Helping you at every twist and turn of life – including retirement

As your 65th birthday approaches, so do questions about Medicare. Original Medicare — health insurance from the federal government — takes care of only 80% of medical costs and doesn't include prescriptions. Will you need more benefits? When do you need to enroll? What if you're still working? We have resources to answer questions like this to help make your decision easier.

Wondering when to enroll?

To start, determine if you're going to need different health insurance after you turn 65. At this age, you're typically eligible for Medicare Part A at no charge if you paid into the Medicare program through your taxes for at least 10 years. You're also eligible for Part B as long as you're a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

If you have individual health plan benefits, or if you plan to retire and will no longer receive benefits under an employer group plan, you'll want to start looking at your Medicare options around your 65th birthday. When you're enrolling near age 65, remember you have a seven month window that starts three months before your 65th birthday.

If you have health benefits through an employer plan and you plan to continue working, you may still be able to receive benefits through that plan after you turn 65. Since you pay a premium for Part B, you only want to enroll in that when you need it.

When you're ready to retire, you'll have an eight month Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to sign up for Part A and/or Part B that starts at one of these times (whichever happens first):

  • The month after your employment ends
  • The month after group health plan insurance based on current employment ends

These rules are guidelines for the majority that receive benefits through Medicare, although, there are other enrollment scenarios. Learn more and use our free resources to plan for your retirement at Priority Health retirement starter.

Already have Social Security benefits?

If you're already receiving benefits from Social Security, you'll automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) on the first day of the month you turn 65. You don't need to do anything. Watch for your red-white-and-blue Medicare card to come in the mail.

If you're not already receiving Social Security benefits, you can enroll in Parts A and B by visiting ssa.gov or by calling 1.800.772.1213 (TTY 1.800.325.0778). It may be best to enroll during the three months before your birthday to prevent any delays in Part B coverage, unless you're still working. If you have "creditable coverage" different rules may apply.