People With Medicare
Just for You
Early Retirees or Unemployed before Turning 65
If you retire or are unemployed before you turn 65, there are some things you need to know about your eligibility to join Medicare.
You cannot get Medicare until you turn 65, unless you cannot work because of an illness or medical condition and have received Social Security disability benefits for two years. So be sure to arrange for health insurance before you take early retirement.
If you are unemployed, look into getting health insurance through your previous employer, or through your spouse's job. If you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for health insurance through your state (called Medicaid). Get personal help to learn more about Medicaid.
As you approach your 65th birthday, you need to know that there are certain times when you can sign up for Medicare. And, you should enroll on time. If you wait to sign up, you may have to pay penalties in the form of higher monthly premiums when you do join.
If you are already getting Social Security benefits, like early retiree or disability benefits, when you turn 65:
- You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. You do not need to do anything. Your Medicare card and "Welcome to Medicare" kit will come in the mail usually the month before your 65th birthday. Just sign the front of it. Then start using it.
If you are not yet getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65:
- You must apply for Medicare. If you do not apply, you will not be enrolled. You should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or visit them online, at least 3 months before your 65th birthday. Once you enroll, your Medicare card and "Welcome to Medicare" kit will come in the mail. Just sign the front of it. Then start using it.
Either way, once you enroll in Medicare Part A and B, you should also review the other options in Medicare such as Part D prescription drug coverage.
You will also want to:
- Find out how to get coverage to supplement or wrap around Medicare. Get personal help with reviewing your options. And,
- Find out more about programs to help you cover your Medicare costs.
Other Helpful Online Resources
- www.ssa.gov: To apply for Medicare, you can use Social Security's online services. Follow Social Security's instructions.
- MyMedicare.gov: Medicare offers a secure website where people with Medicare can review and track their benefits. Once you enroll in Medicare, go to www.MyMedicare.gov, and sign-up for this free, online service. Through your online account, you can get:
- Information about your Medicare benefits (24 hours a day, 7 sevens a week),
- Get and print your recent Medicare claims and notices,
- Track your prescriptions,
- Sign-up to get your yearly Medicare & You handbook electronically, and more.
The service also has a live chat feature. This way, you can get direct assistance online from Medicare.
NEXT: Types of Coverage