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Enrolling in Original Medicare is easy

In most cases, if you receive benefits from Social Security at least four months before you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month your turn 65.

If you will not be receiving benefits from Social Security at least four months before you turn 65, you’ll need to sign up for Part A and Part B. You can sign up for Original Medicare by:

Medicare Basics: Eligibility and When To Enroll

When to enroll in Original Medicare

Initial Enrollment Period

When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). The Initial Enrollment Period occurs three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and three months after.

During this seven-month period, it's important to enroll in Part A and Part B (to avoid a late enrollment period External Link), and it's a great time to consider your other coverage options (like purchasing an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan or adding Medicare supplement paired with Part D coverage to Original Medicare). 

If you decide to work past age 65, the timing of your Initial Enrollment Period may be based around your retirement date rather than your 65th birthday. Learn more about this by reviewing our Working Past Age 65 information.

Initial Enrollment Period is 3 months prior to your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday month

General Enrollment Period

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, your next opportunity to enroll in Medicare is the General Enrollment Period. But remember, because you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you may still be subject to late enrollment penalties.

The General Enrollment Period happens every year from Jan. 1 to March 31. If you sign up during this Medicare enrollment period, your coverage will be effective on July 1. This means you may have a gap in coverage.

Initial Enrollment Period is 3 months prior to your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday month