When can I enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?
You’ll first be able to enroll In Medicare Advantage:
When you’re about to turn 65. You can enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). You’re IEP—which lasts for 7 months—begins three months before your birth month, includes your month of birth and continues for three months after your birth month.
7 month Initial Enrollment Period
*Signing up for Parts A and B during months 5-7 may result in delayed coverage.
When you’ve been on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for nearly 2 years. You’ll qualify to receive Medicare when you’ve been receiving SSDI payments for 24 full months, however you don’t need to wait until then to enroll! Your 7 month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) will begin 3 months before the 25th month. So for example, if your 25th month is April, your IEP will begin in January and run until the end of July.
ESRD Exception – You are eligible for Medicare no matter how old you are if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Your kidneys are no longer functioning
- You need regular dialysis treatments or have had a kidney transplant
- One of the following applies to you:
- You have worked the required amount of time under Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board, or as a government employee
- You are eligible for or already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits
- You are the spouse or the dependent child of a person who meets either of the requirements listed
- For more information please see Medicare.gov regarding End-Stage Renal Disease
ALS Exception – The 24-month waiting period is waived for Medicare coverage for disabled individuals medically determined to have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The date of Medicare entitlement is based on the date of a diagnosis of ALS, or July 1, 2001, whichever is later. This provision affects both new and current beneficiaries.
You’ll then have a yearly chance to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan, or change plans:
During the Medicare Advantage & Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period, if you’re already enrolled in Part A and Part B of Medicare and want to Enroll in a Part C plan, or you already have a Part C (Medicare Advantage) Plan you’ll be able to choose your coverage option between October 15th and December 7th each year.
In some circumstances you’ll be able to enroll in Medicare Advantage outside of your Initial Enrollment Period and Annual Enrollment Period:
If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period to enroll in Original Medicare you’ll be given a chance to enroll during the Part B General Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1st to March 31st. If you enroll in Part B for the first time during the Part B General Enrollment Period, you will then be given an extra opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan between April 1st and June 30th, as long as you are enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Original Medicare,
If you experience a qualifying life event: You may be granted a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Period qualifying life events include life changes such as moving to a new address, returning to the US after living abroad, moving into or out of a managed care facility, leaving incarceration, and many others.
Note: if you are eligible for premium-free Part A, you can enroll at any time once eligible.