To enroll in Medicare, you need to prove your eligibility by submitting documents that verify your age, citizenship, military service (if applicable), and work history. Social Security can help you get copies of any documents you no longer have.

When you apply for Medicare, you might need to provide documents that show you’re eligible for the program. In some cases, Medicare and Social Security might already have some of this information; however, you’ll be asked to provide any information they don’t have.

For example, you might need to submit documents that prove your:

  • age
  • citizenship
  • work and income history
  • military service (if you served)

You’ll need to provide original copies of the supporting documents if you have them. Don’t worry — you can apply for new copies of any documents you no longer have.

You’ll need to prove that you’re eligible for Medicare when you first enroll. In some cases, Medicare might already have this information.

If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance, you won’t need to submit any additional documentation. Social Security and Medicare will already have all the information they need to process your enrollment.

If you don’t receive any kind of Social Security benefits, you’ll need to provide documentation to enroll in Medicare.

You can enroll online, over the phone, or in person at a Social Security office. No matter how you apply, you’ll need to provide certain information.

Generally, this includes:

  • your Social Security number
  • your date and place of birth
  • your citizenship status
  • the name and Social Security number of your current spouse and any former spouses
  • the date and place of any marriages or divorces you’ve had
  • the names and ages of any children you have who are under age 18 (children up to age 19 who are still in high school also need to be mentioned)
  • the names and ages of any children you have who had a disability before age 22
  • whether you’ve ever applied for Social Security benefits in the past, or whether anyone has ever applied on your behalf
  • the name and address of any employer you’ve had in the past 2 years
  • the amount of money you’ve earned in the past 2 years (if you’re applying between September and December, you’ll also need to estimate next year’s earnings)
  • the dates of any military service you had before 1968
  • information about any work you or a spouse has done for the railroad industry
  • information about any Social Security work credits you’ve earned in another country
  • information on any federal pension you receive now or will receive in the future

Additional documentation you may need

Most of this information can be provided simply by filling out the application. Some details, though, will need extra documentation. These documents may include:

  • your original birth certificate or a copy that’s been certified by the issuing agency, such as the state you were born in
  • if you don’t have a record of your birth, other documents to prove your age, such as your immunization records, school records, state census records, insurance records, or medical records
  • if you were born outside the United States, proof of your U.S. citizenship such as your U.S. passport, a Naturalization Certificate, a Certificate of Citizenship, or a U.S. consular report of birth
  • if you’re not a U.S. citizen, proof of legal residency — including your Permanent Resident Card, often called a green card, and your admission-departure record, if you have it
  • if you had military service before 1968, a record of your service, such as your discharge papers
  • your W-2 or self-employment tax information from the past year
  • a record of your earnings, such as your Social Security statement

You might not need all these documents, but it’s a good idea to have as many of them ready as you can. Social Security will let you know what’s needed.

Any documents you send should be originals. Social Security will accept copies of W-2s, tax documents, and medical records, but everything else needs to be an original document.

Social Security will send the documents back to you after they’re reviewed.

You’ll need to provide the documents listed above when you enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Together, parts A and B are known as original Medicare.

You’ll need to enroll in original Medicare before you can enroll in any other Medicare parts. Other parts of Medicare include:

You shouldn’t need to submit any additional documentation when you enroll in these other parts.

You’ll just be asked to provide your Medicare number and your Medicare Part A start date. You can find your Medicare number and Part A start date on your Medicare card.

You can get new copies of any documents you no longer have. It’s a good idea to start gathering documents before you apply for Medicare.

If you need new copies of any documents, you can follow the steps below.

Birth certificates

You can request a copy of your birth certificate from the Vital Records Office of the state you were born in. Each state has different request forms and fees. Follow the instructions on the site and pay any fees required.

Most states allow you to get your birth certificate faster (expedited) for an extra fee. To do this, your birth state might ask that you submit a copy of your ID or a signed request form.

Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship

You can request a copy of your Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can fill out Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship, either online or by mail, to have a copy of these documents sent to you.

To submit this form, you’ll need to pay a $555 fee and send in two identical passport-style photos of yourself. You’ll also have to send in a sworn statement if your document was lost or a police report if it was stolen.

Permanent Resident Card

You can request a replacement Permanent Resident Card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can fill out Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, either online or by mail.

You’ll need to pay a $465 fee. You’ll also have to provide a copy of a government ID, like your driver’s license, along with your application.

Military service records

You can request a copy of your military records, either online or by mail. There’s no fee to access your own records.

Your form will need to go to the military branch you served in. Along with your request, you’ll have to provide:

  • your date of birth
  • your Social Security number
  • the name you used while serving
  • your service dates

Earnings statements

You can get an earnings statement from Social Security by creating a My Social Security account. You’ll be able to view your statement online. You can then print your statement and send it along with your application.

What if I can’t get copies?

You should submit your application even if you don’t have copies of some of these documents. Social Security might be able to help you track them down.

In fact, Social Security can often request copies and verification from your state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. If not, it can help you get the forms you need in order to get the documents yourself.

The way you enroll in Medicare depends on which parts of Medicare you choose. There are different methods for enrolling in original Medicare as opposed to Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medigap, and Part D plans.

Where do I go to enroll in original Medicare?

You can enroll in original Medicare in three ways:

  1. Visit your local Social Security office.
  2. Call Medicare at 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  3. Create a My Social Security account and apply online.

Where do I go to enroll in Medicare Advantage, Medigap, or Part D?

You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medicare Part D, or Medigap plan by using Medicare’s plan finder tool.

This tool will allow you to shop for plans and find ones that meet your needs and budget. You can then enroll in the plan you select.

Important Medicare enrollment deadlines

If you’re planning to enroll in Medicare, you’ll need to know about enrollment deadlines and dates:

  • Initial enrollment period (for those new to Medicare). This is a 7-month window around your 65th birthday when you can sign up for Medicare. It begins 3 months before your birth month, includes the month of your birthday, and extends 3 months after your birth month. During this time, you can enroll in all parts of Medicare without a penalty.
  • Open enrollment period (October 15–December 7). During this time, you can:
    • Join, drop, or switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (or add or drop drug coverage).
    • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare.
    • Join, drop, or switch to another Medicare drug plan if you’re in Original Medicare.
  • Medicare Advantage open enrollment (January 1–March 31). This enrollment period is for those already in a Medicare Advantage program. During this period, you can:
    • Switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan with or without drug coverage.
    • Drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. You’ll also be able to join a separate Medicare drug plan.
  • Special enrollment period. This enrollment period varies and is intended for certain situations that occur in your life, such as moving to a new address, losing or changing your current coverage, getting Medicaid, or getting Extra Help to pay for drug coverage. Learn more about special enrollment periods here.

You’ll need to provide information to prove your eligibility to enroll in Medicare. For example, you’ll need documents that prove your age, citizenship, military service (if you served), work history and income.

When enrolling in Medicare, you’ll need to send in original copies of these documents. You can request new copies if you no longer have them.

Social Security might be able to help you get new copies if you’re having trouble.