Time was when Medicare eligibility and one's full retirement age for Social Security were both 65, but that's no longer the case. While Medicare's age of eligibility remains 65, Social Security's full retirement age is now 66 for those just becoming eligible, and this will soon rise to 67. But just because you're not signing up for Social Security yet doesn't mean you should postpone signing up for Medicare. In fact, there are financial penalties for delaying Medicare enrollment.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has just launched a new service that allows people to enroll online for their Medicare benefits even if they are not yet ready to file for Social Security benefits. About a half million Americans enroll in Medicare each year without applying for Social Security benefits.
"This new online Medicare application will make it easier for more people to enroll in Medicare," says Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. "It saves them a trip to the Social Security office, and they can complete the application at home, at their own pace." The SSA says its Medicare application takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
You can use the online Medicare application if you are at least 64 years and 8 months old, do not want to start receiving Social Security benefits in the next four months, and live in the U.S. or one of its territories or commonwealths. The application guides you through a brief set of questions that will help you consider either filing for Social Security and Medicare benefits, or filing only for Medicare. There are links to more information for people who have questions.
To use the new online application, click here. (You can also see a promotional video starring the "Patty Duke Show" cast.)
For answers to questions about whether or not you should enroll in Medicare, visit the Medicare Rights Center's Medicare Interactive, a free, web-based counseling tool.
For an ElderLawAnswers article on coordinating Medicare and employer coverage, click here.
For more on Medicare from ElderLawAnswers, click here.