When Can My Parents Sign Up for Medicare?

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Our priorities tend to change as we get older. When we were young, it was our parents putting their needs aside to take care of us. But, the roles reverse once our parents reach a certain age. You need to make sure your aging parents have access to quality health care. Let’s talk about when they’re eligible for Medicare.

It May Vary, But You Need to Know

There are different times when they might become Medicare-eligible. By knowing when they can sign up, you can make sure they have the right coverage at the right time.

Are Your Parents Eligible for Medicare When They Retire? 

Some folks think they’re eligible for Medicare as soon as they retire. This may be true — depending on when they stop working. Most people usually can’t sign up until they’re turning 65. If your mom or dad retires at 65 or later, they’re immediately eligible for Medicare.

Related Post: If I’m Still Working, When Do I Apply for Medicare?

What If They Become Disabled?

Your mom or dad can also become eligible for Medicare under 65 if they become disabled or have a certain health condition. If they qualify through disability, they usually must get Social Security benefits for two years. They may receive a Medicare card at that time. If not, have them (or you) contact the Social Security office. 

If They Have ESRD or ALS

Your parents might be eligible for Medicare sooner if they have select disorders, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Most often, they can enroll three months after dialysis begins or immediately following a kidney transplant. An individual with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) can enroll in Medicare when they start receiving Social Security disability benefits.

When Automatic Enrollment Applies

Your parent may be auto-enrolled in Part A (hospital care) and Part B (medical care) if he or she is:

  • Turning 65 and
  • Already getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits 

They’ll know because they should get a red, white, and blue card in the mail. If, for some reason, your parent doesn’t get the card, they can enroll through the Social Security office. There are different periods when your parent(s) can enroll in Medicare coverage, like Medicare Advantage or separate Part D drug plans.

Related Post: Do I Need Medicare if I’m Covered by my Spouse’s Employer Plan?

When Can My Parent(s) Sign Up?

Period When It Is What Your Parent Can Do
Initial Enrollment Period  7 months — begins three months before the month your parent turns 65 and ends three months after -Sign up for Parts A and B
-Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan
-Sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan

Annual Election/Enrollment Period October 15 to December 7 every year -Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
-Sign up for a Part D drug plan, among other things

General Enrollment Period/Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period January 1 to March 31 every year -Sign up for Parts A and B
-Change from one Advantage plan to a different one
-Drop Medicare Advantage and go back to Original Medicare

Note: Your mom or dad may have a higher premium if they register for Part B during the General Enrollment Period (GEP). 

Special Enrollment Periods

One period not mentioned in the above table is a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), which is another time to sign up. This window happens when your parent no longer gets insurance coverage from their work or has another life change that causes them to lose coverage — such as moving out of the plan’s service area. 

The SEP typically begins when their current coverage ends.

In Summary

  • Most folks become eligible for Medicare at age 65 or if they’ve been disabled for two years.
  • You CAN be retired and ineligible for Medicare.
  • There are annual enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.

Enrollment tips:

  • Have your parents sign up for Part A as soon as they’re eligible — unless, of course, they’re enrolled automatically!
  • Part B has a monthly premium. If your parent has employer coverage, they can wait to enroll to avoid the monthly payment — then sign up once their other coverage stops.

For more information on Medicare enrollment, view our website or call us directly at (662) 844-3300.

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Justin Brock

President & CEO of Bobby Brock Insurance