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Enrollment Periods for Medicare

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

  • The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the time during which a person who is newly eligible for Medicare may make an initial enrollment request to enroll in Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan.
  • For most people, the IEP is the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65.
  • If you’re disabled and have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months, you’ll automatically get Parts A and B beginning on the first day of the 25th month of disability. If you’re not receiving disability benefits, you may enroll during the three-month period prior to the 25th month of disability, the 25th month of disability, and the three-month period after the 25th month.
  • If you don’t enroll in Part B when you’re first eligible, you can enroll between January 1 and March 31 each year, during the General Enrollment Period. However, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
  • If you delay enrolling in Part B because you have group health coverage based on current employment, you’re entitled to an SEP at any time during which you may enroll in Part B. You may also enroll in Part B during an eight-month SEP beginning the month after your employment ends or the group health coverage ends, whichever happens first, and will usually not have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
  • For Part D coverage, if you join after your IEP, the government may charge you a late enrollment penalty. This penalty may be waived if you can show you had prescription drug coverage that was as good as or better than Medicare Part D coverage.

Annual Enrollment Period October 15 - December 7

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the time each year when you can choose which kind of Medicare coverage you want to enroll in effective January 1 of the following year.

For example, if you want to change Medicare Advantage (MA) plans because your needs have changed, or if you decide to change from a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan to Original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you may do so during the AEP. Coverage takes effect on January 1 of the following year.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Certain circumstances may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that allows you to enroll for Medicare outside of open enrollment. These circumstances include:

  • Moving to a new residence
  • You already have Medicaid
  • You are eligible for Extra Help with Medicare prescriptions
  • You have lost access to your employer’s health plan