Medicare Enrollment Periods For Part A And Part B: The Initial Enrollment Period

Medicare is the nation’s health care program that accompanies Social Security programs: retirement, disability and certain survivors benefits. Individuals that receive SSI (Supplementary Security Income) generally have entitlement to the local state government’s Medicaid program.

The Social Security Administration does not have the responsibility to administer the entire Medicare program. That falls to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security is generally involved with determining whether an individual is eligible for Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Doctors) of Medicare. We also
run a program called Extra Help for individuals with low income and resources that can pay for some of the costs of having Medicare Part D (prescription drugs).

Basically, Social Security determines whether or not you are eligible for Part A and Part B. If you were paying the Medicare tax from your wages while you earned the 40 work credits you needed for a Social Security retirement check, you will have enough for Medicare.

Social Security also enrolls you for Medicare A and B. You enroll through the Social Security Administration.  You can do it online or make an appointment in a Social Security office. You can also have your appointment on the phone.

If you are receiving a monthly Social Security check and take Medicare Part B which requires a premium, Social Security will collect the Medicare premium for you by withholding it from your Social Security check and forwarding it to Medicare.

Medicare Part A and Part B have three enrollment periods: initial enrollment period, Special enrollment period and general enrollment period. Today, we’ll talk about the Initial Enrollment Period. (You can read more about Medicare by reading our online pamphlet , Medicare https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf.)

The initial enrollment happens when an individual first reaches age 65. That is the Medicare age, no matter when you decide to take your Social Security benefits. It runs from 3 months before age 65, the month of age 65 and continues to run through the three months following age 65. You should consider signing up in the three month period before age 65. Page 10 of our Medicare pamphlet describes when your Medicare is effective based on when you sign up. (If you sign up the month of age 65 or in the following three months, your Medicare starts later.)

Another consideration is whether you have and use an employer’s health savings account. IRS rules say that if you have a HSA and a part of Medicare, you cannot continue to contribute to your Health Savings Account. Here is more information from Medicare’s own resources: Enrolling for Part A and Part B on page 27: https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11036-Enrolling-Medicare-Part-A-Part-B.pdf.

Friday, we will discuss the special enrollment period of Medicare.