Three separate questions were received this week about how and when to enroll in Medicare when the person is not yet ready to start Social Security benefits. Even though Social Security full retirement ages (FRA) vary based on year of birth, it is important to remember that the age to begin receiving Medicare has not changed. It is still 65.
Even if waiting until after age 65 to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, most people start getting Medicare coverage at age 65. While people often think of Medicare at age 65, certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those who have disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure. As with other insurance coverage, Medicare has deductions and co-pays. It helps with the cost of health care, but does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care
People who started receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits before age 65 do not need to apply for Medicare. They are automatically enrolled in Medicare.
If not already receiving Social Security benefits, you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare. You need to take action to enroll. To begin your Medicare coverage when you first become eligible, apply within three months of reaching age 65, but definitely before the month you turn age 65, to avoid any delays in coverage.
The process is easy and can be completed either online or through a Social Security office. File your Medicare application online in as little as 10 minutes at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.
Traditional Medicare includes Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical). There is no monthly premium for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) because you already paid for it by working and paying Medicare tax. However, there is a monthly premium for medical insurance (Part B) and an option of turning it down. The standard 2013 Medicare Part B premium is $104.90 per month. Some people pay a higher premium based on income.
If not retiring at age 65, and already having employment related health insurance when you become eligible for Medicare, consider whether you need Medicare Medical insurance (Part B). This is important if you are covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse’s current employment. If this applies, you can delay Part B enrollment without penalty. Your employers human resources department and insurance carrier can discuss this with you. For more, see the section Special enrollment period for people covered under an employer group health plan in the publication Medicare.
Related information for you:
Medicare section of the Social Security website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm
Applying online for just Medicare: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly/. See also the publication Apply Online for Medicare-Even if You Are Not
Ready To Retire
Social Security retirement planner section: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/
Medicare website: www.medicare.gov
Specific Medicare coverage in 2013: http://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf