Enrolling in Medicare

When to sign up for Medicare

If you are turning 65, your ideal enrollment date starts with your 65th birthday! Determine when you should sign up based on the month of your birthday.

Your Initial Enrollment Period
Enrollment Date 3 Months BEFORE 65TH Birthday Month 1 Month AFTER 2 Months AFTER 3 Months AFTER
Coverage Begins 1st day of 65th Birthday month 1ST day of following month 2 months after enrolling 3 months after enrolling 3 months after enrolling

Where to Sign Up

To apply for Medicare, simply contact the Social Security Administration.



Why Sign Up

Not enrolling in Medicare when you are eligible may result in financial penalties and you may not have health insurance to cover any medical services until your Medicare coverage starts.


If you are working and covered by a group health plan, you may not need to enroll in Medicare until you retire. Or, if you are covered under a spouse’s active employment health insurance, you may not need to enroll until your spouse retires. There will be no penalty for delayed enrollment.

Other Enrollment Periods

Special Enrollment Period


  1. Special Enrollment Period

    If you waited to sign up for Medicare after your 65th birthday because you or your spouse worked for an employer and had health care coverage through your job or union, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

    A SEP lets you enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty at any time while you have group health coverage and for eight months after you lose your group health coverage, or you (or your spouse) stop working, whichever comes first.

  2. General Enrollment Period

    If you miss your initial enrollment period or a special enrollment period, you have the option to enroll in Part B during the general enrollment period January 1 – March 31. After you enroll in Part B during the general enrollment period, then you may enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or a Part D Drug plan from April 30–June 30. Your coverage will begin July 1.

  3. Open Enrollment Period

    The Open Enrollment is October 15—December 7. This is the time when you may switch your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or join a Medicare Advantage plan. Annually you should review your plans as aspects of the plans may and often do change.

  4. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

    Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment starts on January 1 and continues through March 31. During this timeframe, Medicare Advantage enrollers may select a different Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare. Just one plan change is allowed during this window.

Special Free SHIP Service for Montgomery County Residents

During Open Enrollment, Montgomery County SHIP will compare your current Part D plan against the next year’s drug plans. Request your personalized comparison: