Your initial enrollment period is a time frame when you first qualify for coverage. You can sign up at any point in the 7 months that are given during initial enrollment periods. However, your coverage start date will depend on which month you enroll.
The earliest you can sign up for a Medicare plan is 3 months before your 65th birthday, at the beginning of the month. For instance, if you were born on July 29th, the first day you can sign up is April 1st.
Your Medicare coverage will start on the 1st of your birthday month if you sign up during the first 3 months of your initial enrollment period. So, if your birthday is July 29th, your coverage will start on July 1st, even though you are technically 64 years old at the time.
The 7-month enrollment period includes the month you turn 65 years old. If you wait to enroll during your birthday month, your insurance will start on the 1st of the next month. For example, your Medicare coverage will start August 1st if you enrolled and were born in July.
You can also sign up for Medicare in the 3 months that follow your 65th birthday.
If you sign up the month after your birthday, your coverage will start in 2 months. For example, your coverage will start on October 1st if you sign up in August after your birthday in July.
If you sign up in the last 2 months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage will start in 3 months. For example, if your birthday is in July and you:
- Sign up in September, your start date will be December 1st.
- Sign up in October, your start date will be January 1st.
You may have a premium penalty if you do not sign up during your initial enrollment period.