When you can apply for Medicare benefits – seven-month initial enrollment period and open enrollment periods.
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the processing time for Medicare applications has had several weeks added on top of the usual duration it takes to process applications. Your local Social Security Administration office is responsible for handling these applications, so where you live is also a factor when it comes to processing time. The expected wait time after submitting your Medicare application is about 2 to 6 weeks. In this article, we review the basic rules for the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and the basic information for open enrollment periods.
Applying At Age 65
There is a 7-month open window to enroll in Medicare surrounding the month in which you turn 65. You have 3 months prior to turning 65 and 3 months after. If you miss the window, you’ll have to wait until an open enrollment period. For example, if you turn 65 in April 2023 (and it doesn’t matter which day in April your birthday falls on), your open enrollment period will begin on the 1st of the month, three months before your birth month – so January 1, 2023. You can also apply during your birth month (April 2023 in this example) and the three months after, so until July 31, 2023.
If you’re able to apply before your birth month, your coverage will start on the 1st of that month (April 1, 2023, when using the above example). If you apply during your birth month, or in the 3 following months, your coverage will be delayed about 90 days. Continuing our above example, if you were to apply in May, Medicare coverage wouldn’t begin until August. And if you were to wait until the last minute (July 2023), then coverage would start around October 1st.
Open Enrollment Period
You can delay your Medicare benefits if you are receiving “creditable” coverage from a “large employer.” However, when you do apply, it has to be during an open enrollment period and the process can take 4 to 8 extra weeks longer. Open enrollment occurs every year from October 15th to December 7th. In this timeframe, current Medicare enrollees can join, switch, or drop Medicare coverage.
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**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.