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How to Apply for Medicare

For an insurance agent who specializes in Medicare Applying for Medicare does not feel like an overwhelming issue.  This is because we live and breathe everything Medicare on a daily basis. 

But for you, we understand that you don’t know all of the ins and outs of Medicare.  There is a reason many people don’t sign up for Medicare correctly and make assumptions that they have selected the right Medicare Part and plan, only to find out they left something out and now face lifetime penalties. 

We walk thousands of people through this very process of how to sign up for Medicare every year, so we encourage you to continue reading and learn everything you need to know about how to apply for Medicare.

The Social Security office handles Medicare applications for Parts A and Part B of Original Medicare ONLY. You have several different ways to enroll in Medicare.  Depending on your preferred method of communication you should be able to easily enroll without having any issues.  You can apply either online, by phone, or in person.  If you are about to turn 65, you can apply for Medicare as early as 3 months prior to the month of your 65th birthday.

We recommend that you begin as early as possible, as this will reduce most of the stress people experience because they waited to enroll until the last minute.

By starting the process early you will have your new Medicare card in hand well in advance of your effective date of coverage.  This will allow you to then explore your Medicare options.  Is it best for you to obtain a Medigap plan or should you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan

As your Medicare Insurance Agent, I am unable to help you obtain these plans until you are fully enrolled in both Part A and Part B.  

When you first become eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B this is known as your  Medicare Initial Enrollment Period.  You will also need to sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage at this same time.  Depending on which direction you go with your Medicare needs, you will either purchase Part D separately or through your Medicare Advantage plan.  If you obtain a Medicare Advantage plan you are not able to purchase a standalone Part D plan. 

If you forget to sign up for Part B and Part D coverage, you could face lifetime penalties if you do not have creditable coverage in place.

Next, we’ll cover when to apply for Medicare.

When to Apply for Medicare

When to apply for Original Medicare is more commonly known as your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).  Assuming you will be retiring, you will initially sign up for both Medicare Parts A and Part B and then will sign. up for Part D.  Medicare has a dozen or so different enrollment definitions that only confuse not only Medicare Insurance Agents but also our clients.  This is because Medicare is regularly adding or removing enrollment periods from year to year. 

The initial enrollment period has remained pretty consistent throughout the years.  While you only have to deal with this period once in your lifetime, it is a pretty important enrollment period.  Your IEP will last for a total of 7 months. The 7-month clock begins 3 months prior to your 65th birthday (age 64 and 9 months), it then includes your birthday month and ends 3 months after your birthday month for a total of 7 months.

It is important that you enroll in Medicare on time not only so you have insurance coverage in place, but this will also to ensure you do not incur penalties that never go away.  These penalties continue to increase on a monthly and yearly basis and affect both your Part B and Part D premiums.   In addition, if you do not sign up for some of the. other insurance products that are available to you, you could miss out on being enrolled during your guaranteed issue enrollment period.  

Social Security income benefits and Original Medicare are two separate items that are not lumped together. Most of us will age into Medicare upon turning 65, regardless of whether we are taking retirement income benefits yet. Some of us will continue to work past 65 and will have an employer-sponsored plan.  This will mean you will only enroll in Part A of original Medicare and will not enroll in Part B or Part D.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice we can share with you is, you should never expect Medicare to notify you when it’s time to sign up for Medicare.  Set a reminder in your phone 3 months prior to your birthday to begin the process of enrolling.  When that alarm goes off do not delay the process.  Begin right away!

If you decided to collect Social Security income benefits or collecting your Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will be automatically enrolled into Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. You will need to make sure you sign up for Part D if your health plan does not provide you with creditable coverage.  Once you are properly enrolled into Original medicare you can expect to receive your new Medicare card in about 1 to 2 months before turning 65.  If you are concerned, please call your local Social Security office to make sure all is well.

You have the lucky privilege to make sure you know if and when you should enroll in all of the needed Medicare coverage or not.  You will need to know what you should delay enrolling in and what must you act on right away.  

Medicare Parts A, B, and D enrollment is not the same for everyone.  Your best friend who is already enrolled in Medicare will more than likely give you bad advice on when to enroll.   It is always best to talk with a Medicare expert who can understand your specific situation and make recommendations for you.  As your Medicare Insurance Agent, we are here to guide you through the process to ensure you are successful and will make an informed decision.

How to Apply for Medicare in Person

When applying for Medicare in person, you’ll need to do the following: 


  1. Contact your local Social Security office and make an appointment for a face-to-face consultation.
  2. Gather all the necessary documents you need to apply, such as proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country if you’re not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. Additionally, if you plan on enrolling in Part B (medical insurance), you will also need to provide proof of employment or disability status if applicable.
  3. When meeting with the representative at your local Social Security office, be prepared to answer questions about your income level and any past work history that may determine your eligibility and the cost of coverage.
  4. Once you have completed the application process, you will receive a letter in the mail confirming your enrollment in Medicare, along with information about when benefits begin.


Apply by Phone

Some people prefer not to complete an online application and would rather talk with a live person over the phone.  If you are one of those individuals, here is how to reach the Social Security Administration by phone.

Social Security Administration Phone Number: 1-800-772-1213 ( for TTY users, it’s 1-800-325-0778)

Once you have the SSA on the phone, tell the representative that you wish to apply for Medicare. You might be asked to call back at a specific day and time depending on how busy that location is.  On your scheduled phone appointment they will take your application over the phone.

While a phone application might be your preferred method, this method has been known to take longer.  It will be important that you plan ahead as they will require forms to be submitted via US mail.  Some of these forms are for you to complete and sign, employer forms showing if and when your health insurance coverage will end or if it will continue and remain your primary insurance.  The back form mail can cause delays that can be reduced by completing an online application. Applying by phone is a good option if time is on your side. This means you got started at the beginning of your 3-month window.

Applying for Medicare with
our FREE Assistance

We really do want to help you through the entire process from start to finish.  This is not something you have to do alone nor do we want you to feel all alone throughout the process.  There are many things that need to be done in the right time and the correct way.  

If Medicare will be your primary insurance, and you’d like a Medicare Insurance Agent to take you from applying for Medicare all the way through to setting up your Medigap and Part D plan or obtain a Medicare Advantage plan, we are your go-to source for help.  And to top it all off, our services are free.

Find out how it feels to have Integrity Now Insurance Brokers on your side.  Call (562) 735-3553.