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All US citizens are eligible for Medicare either when they turn 65 or when they retire and lose employer or group coverage. Here’s what you need to know about the process.

    What you'll need


Who Qualifies

  • People who are turning age 65
  • People under age 65 with certain disabilities
  • People of any age with end-stage renal disease
  • Other people who meet certain qualifications
  • People over the age of 65 whose employer or group sponsored insurance have ended

See Who Qualifies? for all the details.


When to Sign Up


If you are turning 65, you can sign up for Original Medicare in the 3 months before your birthday month, during your birthday month, or the 3 months after your birthday month. This is referred to as the Initial Enrollment Period.

More about the initial enrollment period.



You may be eligible to apply for Medicare under special circumstances, such as after your employment or group health insurance ends. These circumstances fall under what Medicare refers to as Special Enrollment Periods.

More about the special enrollment periods.


What if I missed the initial sign up period?

If you missed the sign up for Medicare, you can still sign up during a General Enrollment Period (January 1 - March 31). Failure to sign up for Medicare coverage during the Initial Enrollment Period can result in penalties:

Late Enrollment Penalty

Medicare Part A: 10% late enrollment penalty applied to your monthly premium for twice the number of years you did not have Part A despite being eligible.

Medicare Part B: 10% late enrollment penalty applied to your monthly premium for each full 12-month period that you did not have Part B despite being eligible. In most cases, this penalty will be added to your monthly premium for the remainder of your enrollment in Medicare.

More about the general enrollment period.

If I'm covered, is my spouse automatically covered?


Each person must sign up for Medicare individually. There is no spousal coverage with Medicare.


What You'll Need to Apply for Medicare

Application Checklist

  • Date and place of birth
  • Medicaid status
  • Current health Insurance info
  • Spouse info
  • Children/dependent info
  • U.S. military service
  • Employer/work details
  • Bank info

Download the Checklist at


How to Apply for Medicare



Go to the Social Security Administration website


Call Toll Free


1-800-325-0778 (TTY: 711)

7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Monday through Friday


In Person

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