The first day you pay Social Security and Medicare taxes under your social security number is your first step in enrolling for medicare. The next step in enrollment can be done in a number of ways:
1. on-line at http://www.ssa.gov/medicareonly
2. By phone; 1-800-772-1213
3. In person at your local office – use https://secure.ssa.gov for locations and if you are in another country go to your embassy.
Hopefully there are many many years between your first paycheck and your 65th birthday not just because we all want a long life, but, benefits are determined by how much you paid into the system. This is far more important for Social Security benefits but you must earn enough credits to qualify for medicare.
It is recommended that you file for medicare three months before your 65th birthday even if you are not planning on filing for social security at age 65. If you do not file for Medicare in the three month window before you are 65 you may have to wait for the open enrollment period, and, you will have to pay a 10% penalty for every 12 months you delay. Even if you have insurance, file at 64 and 7 months to avoid the penalty.
The enrollment itself is not difficult. If you use the online method the site has a large button to click to begin the application, or, call for an appointment with the office and do it in person. The applicaton should take between 10 and 30min and the majority is completeing the Initial Enrollment Questionnaire, abbreviated; IEQ. You will need social security numbers for yourself and any family/spouse that you are connected to, and, insurance card if you have other insurance. If you are receiving care or funds due to Black Lung benefits, Workers’ Compensation benefits, Injury or illness for which another person could be held responsible /or/ no fault /or/ auto insurance have that information handy also so you can complete the form quickly and easily.
After the IEQ is complete, however you choose to do it, your job is basically done. If there are issues they will contact you but you should receive your card and a temporary password to www.MyMedicare.gov in the mail. If you realize you made a mistake on your IEQ after you submitted you can’t change it online but you can call their service number and they will fix it for you. After you log in using the password you are sent wsing the website it is a breeze and you can easily see your benefits, deductibles, and many other useful articles and informations. If you are not a computer person others can log in for you and there is even a secure option for someone else to do your enrollment.
The key take away is that it is easy to enroll and if you delay there are penalties. If you have other insurance medicare will take a secondary role and you will use less of it but it is still very important to enroll on time. So when you are planning your 65th birthday party, make an appointment to apply for Medicare. Remember, you paid into it for years, it is yours to collect.