How to Apply for Medicare at Age 65

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Medicare is a government-managed health insurance program available to senior citizens age 65 and older. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 45 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare in 2008. Applying for Medicare at the age of 65 is easy, especially if you are already receiving Social Security benefits. If you are not currently receiving Social Security, you will need to make a quick trip to your local Social Security office to apply for Medicare.

If You Currently Receive Social Security Benefits

Wait for your automatic enrollment. If you are 65 and already receiving Social Security benefits, your application process is easy--you don't need to do anything and you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. Your benefits will take effect starting on the first day of your birthday month.

Keep an eye out for your Medicare enrollment card, which will be sent in the mail. The medicare card is sent to eligible seniors three months before their 65th birthday.

Call the Medicare office if you have not received your Medicare card by your 65th birthday. Medicare customer service is available around the clock at (800) 633-4227.

If You Are Not Currently Receiving Social Security

Visit your local Social Security office in order to apply for Medicare if you are not currently receiving Social Security benefits. A Social Security office locator is included in the Resources section.

Bring identification documents that prove you are a United States citizen and establish your identity, including a driver's license or a U.S. passport. Tell the clerk that you are 65, not currently receiving Social Security and wish to apply for Medicare. You will also need to provide your Social Security number so the clerk can process your application.

Do not wait too long to visit the Social Security office. Your initial enrollment period ends three months after you turn 65, and if you apply for Medicare after your initial enrollment period, you may experience considerable delays in starting your coverage.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are only a few months from turning 65, you don't need to wait until the exact date of your 65th birthday to apply for Medicare. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before you turn 65, so you can apply up to three months before your birthday.

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