It’s Time for Medicare

If you’re turning 65, or you’re already 65 and about to retire and lose your healthcare coverage, it's time for your first Medicare plan.
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See the “It’s Time for Medicare” guide for Illinois, Washington, or Iowa & Nebraska

Enrollment Timeline

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EventEnrollment Dates
Initial Enrollment Period
Parts A, B, C (Medicare Advantage), and Part D (prescription drugs)
March 1September 30
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Enrollment Period
Only if you have Part B
June 1November 30
General Enrollment Period*
Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement
January 1 – March 31
Annual Enrollment Period*
If you already have Medicare, you can make changes at this time
October 15 – December 7

*Occurs yearly.

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When Can I Enroll?

With Medicare, timing is key. If you miss a deadline, you miss out on coverage and could pay a penalty later.

If you already get a Social Security or Railroad check for retirement, CMS will automatically enroll you in Original Medicare. You don’t need to apply.

You can enroll during these times:

  • For Parts A, B, C (Medicare Advantage), and D (prescription drugs), you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday, and three months after.

    If you sign up before the start of your birthday month, your coverage begins the first day of your birthday month. If you sign up anytime after the start of your birthday month, your coverage begins the first day of the next month.

  • For Medicare Supplement (Medigap), you have a 6-month period starting the first day of the month you’re 65 or older and have Part B.
  • The General Enrollment Period, when you sign up for Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement, is January 1 to March 31.
  • The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare Advantage plans is October 15 to December 7. You can only make changes at this time if you already have Medicare.
  • After the AEP ends, you can only enroll after a special event with a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You might qualify for an SEP if you:

    • Lose your coverage through no fault of your own
    • Change jobs
    • Move out of your service area
    • Are institutionalized
    • Have Medicare eligibility issues
    • Become eligible for Extra Help, Medicaid, or a Medicare Savings Program
    • Become eligible or lose eligibility for a Special Needs Plan (SNP)
    • Enroll or disenroll from PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly)
    • Your current plan violates its contract or has enrollment errors
    • Your current plan loses its Medicare contract

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Learn more about how you can enroll in Original Medicare or about how SEPs work through

If you’re not sure how the parts of Medicare work, visit our Understand Medicare section to learn more.


What If I’m Still Covered at Work?

You can keep the health plan you have and enroll in Medicare when you retire.

  • If you keep medical coverage through your job and wait to get Part B, you’ll have eight months from when you retire to add Part B without a penalty. When you’re ready to add Part B coverage, call your local Social Security office.
  • If you keep getting drug coverage through your job, you won’t pay a penalty if you add Part D later.

It’s important to talk to your employer before choosing to stay on your group plan or enroll in Medicare.