That’s a great question and the answer is, “it depends”.
Original Medicare has two components, Part A and Part B. Once upon a time Medicare and Social Security both started around the time you turned 65. However, now that the social security full retirement age has been extended beyond the age of 65, Medicare enrollment dates are a little more complicated.
Most Americans are still enrolled in Medicare Part A on the first day of the month they turn 65. That is, unless your birthday actually falls on the first of the month, then your Part A enrollment will happen the first of the prior month. Part A enrollment is automatic. You should receive a letter from the social security administration about 90 days prior to your enrollment, confirming your enrollment date. You will also receive a red, white, and blue Medicare ID card showing your Part A effective date.
Medicare Part B enrollment is the part that has changed with the delay of Social Security full retirement age.
If you are receiving Social Security retirement (or Railroad Retirement) benefits when you turn 65, then Medicare Part B will happen on the same date as Medicare Part A. Your Medicare card will show the effective date for both parts. On the other hand, if you have not begun receiving your Social Security or Railroad Retirement on your 65th birthday, then you will not be enrolled in Medicare Part B, unless you apply for it.
The Social Security Administration has made the assumption that since you have not applied for retirement benefits, then you are probably still receiving health insurance from your employer or your spouses’ employer.
What if that assumption is wrong? You can apply for Medicare Part B prior to the month your turn 65, and have it become effective at the same time as Medicare Part A.
Many people can apply online for Medicare Part B using this link: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/ If you prefer to handle the application over the phone, the national Social Security number is 800-772-1213. For those located in Hood and surrounding counties, the number for the Cleburne Social Security office is 866-227-1616.
By the way, the Social Security Administration administers all Medicare enrollments.
Some Americans are enrolled in Medicare due to a disability. If that is your situation, your Medicare enrollment usually happens on the first of the 25th month after your Social Security disability start date.
For those who have End Stage Renal Disease there are a number of differing start dates, depending on your particular situation. For detailed information, please go to this link: https://www.medicare.gov/information-for-my-situation/signing-up-for-medicare-if-you-have-esrd
Finally, let’s talk about Medicare premiums. Most Americans are not required to pay a premium for Medicare Part A (assuming you or a qualified spouse, ex-spouse) has at least 40 quarters of earned income. If you are required to pay for Part A, the monthly premium is $437, if you had less than 30 quarters of earnings. Your premium is $240 per month if you had 30-39 quarters of earnings.
Medicare Part B premiums are charged differently. Most Americans are required to pay a premium for Part B. The standard premium in 2019 is $135.50 per month.
If you are single or filing separately, with an income below $85,000 or married filing jointly with an income below $170,000, then you will likely be charged the standard premium for Part B. On the other hand, if you income exceeds these amounts, you will pay a higher premium. Please select this link for detailed information: https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs
We trust this answers most of your questions about Medicare enrollment dates. If you need further assistance, please call us at 817-573-0380, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
Lonnie Thibodeaux is the owner of Sargent Insurance and Financial Services. He specializes in Medicare health plans and prescription drug plans.