the local Social Security office.  This is the method that we recommend because it is the easiest, safest and most trouble-free. All you need to do is call your local Social Security office, set up an appointment and let a trained Social Security representative enroll you.  You may need some, or all, of the following documents when going to the Social Security office: Driver’s license.

  • Social Security card.
  • Birth certificate—either the original or a certified copy.
  • Proof of US citizenship if not born in the U.S.
  • Checkbook showing your bank account and routing number.

Even if you are unable to obtain all of these documents, do not delay in going to the Social Security office. YOU MUST apply prior to the month you turn 65, or you may ne without any insurance coverage for a minimum of one month—in some cases for much longer. The key is to have started the application process, as that will establish your application date as being timely.

If you are having difficulty obtaining a document, the Social Security office may be able to help, as their claim representatives are well trained in how to search for official documents.

Click here to find the address and local phone number of your nearest Social Security Office in Colorado.

2.  Call your local Social Security to apply by phone.

See above for a listing of local Social Security office phone numbers.

3.  Apply online through Social Security’s website.

Click here to enroll.

A word of caution if applying online: If Social Security is not able to positively verify your date of birth electronically, they will require you to either take your birth certificate to the local Social Security office or you’ll be asked to mail it. We do not recommend mailing such important documents. The possibility of an important document being lost either in the mail or while going from one desk to another at the Social Security office is just not worth the risk. It’s much more advisable to hand-carry the necessary documents to the Social Security office in person.

When does my Medicare Part B start?

If you sign up for Medicare Part A & B in this month:Medicare Part B will start on:Example for a January 20th birthday
1,2,or 3 months before you turn 65the month you turn 65If you enroll in Oct, Nov or Dec, Part B begins January 1st.
the month you turn 651 month after you turn 65If you enroll in January, Part B begins February 1st.
1 month after you turn 652 months after you turn 65If you enroll in February, Part B begins April 1st.
2 months after you turn 653 months after you turn 65If you enroll in March, Part B begins June 1st.
3 months after you turn 653 months after you turn 65If you enroll in April, Part B begins July 1st.
4th month and following after turning 65Can only start July 1st after enrolling in the General Enrollment Period. See below.See General Enrollment below.
General Enrollment
During January 1- March 31July 1If you enroll between January 1st through March 31, your Part B beings July 1st.

When is the open enrollment period? There are three times when you can enroll in Medicare:

The Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP

IEP begins

Your Birthday Month

IEP ends
IEP begins 3 months before your birthday month.IEP continues during your birthday month.IEP ends 3 months after your birthday month.
  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): Refers to the period when you first become eligible for Medicare, usually when turning 65. The IEP is a 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. During this time you can sign up for Medicare Part A and B.
    In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B and could have a gap in your health coverage. The penalty is 10% lifetime increase in your Medicare premium for every year that you went without Medicare coverage.

The General Enrollment Period

Month you sign upMonth Medicare Starts
JanuaryJuly 1
FebruaryJuly 1
MarchJuly 1
  • General Enrollment Period: Runs from January 1st through March 31st each year.
    If you sign up during this period, your Medicare coverage will begin on July 1st and you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty for failing to sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP):The most common reason for a special enrollment period is when someone receives group coverage while working beyond age 65. See the answer below on the next question.

What if I'm over 65 and still working?

You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if both of the following are true:

  1. You already have Part A, but delayed Part B enrollment because you are working,
  2. You are covered on your employer’s group plan.
    If you are in the above situation and would now like to qualify for Part B either because you are losing group coverage or no longer like it, here is how to qualify.
    You will need to complete and return two forms to your local Social Security office:
    • Form CMS-40B-E: You will need to complete this form.
      Be sure to include the month you would like to have your Part B coverage to begin, sign and date it.
    • Form CMS-L564E: Your employer will need to complete and sign and date this second form.
      Collect the form from your employer and take both forms to your local Social Security office.