It’s important to know your enrollment dates and to enroll on time. The following penalties could apply if you don’t, unless you qualify for a SEP or another exception.
Enrolling in Medicare
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Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is 7 months long. It includes your 65th birthday month plus the 3 months before and the 3 months after. It begins and ends 1 month earlier if your birthday is on the first of the month. You may enroll in Part A, Part B or both. You may also choose to join a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) or a prescription drug plan (Part D).
Are you eligible for Medicare due to disability? Your 7-month IEP includes the month you receive your 25th disability check plus the 3 months before and the 3 months after.
General Enrollment Period
You may use the General Enrollment Period (GEP) to enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B or both if you miss your IEP. The GEP happens every year from January 1 to March 31. You may also choose to join a Medicare Advantage plan or a prescription drug plan from April 1 to June 30 the same year.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
Your Medicare supplement open enrollment is 6 months long. It begins the month you are 65 or older and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. You can apply to enroll at any time after this, but during open enrollment you are guaranteed coverage. Later you could be denied or charged more based on your health history. Some states may allow for additional enrollment periods.
Special Enrollment Period: Working past 65
You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Part A, Part B or both without penalty for up to 8 months after the month your (or your spouse’s) employment or employer coverage ends, whichever comes first. You may join a Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug plan up to 2 full months after the same event, if you are eligible.
You have just 63 days to enroll in Part D without penalty once your employer coverage ends. Ask your employer for a notice of “creditable drug coverage.”
Late enrollment penalties
- Part A: People who pay a premium (most don’t) could pay an additional 10% of the premium amount. The penalty is charged every month for twice the number of years enrollment was delayed.
- Part B: You could pay an additional 10% of the premium amount for each full 12-month period enrollment is delayed. The penalty is charged every month for as long as you have Part B.
- Part D: You could pay an additional 1% of the average Part D plan premium for each month you delay enrollment. The penalty is charged every month for as long as you’re enrolled in Part D.
- Medicare supplement insurance: You could be denied coverage or charged a higher premium based on your health history.