Starting three months before the month you turn 65, you can enroll in Medicare. You can also sign up in your birthday month and the three months following your 65th birthday. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). Otherwise, you can apply for coverage online, over the phone, or in person at a Social Security office.
If you and/or your spouse are still working and receiving medical insurance from your employer’s group plan, you can choose to hold off on enrolling in Medicare Part B for now — but if you decide you want coverage later, you may have to pay higher premiums as a penalty. It’s worth sitting down with your spouse and figuring out the enrollment plan that best fits your needs.
Note: if you work for a small employer with fewer than 20 employees, Medicare is primary, so you need to enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B during your initial enrollment period as you turn 65.
If you get this wrong, you will later have to pay a 10% penalty for every year that you waited to enroll. This penalty is added to your Part B premiums, so you’ll pay it for as long as you are enrolled in Part B.