If you are eligible for Medicare, it is important to know how to apply in order to expedite your application process and ensure that you are better prepared to provide any documentation that may be required of you.
If you are eligible for Medicare based upon your age, it is crucial that you enroll during your initial enrollment period (unless you qualify for a special enrollment period) in order to ensure that you do not receive increased premium amounts for your Medicare health coverage.
You can submit a Medicare application in a variety of ways, such as online, over the phone or in person. No matter how you choose to submit your application, you may be asked to provide certain documentation, such as a copy of your tax return from the previous year or proof of your citizenship status.
When to Apply for Medicare
If you are eligible for Medicare based upon your age, your initial enrollment period will begin three months prior to your 65th birthday, include your birthday month and extend to three months after your birthday month. It is recommended that you apply for Medicare during this initial enrollment period, even if you do not wish to begin receiving retirement benefits, in order to avoid higher premiums for certain parts of Medicare.
For example, Medicare Part B and Part D have increased premiums for each year that you are eligible for Medicare health coverage, but choose not to enroll. This scenario will only apply if you were not eligible for a special enrollment period following your initial enrollment.
You will be eligible for a special enrollment period if you have medical insurance that is provided by a group health plan that is based on either your or your spouse’s current employment. In this case, you will qualify for a special enrollment period during:
- Any month in which you remain covered under the group health plan and the employment that provides this health coverage continues.
- The 8th month period that begins after your employment or group health plan ends, whichever comes first.
If you do not qualify for a special enrollment period or you miss both your initial and special enrollment periods, you will need to apply for Medicare during the annual enrolment period.
If you are eligible for Medicare based upon a disability, you will be eligible to enroll in Medicare health coverage as soon as you become eligible.
How to Complete the Medicare Application
In order to complete a Medicare application, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration with a great deal of personal and work related information. As part of your application, you will be asked to provide:
- Your full legal name, Social Security number, date of birth and place of birth.
- Your citizenship status.
- Whether or not you would also like to apply for retirement benefits.
- The names of all current and former spouses as well as the dates and places of all marriages, divorces or deaths.
- The names of all unmarried children that you have that are either under the age of 18, between the ages of 18 and 19 and currently attending grade school or children that became disabled before the age of 22.
- Your contact information, including your address and telephone number.
In addition to this personal information, you will be asked to provide information about current and previous employers, including:
- The name and address of any employers that you have worked for during the current or previous year.
- The amount of money that you earned through employment both this year and last year.
- The beginning and ending dates of any United States military service that you had prior to the 1968.
- Whether you became unable to work within the past 14 months due to injuries, illness or any other condition.
- Whether your spouse or you have ever worked for the railroad industry.
- Whether or not you have earned Social Security credits within another country.
You will be also asked to provide your bank’s routing transit number and account number if you choose to apply for both Social Security benefits and Medicare.
Learn About Documentation That May be Required for Your Medicare Application
At the end of your application, you will be asked to provide documentation that will support the information that you provided on your application. You may or may not be asked to provide documents, such as:
- Your birth certificate or another form of proof of birth.
- Proof of your United States citizenship or lawful status.
- A copy of your W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns for the last tax year.
If you are not able to obtain these documents, the Social Security Administration may be able to assist you in retrieving copies of the documents. You can contact your local Social Security office for assistance.
Should you choose to mail your requested documentation, it is important that you include your Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper so that your documents can be matched with your application. However, it is crucial that you do not write anything on the original documents that you provide the Social Security Administration.
How to Apply for Medicare Online
Applying for Medicare online is often considered the most convenient and efficient way to submit a Medicare application as there are a variety of benefits associated with online applications. These benefits include:
- Avoiding a trip to your local Social Security office.
- You can make corrections to an application prior to the submission of the application as well as resume unfinished applications at a later date.
- Complete your Medicare application on your own time rather than relying on the hours of operation of the Social Security Administration.
- You will receive a receipt once you submit your Medicare application, which can be printed and kept for your records.
- You can check the status of your application at any time online.
The Social Security Administration has an online application system on its website that you can access from a computer.
How to Apply for Medicare by Phone
You can contact the Social Security Administration by phone during normal business hours in order to to apply for coverage. While applying via hone may take longer than applying online or via mail, it will give you the opportunity to speak with a Social Security Administration representative about any additional questions that you may have regarding Medicare or your application.
How to Apply for Medicare in Person
Alternatively, you can also submit your application in person at your local Social Security office. Should you choose to do so, it is recommended that you bring all required documentation with you to you visit in order to avoid a second appointment. Before visiting the Social Security office, you will need to call your local office and schedule an appointment.
What to Expect After Submitting a Medicare Application
After you have submitted your Medicare application, the Social Security Administration will review your application and contact you should they need any additional information. Once your application has been processed, you will be mailed a decision letter regarding your Medicare requirements, enrollment and start dates.