If you applied for Medicare online, you can check the status of your application through your Medicare or Social Security account. You can also visit the Check Enrollment page on Medicare.gov and find information about your enrollment status by entering your:
- ZIP code
- Medicare number
- last name
- date of birth
- Medicare Part A effective date
You can also check the status of your application by visiting or calling a Social Security office.
You can ask your pharmacy to check the status of your Medicare Part D enrollment by sending a test claim.
You can also call the Member Services department of your Medicare Part D plan.
When and how you enroll for a Medicare plan may affect the start date of your coverage.
Medicare enrollment can be done online, in person, or over the phone through Social Security. Your benefits may not start until 3 months after applying, so it’s important to apply 3 months before your 65th birthday to start receiving coverage that day.
If you already collect Social Security income benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65.
There are various ways to receive Medicare coverage.
You can choose an original Medicare Plan (Part A, Part B, or both) or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) depending on the treatment and benefits you need. You may also enroll in Part D for prescription drug coverage.
You may need these things when applying for Medicare:
- your birthdate and place of birth
- your Medicaid number, if you have one
- current health insurance
Medicare parts A and B help cover hospital and medical insurance costs.
Medicare Advantage plans are handled through private insurance companies and include the same coverage as parts A and B. They also include prescription drug coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover additional benefits like vision, hearing, and dental.
You can enroll in Medicare parts A or B:
- online at SocialSecurity.gov
- by calling Social Security at 800-722-1213
- in person at your local Social Security office
Initial enrollment period
The initial enrollment period for Medicare parts A and B begins 3 months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday, and continues for 3 months after.
Your Medicare coverage will start on the first day of the month that you turn 65 if you apply at the start of the initial enrollment period.
Your start date may be later if you enroll in Medicare in the 3 months after your 65th birthday.
General enrollment period
If you missed your initial enrollment period, you can still enroll during the general enrollment period. The general enrollment period for parts A and B is each year from January 1 to March 31.
You may need to pay a late enrollment penalty if you didn’t sign up for Medicare when you were first eligible.
If you enroll during the general enrollment period, your coverage will begin July 1 of that year.
Special enrollment period
Your health insurance may be covered by a group medical insurance plan through your employer. You can enroll in Medicare at any time if you lose your group insurance.
The special enrollment period begins either the month that your employment ends or when your group health coverage ends. You may not have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you enroll during a specialty enrollment period.
Medicare Advantage plans
Medicare Advantage plans offer the same benefits as original Medicare plans. There are two enrollment periods where you can apply for a Medicare Advantage plan. The initial coverage election period takes place during your initial enrollment period.
During the annual election period, you can add, drop, or change your plan each year from October 15 to December 7. Changes to your plan may include:
- switching plans between original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan
- switching one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- switching between Medicare Advantage plans that do or don’t have prescription drug coverage
Prescription drug coverage
The Medicare Part D plans are optional and don’t always occur automatically. You can enroll for Part D under original Medicare plans. Prescription drug coverage is used rolled into Medicare Advantage plans.
The initial enrollment period for Part D generally occurs at the same time as your initial enrollment period for Medicare parts A and B. The annual enrollment period for Part D if you miss the initial enrollment period is from October 15 to December 7.
Automatic Medicare enrollment
You may be automatically enrolled in Medicare if you’re receiving retirement or disability benefits.
When you turn 65, you’ll automatically receive coverage for Medicare Part A if you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits. You’ll receive coverage for Part B if you choose Medicare Part B when you sign up for retirement benefits.
You’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A and B if you’ve been receiving disability benefits for 24 months. You may be younger than 65 and enroll in Medicare if you have a certain disability or permanent kidney failure.
You’ll receive a red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail after you enroll. Your card will show your name, Medicare number, which Medicare plans you benefit from, and the start dates for each plan.
You’ll get your Medicare card in the mail 2 months before your 65th birthday if you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare. Otherwise, you’ll receive your card within about 3 weeks from the date you apply for Medicare.
You should carry your card with you whenever you’re away from home.
Sign in to your MyMedicare.gov account if you need to print a replacement card.
There are several resources available online through Social Security and Medicare to track the status of your application and enrollment. You can call Social Security or visit your local Social Security office if you have additional questions.
Most applications take a few months to process. When you get your Medicare card in the mail, make sure the information is correct.
Contact Social Security if you want to change your plan. There may be fees included in changing plans or adding additional coverage if you didn’t do it when you were eligible.