How Do I Apply for Medicare?

Senior middle aged happy couple using laptop together at home. Enrolling in Medicare

Applying for Medicare isn’t as complicated as it might seem, but it is the first step you’ll need to take as you transition into the federal Medicare program. Today, we’ll discuss the three ways you can enroll in Medicare and when to start the process.

How to Enroll in Medicare

Beneficiaries have three ways they can complete their Medicare enrollment.

  1. Enroll Online

Possibly the quickest way to complete your enrollment and receive your Medicare ID card is by enrolling online at Users will need to create a my Social Security account, which involves gathering some paperwork and providing enough information to prove your identity. There is a handy checklist you can use to make sure you have all the information before beginning your online enrollment.

  1. Call the Social Security Office

You can apply for Medicare over the phone by either calling your local Social Security office or dialing the toll-free number.

1-800-772-1213 (TTY dial 1-800-325-0778)

The representative you speak with will ask you all the necessary questions and then submit your enrollment application. You may need to fax, email, or mail documents as requested.

  1. Make an In-Person Appointment

If you’d prefer to apply in person, call your local Social Security office to make an appointment. Not all locations are accepting in-person appointments, so you may need to drive to a different location. They’ll give you a list of the documents you need to bring and gather some basic, personal information from you.

At the appointment, they’ll help you complete the application and get all the necessary paperwork submitted.

If you delayed your Medicare enrollment past the age of 65, you will need to provide proof of your current health insurance. You or your employer can fill out CMS Form L564. Keep a copy of this document for future reference.

Female doctor doctor measuring senior man's blood pressure at medical clinic.
If you plan to transition into Medicare as soon as you’re 65 years old, you can begin applying three full months before the month of your 65th birthday

When to Begin Your Medicare Enrollment

Some beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. If you’ve been receiving social security benefits for at least four months before your 65th birthday, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Otherwise, you’ll need to apply manually using one of the methods we listed.

If you plan to transition into Medicare as soon as you’re 65 years old, you can begin applying three full months before the month of your 65th birthday. So, if your birthday is on August 10, you can start the application process on May 1. As long as you apply before the month of your birthday, your coverage will begin on the first day of the month, August 1 in this example.

You have three months after your birthday month to finish your Medicare enrollment. Coverage begins on the first day of the month after you apply. If you miss the enrollment window, you’ll be required to way until the General Enrollment Period to apply. The GEP lasts from January 1 through March 31.

If you are just starting your Medicare journey, you should enlist the help of an independent insurance agent. The Medicare advisors at Carolina Senior Benefits will create a custom enrollment timeline, educate you on how Medicare works, and help you choose the plans that are right for you. Call today for a complimentary consultation.