What Age Do I Apply For Medicare? 

what age do i apply for medicare

What Age Do I Apply For Medicare? 

In this guide, you will learn at what age you can apply for Medicare as well as the signup periods. 

65 Years Old Is When Most Are Eligible For Medicare

Most people become eligible for Medicare on their 65th birthday. If you have a disability that has lasted 24 months, kidney failure, or ALS you could become eligible for Medicare even sooner. 

What Are The Medicare Signup Periods? 

There are 3 Medicare signup periods where you can apply. 

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Your Initial Enrollment Period occurs the year you turn 65 years old. During this time you have a 7-month window to signup for Medicare.  Those 7 months are: 

  • The 3 months before you turn 65
  • The month of your 65th birthday
  • 3 months after your 65th birthday 

It is important that you signup for Medicare during your IEP because there is a late enrollment penalty for missing this 7-month window.  The late enrollment penalty will last for as long as you have Medicare and the cost will be 10% of the cost of your monthly Medicare premium for each 12-month period you could have had Medicare. 

Here is an example of the late enrollment penalty…

If you became eligible for Medicare in 2018 but waited until 2020 to signup you would pay a late enrollment penalty of 20% of your monthly premium. The 20% represents the 2 years that you could have had Medicare. 

General Enrollment Period (GEP) 

The General Enrollment Period occurs every year from January 1st to March 31st. If you missed your IEP, this is the soonest you could sign up for Medicare. 

Special Enrollment Periods (SEP)

Special Enrollment Periods are times outside of the IEP and GEP where you can enroll in Medicare. These periods typically take effect when there has been some type of change or even in your life. Below is a list of instances where a Special Enrollment Period would go into effect. 

  • You move to a new address
  • Lose your current medical coverage
  • You have the chance to obtain another coverage


These should be the key takeaways from this article: 

  • You typically qualify for Medicare at age 65
  • If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period you could receive a late enrollment penalty
  • Your next chance to enroll in Medicare if you miss the IEP will likely be the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31st

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